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Old 04-19-2005, 03:48 PM
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I just read a very funny book; Your recommendation for others requested


Time to lighten up a bit, I figured.
I just finished The Manhattan Beach Project by Peter Lefcourt. It was hilarious. About filming a new reality TV show called "Warlord", to be shot in Uzbekistan...
Here's a link for more info:
http://www.powells.com/review/2005_03_18.html

So, has anyone else read a very funny book lately? It's Spring, after all. Time to de-gloom.
All recommendations welcome, but I'd prefer new books, as opposed to classic humor or Confederacy of Dunces (one of my fave books, but I'm looking for something new).
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Old 04-19-2005, 03:53 PM
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The Straight Man, by Richard Russo. Read the preface. If you're not giggling uncontrollably by the end of it, you don't need to waste any money on it.
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Old 04-19-2005, 03:54 PM
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For nonfiction -- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson -- his experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail.
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Old 04-19-2005, 05:30 PM
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Another non-fiction - Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker fame. He travels around the world for the BBC to see the world's most endangered animals. Funny and sad.

As for fiction - The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin. He's a wonderful writer.
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Old 04-19-2005, 05:45 PM
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Any Douglas Adams, really, though that doesn't fit into the category of recent.

Bill Bryson wrote Mother Tongue: The English Language some time ago. Hell of a read, and sidesplittingly funny at times. I understand, however, from my linguistics professor that a lot of the stuff he describes is slightly off, but that it was "good enough for recreational study."
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Old 04-19-2005, 05:58 PM
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Terry Pratchett - Warning! Could be mistaken as Literature! Especially his later works.

Robert Rankin - Mondo Wacko.

Spider Robinson - Anything involving Callahan's, Mary's, The Place, or the Best Little Whorehouse In Brooklyn.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:46 PM
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P.J. O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores, as well as some of the essays in Republican Party Reptile and Holidays in Hell. Written back before P.J. lost his pizzazz.

David Sedaris, Holidays on Ice. The theatre review of kids' holiday plays had me in sitches.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:48 PM
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Pure Drivel by Steve Martin. Each 'chapter' is a micro story . He's brilliant.

Dave Barry Slept Here The history of the US by Dave Barry. The more I read it the funnier it is.

Holiday's In Hell PJ ORourke. Travel writing from the political hot spots of the world at the time ( I think about 1988ish), brilliant observations and sarcasm. What more does one need?
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:56 PM
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One of the strangest, funniest, and most memorable books I've ever read is The Bear Went Over the Mountain, by William Kotzwinkle. My sister gave me this book for Christmas a few years ago, and I have enjoyed rereading it several times since.

A plot summary does not capture the immense, quirky charm of this book. The story is about a bear (a real, in-the-woods type bear) who publishes a book, and has interesting encounters with various kinds of human beings while on his way to fame and fortune.

This is not a kiddie book, and although it is filled with laughs, it is also filled with inducements to deeper thought. Imagine Being There starring Smokey Bear instead of Peter Sellers.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:59 PM
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I'll have to second silenus on his first two suggestions (haben't read the third) plus add:

Christopher Brookmyre - comic thrillers/crime fiction. Try The Sacred Art of Stealing, and if you're into FPS games you have to read A Big Boy did it and Ran Away.

Ben Elton - screenwriter for The Young Ones, Blackadder and Thin Blue Line. Amazing satirist, I recommend This Other Eden and Dead Famous.

Alexander McCall Smith - The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, although I find his Portuguese Irregular Verbs series funnier. Maybe because I'm into linguistics plus they are reminiscent of classical comic short stories I used to read when I was younger.
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Old 04-19-2005, 07:09 PM
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I've recommended this book several times: Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley. It's about a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Funny funny book.
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Old 04-19-2005, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster
For nonfiction -- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson -- his experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I have to second this one. It's laugh-out-loud funny.
I took it with me to jury duty a couple of years ago and kept giggling out loud in the waiting room. I'm sure everyone thought I was nuts.
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Old 04-19-2005, 08:15 PM
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I agree with the Bill Bryson recommendation and I'd add The Lost Continent as another one I find amusing to read.

