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Thorn Birds Author Dubbed 'Overweight' in Obit

Backlash is swift over Colleen McCullough's obituary
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2015 10:57 AM CST

(Newser) – Colleen McCullough wrote "the highest-selling novel in Australia's history," Time reports. She also happened to be a neurophysiologist. But even so, when the Australian reported on the Thorn Birds author's death this week, it led with this:

  • "Colleen McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth."

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Reaction was swift:

  • "It may be possible for this obituary in The Australian to have a more offensive opening & tone. I can't imagine how," tweeted fellow author Neil Gaiman.
  • In the Sydney Morning Herald, Joel Meares offers up 11 alternative obituaries for male authors. For example: "Smirky, and certainly too fond of tanning, Ian Fleming nevertheless could write about spies and stuff."
  • And on Twitter, users used the hashtag #MyOzObituary to tweet their own obituaries Australian-style, Vocativ reports. Sample: "Heavy of head and lean of frame, he nevertheless remained vertical for much of his life."
  • And another, from author Jennifer Weiner: "Thin of hair and thick of thigh. Strident. Per NYT, lacked ability to sleep way to top. Puzzlingly, also #1 NYT bestseller."
(Read more obituary stories.)

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