Having been a fan of Mo Rocca’s episodes on CBS Sunday Morning for quite some time, I jumped at the offer of Net Galley to read and review an advance copy of his new book Mobituaries. A definition needs to set out the premise of the book: Mobituary: (noun) An appreciation for someone or something that did not get the love deserved the first time.
Building on his popular podcast, Mo takes on additional well-known and not so well-known personalities to give information missing from the official obituaries. He adds new dimensions to some names immediately familiar like Billy Carter and Audrey Hepburn. He pairs obituaries of people who died the same day like Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson or Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jim Henson and lets us know which one rated the above-the-fold notice in the newspaper. He notes several surprising advocates for justice including Elizabeth Taylor and Lord Byron.
In addition to telling the stories of people, he includes other dead things – dragons, countries, station wagons, and sports teams. A highlight for football fans, especially if you cheer in the SEC, is his coverage of the murder of Auburn’s live oaks of Toomer’s Corner and his attempt to understand the killer. Old favorites turn up here and there like Satchel Paige, one of my father’s favorite ball players, and humor such as his definition of the Prussian Kaiser as another word for emperor or hard roll.
The dedication at the end was one of my favorite parts of the book with a tongue-in-cheek but appreciative look at his father who passed on a love of reading obituaries. The book reads like Mo speaks on Sunday morning with a lot of fun for his fans who also love quirky obituaries and can be enjoyed in snippets if you can bring yourself to put it down.