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse is one that amused me as well. It's by Robert Rankin.
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:08 PM
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Fiction:
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Nonfiction:
The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Interior Desecrations, both by James Lileks
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:18 PM
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Kate Christensen's The Epicure's Lament is quite funny is a snobby, cynical way. Imagine Frasier Crane only much more bitter and pretentious.
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:22 PM
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Some offbeat ones:

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome is classic. It's old, yes, but it's completely fresh and if you haven't read it you have cheated yourself immensely.

Life Among the Savages is Shirley Jackson's memoir of raising her kids in Vermont. It's absolutely hilarious, especially if you thought she was some sort of twisted stunted frustrated genius person after reading The Haunting of Hill House. You may have read the short piece "Charles", which is included.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby if you like your humor dry and British - a memoir of the author's trip into Afghanistan in that crazy model of British dilletantism (written in the 50's, I think) - "Oh, let's go to some remote corner of Afghanistan. But we have to be mountain climbers." "Oh, okay. I guess we'll figure out the mountain climbing part on the fly, then." Charming, fascinating, and I thought it was hilarious.
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:38 PM
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If you don't mind fishing books, anything by Patrick McManus or John Gierach is hilarious. Gierach isn't up front comedy, but he has a wry wit that pops up quite a bit. McManus is just ludicrously funny. So let's see:

Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders John Gierach

The Grasshopper Trap Patrick F. McManus

I also read America the book: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction recently, hilarious. (my sig. is a quote from that book)
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Old 04-19-2005, 10:15 PM
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I'm a big fan of Mario Vargas Llosa, so I'll recommend two of his:

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - The main storyline is a young (18 years old) man falls in love with his aunt (by marriage), but there's a hilarious subplot involving a radio soap opera writer named Pedro Camacho. I definitely giggled out loud reading this one.

Captain Pantoja and the Special Service - Very funny, but based on a true event. Captain Pantoja here is in the Peruvian army, and his job is to create a "Special Service" of prostitutes to satiate the urgings of the soldiers in the Amazon. The book is very experimental in style, so if it's confusing at first, just keep with it. Some of the most hilarious parts are when the situations and updates are written in military reports. They discuss the most absurd things in the most official and beaurocratic manner that it becomes uproariously funny.
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Old 04-20-2005, 12:42 AM
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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett

And the not-so-recent Fried Green Tomatos at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. The movie was mostly serious, but as I remember the book was mostly laughs.

Of course, I have to support the Douglas Adams suggestions... if you can get ahold of a copy in the States, The Deeper Meaning of Liff is quite funny and makes for good bathroom reading.
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Old 04-20-2005, 02:09 AM
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Also not exactly hot off the press, but I can't pass up an opportunity to recommend Paul Quarrington's Civilization - (And Its Part In My Downfall).

Paul Quarrington has remarkable way of writing novels that are complex easy reading -- farce that is emotionally true and often profound. You'll laugh until you've got skidmarks, and feel ennobled by the experience, despite the laundry issues.

Civilization is my favourite, although I strongly endorse everything he's ever written. He's a genius.

Civilization is a narrative about a couple of young men who make their way west where, (after a series of trials) they become involved in the nascent movie industry. It's extremely well-researched, and many of the characters and events are recognizable as blown-up versions of real persons, either enduringly famous or relatively obscure. (I suspect that Eve would love this book.) You don't need to get any of the references to enjoy it, though. Oh, and there's a naked girl in it -- with beautiful bubs and milk-white skin. Surely that counts for something.

Also recommended: The Life Of Hope, in which a biblious writer named Paul takes time out in a peculiar town founded by 19th century religious extremists and goes fishing -- for a possibly (but probably not) hallucinatory, talking mystical fish. Keep your trousers fastened!

