Just thought I would solicit recommendations for books in which humor plays a key role in the text. The best way for me to explain is to give an example, so I’ll start with one of my favorite books, Catch-22. When I first read this one, I snickered by page 10, and immediately called the friend who’d recommended it and thanked them. The rest of the book didn’t dissappoint. It is the only book that has ever made me laugh out loud, especially after repeated readings. From the cyclical language and inane situations to the over the top characters, I find nearly everything about the book hilarious. But, what really strikes me is that, although there are places that the all the hyperbole seems a bit much, the book had too be funny. The dark, sometimes despairing humor contributed to the statement Heller was trying to make, that being a narration on the absurdity of war and bureaucracy. I know when people think of that book they remember the most absurd scenes, the set pieces if you will, but I find as much, or possibly more, humor in the descriptions of the Yossarrian’s claustrophobic reactions to his station in the bomber, or in the ascription of sentience and inherent wickedness to the flak which he reviles, or in his insistence that he is the only sane person left, seemingly in the whole of the world-in other words, the parts of the book which seem to flow with, and directly from, the action.
After that book, in my opinion, the falloff to the next is huge. I’ve attempted to read most of Heller’s other novels-but found them all lacking. Without the urgency of war as a backdrop, it seems the jokes are forced and the humor contrived. I’ve read Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces, which I would recommend as a distant second to Catch-22, as well as various books by Kurt Vonnegutt and Hunter S. Thompson, each of whom can be funny, but whose writings are largely too fragmentary to agree with my sense of the concrete. After that, my list pretty much dries up.
So here is the rub-My sense of humor is irreverent, anthracitic and tinged with psychosis; can you recommend a book, with a genuine plot, that will make me laugh, or at least smile?