You also mustn't miss Home Game, in which a lachrymose ex-baseball star and ex-newsreel journalist acts as a ringer (despite his crippled legs for a stranded troupe of carnival people who've settled (literally) in town, arousing the ire of an unusual (and extremely stern and skilled) religious sect that regards baseball as a perfect divine metaphor for life, who've talked them into a game to determine which group will be banished from the town forever. If you've seen Todd Browning's Freaks, most of the carny people will be familiar. They're based on folks that are best-remembered for their appearances in that film -- the (original, more attractive) Hilton sisters, Johnny Eck, Olga the bearded lady, etc. It's hilarious, and much much more. And oh, the humanity.

Here endeth my plugging for Paul Quarrington.

All parties are also instructed to read everything published by Will Self, beginning with The Quantity Theory of Insanity. (Also not new, strictly speaking.)

I also will type "also" once more:

Also.
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Old 04-20-2005, 02:19 AM
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Jose Saramago - Blindness
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Old 04-20-2005, 02:24 AM
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Holiday's In Hell[/b] PJ ORourke. Travel writing from the political hot spots of the world at the time ( I think about 1988ish), brilliant observations and sarcasm. What more does one need?
That's a f'kin brilliant read. Also try Age and Guile beats Youth, Inexperience and a Bad Haircut where P.J. reflects back (and cringes at) his early journalistic career.
If you're into black comedy, try Martin Amis' The Information - the protagonist is a bit of a sad case, but it's side-splittingly funny.
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Old 04-20-2005, 02:50 AM
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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett


There's a reason this has been mentioned twice before - it is very different and very, very funny. Best of all, it has throw-away oneliners mixed in with some very subtle humour - something for everyone!

(yes, I did open the thread just to mention it, and found that not one but two people had got there before me!)
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Old 04-20-2005, 03:13 AM
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Yet another recommendation for Good Omens.

And I always recommend Roy Blount, Jr., as he's my favorite writer. Now, Where Were We (Getting Back to Basic Truths We Have Lost Sight of Through No Fault of My Own) is my favorite of his books. Camels are Easy, Comedy's Hard is also good. They're collections of essays.

I'm not a huge fan of David Sedaris, but I will say that "You Can't Kill the Rooster" from Me Talk Pretty One Day is probably the single best essay ever written.
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Old 04-20-2005, 03:27 AM
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Okay, I'll get on that bandwagon, too. Good Omens is a great read.

(Traffic problems always make me think of the Satanic M25 sigil, cranking out evil energy and bad vibes as hapless commuters trundle along it. Brilliant.)
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Old 04-20-2005, 08:53 AM
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A quick Thank You to all who have replied so far.

I have read some of those mentioned, but certainly not all. I have the newest by Redmond O'hanlon, Trawler , but haven't started it yet. I'm putting lots in this thread in my summer "to read" list.
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:10 AM
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Hypocrite in a pouffy white dress : tales of growing up groovy and clueless
Gilman, Susan Jane.

I laughed out loud a couple of times, which is really out of character for me. Besides being funny, she really has had some interesting experiences.
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:18 AM
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I'd have to recommend Lamb by Christopher Moore. It's basically the story of Christ, as told by his best friend, Biff. It gives a really offbeat and somewhat irreverent perspective to a lot of traditional tales from the Bible, good stuff for the open minded who enjoy darker humor.
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:32 AM
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My favorite funny books, which still make me laugh out loud:


Bored on the Rings by Doug Kenney and Henry Beard of the Barvard Lampoon

Just about any Dave Barry Book (except his novels), especially Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs

James Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food and Interior Desecrations (which I just picked up this weekend)

Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese (but not his other books)

Tom Weller's Science Made Stupid and Cvltvre Made Stupid (both regrettably out of print)

A. Whitney Brown's The Big Picture -- getting dated, but still funny


Doon by The National Lampoon -- tries too hard, but has its moments. Out-of-print send-up of Frank Herbert's Dune.
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:40 AM
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I second David Sedaris and Christopher Moore........

I'm puzzled by Nighttime's suggestion of Blindness - funny?
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theodore Striker
I'd have to recommend Lamb by Christopher Moore. It's basically the story of Christ, as told by his best friend, Biff. It gives a really offbeat and somewhat irreverent perspective to a lot of traditional tales from the Bible, good stuff for the open minded who enjoy darker humor.
I came here to suggest that book but since you beat me to it, I will add that anything by Christopher Moore will make you laugh. Lamb is still my favorite by him but I also enjoyed The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Bloodsucking Fiends.

Richard Brautigan is another author you might enjoy. The title story in Revenge of the Lawn made me laugh 'til I cried.
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:05 AM
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Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome is classic. It's old, yes, but it's completely fresh and if you haven't read it you have cheated yourself immensely.
And after you're done reading Three Men in a Boat, read Connie Willis' book To Say Nothing of the Dog, in which a historian goes back in time to the Victorian age to recover a hideous looking piece of sculpture.

Also, check out some of Donald Harrington's Stay More novels, especially "The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks", "The Cockroaches of Stay More" and "Thirteen Albatrosses".
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:09 AM
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I came here to suggest that book but since you beat me to it, I will add that anything by Christopher Moore will make you laugh. Lamb is still my favorite by him but I also enjoyed The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Bloodsucking Fiends.
I'll add to the Christopher Moore contingent. I'm just upset that I was too busy (a) working and (b) posting about The Shield and Deadwood to be the first.
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:11 AM
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The Last Coin by James P. Blaylock
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:13 AM
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I'm not a huge fan of David Sedaris, but I will say that "You Can't Kill the Rooster" from Me Talk Pretty One Day is probably the single best essay ever written.
There's a scene in Dress your Family In Courduroy and Denim with the Rooster and some "God! Damn! Fucking! Chicken wings!" that made me laugh so hard I started to black out.

I second Steve Martin, although I think Cruel Shoes is his best prose. ("Soon we will be able to ask this strange tribe of boneless women the important scientific questions such as "What time is it?" and "How come no bones?") OOP, I think, but pretty ubiquitous at used book stores.

I'm just finishing Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One," which is very funny, although not exactly recent (1948). Speaking of hilarious British authors, this thread is much too long to have not mentioned P.G. Wodehouse, author of the side-splitting Jeeves & Wooster stories.

--Cliffy
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:26 AM
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Speaking of "hot off the presses," have you read much Mark Twain? He can be hilariously funny, or viciously depressing, or both.

Daniel
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Old 04-20-2005, 11:07 AM
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Another non-fiction - Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker fame. He travels around the world for the BBC to see the world's most endangered animals. Funny and sad.

As for fiction - The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin. He's a wonderful writer.
Second the Last Chance to See. A great book; I loved the non-preachy sense of awe that he displayed in the book. He didn't come across as a newly-converted conservation fanatic trying to get the rest of us to see how evil we all are. His sense of wonder came across beautifully, and his trademark humor was ever-present without seeming obligatory.

And I especially liked the bit where he started referring to the Germans as Latvians (because they were so stereotypically German that no one would believe that they were real if he actually referred to them as Germans).

Absolutely love this book.
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Old 04-20-2005, 11:32 AM
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Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - The main storyline is a young (18 years old) man falls in love with his aunt (by marriage), but there's a hilarious subplot involving a radio soap opera writer named Pedro Camacho. I definitely giggled out loud reading this one.
Hopefully much better than the movie based on it, Tune In Tomorrow, starring Keanu Reeves, Barbara Hershey, and Peter Falk. Falk is fantastic, but not worth watching the whole movie for.

I'm a big fan of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, starting with The Eyre Affair. Also, just about anything by Peter David, especially Sir Apropos of Nothing and its sequel, The Woad to Wuin, both of which poke a great deal of fun at the standard fantasy genre. He also has two books called Knight Life and One Knight Only, about King Arthur emerging from his enchanted cave and running for mayor of New York City. Very, very funny. And Morgan Le Fay is exiled to the town I live in, which makes it much funnier to me.
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Old 04-20-2005, 11:36 AM
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I'm puzzled by Nighttime's suggestion of Blindness - funny?
I think that was joke. Well, I should hope so.

My own recommendation is A White Merc with Fins by James Hawes.
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Old 04-20-2005, 11:46 AM
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Add to that the works of Tim Dorsey. His crime novels, set in Florida, are laugh-out-loud funny! Better than Haissen, IMHO.
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Old 04-20-2005, 05:55 PM
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Speaking of "hot off the presses," have you read much Mark Twain? He can be hilariously funny, or viciously depressing, or both.
Absolutely. I read [i]Roughing It[/b] for the first time last year, and i was laughing out loud in places.
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Old 04-20-2005, 07:21 PM
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Recent: CEO of the Sofa by P.J. O'Rourke

Old: John Mortimer's Rumpole stories. And Robert Heinlein's novels can be pretty funny.

And I second the Bill Bryson suggestions. I was reading Lost Continent on a plane once, unsuccessfully trying to keep my mirth to myself, and a stranger tapped me on the shoulder wanting to know what was so funny.
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Old 04-20-2005, 07:35 PM
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Ben Elton - screenwriter for The Young Ones, Blackadder and Thin Blue Line. Amazing satirist, I recommend This Other Eden and Dead Famous.
I'd add Inconceivable, by him also.
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Old 04-20-2005, 07:46 PM
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Pest Control by Bill Fitzhugh.
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Old 04-20-2005, 07:49 PM
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I've recommended this book several times: Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley. It's about a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Funny funny book.

That was going to be my recommendation as well.

But I am tempted to recommend some old classics: anything by P.G. Wodehouse.
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Old 04-20-2005, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness
Speaking of "hot off the presses," have you read much Mark Twain? He can be hilariously funny, or viciously depressing, or both.
Twain's a great one; people thinkg, "Oh, that's old classic stuff," and don't realize how actually funny and readable he is. Ditto for Jonathon Swift. I've been reading P.G. Wodehouse for quite a while, and he's clearly the precursor to the screwball comedy (although the novels do tend to go on a bit long; start with the short stories, which are just the proper length for a good cup of tea), and my newly-renewed passion is for Joseph Heller, whose Catch-22 may be the best satirical novel ever written. Douglas Adams is great, especially if you know enough about evolutionary theory and quantum mechanics to really pick up on some of the jokes he slides in; for an English major(?) he was surprisingly technically literate.

I found Chaucer quite a lark, too, but he's not light reading. As for more modern reading I'm a bit at a loss; Bryson only amuses me for about three chapters, then his self-deprecating tone grates, and David Sedaris, who everybody seems to be so crazy about, just bores me insensate after ten pages or so. I get some chuckles out of Stevenson's Cryptonomicon but not enough to recommend slogging through it.

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Old 04-20-2005, 08:49 PM
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Speaking of Christopher Buckley, I thought Little Green Men was funnier than Thank You for Smoking.
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:05 PM
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Wodehouse I would like to find ( via the library) but it and the system don't seem to have any.And the local bookstores don't even have him, unless I am looking in the wrong section ( Humor or Literature.)

Nuts.

There are a couple of well written scenes in: A girl named Zippy. Especially the one in dealing with a neighbor who was complaining about their dogs barking, who really weren't a problem and how her dad solved the problem. Very funny.


I think Larry Mudd is a Hidden Persuader for Quarrington.


I have just book marked this list so I can add most of these titles to my amazon wish list, which grows immensely everytime lists like this come up. I am so far behind....like 4 years worth of " Recommend me a good X book".

You buttheads.






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Old 04-20-2005, 10:33 PM
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I must give props to Athena for directing me to this gem of a book:

Clara: Her Early years. the story of a pug that ruled my life. There were many scenes in the first couple of chapters that I was laughing so hard that it turned to tears. ( Esp how Clara walked her 'sister' dog out the door to get rid of her...dragging her by the lease.)

If you are a dog person , this is a good book. If you aren't a dog person, you might not get the 'my dog runs my life' mentality.
  #50  
Old 04-20-2005, 10:46 PM
mhendo is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 25,339
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest
Wodehouse I would like to find ( via the library) but it and the system don't seem to have any.And the local bookstores don't even have him, unless I am looking in the wrong section ( Humor or Literature.)

Nuts.
You can get a whole bunch of Wodehouse completely free at Project Gutenberg. I'm no expert on him, but i'm sure that someone else can recommend some good titles from 35 or so available online.
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