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Big Al

Looking for some good humorous novels

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A cursory browse through Barnes & Noble reveals only about three kinds of books these days:

1. "History" books about wars and/or lawyers and/or politicians

2. Self-help books about everything, basically repeating the same thing as last year's self-help books (from people who've been in wars and/or lawyers and/or politicians)

3. Romance novels about wars and/or lawyers and/or politicians

Is there no such thing as a genuinely FUNNY novel anymore? Is the art of humor in fiction a dead one? Is Christopher Buckley the only one putting out thoughtful yet hilarious writings anymore?

Could any of you better-read folks give me any help in this department? I need a good laugh, and I don't mean a political one. :)

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Al,

I saw your thread and instantly thought "Christopher Buckley" but in reading the actual post I see that you already know about him. I have enjoyed his work ever since "The White House Mess" and while "Thank You For Smoking" was extremely funny I thought in the end he lost his nerve a bit. Have you seen his collection of humor pieces, Wry Martinis? I found that one in an amusing location: the "Drinks" subsection of the Cook Book section of a Barnes and Noble!

Another compilation book that has its moments is Coyote V. Acme

by Ian Frazier. The title essay imagines the opening statement of an attorney representing Wile E. Coyote in a product liability suit against the Acme Company.

I know you're asking for novels but thinking about Christopher Buckley brought me to these two recommendations.

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Have you read any John Barth? The Sot-Weed Factor is one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's basically a twisted love story embedded within a satire of American history, but it is not over-the-top in it's political implications. In fact, it can be just a really funny, somewhat peverse story if that's all you want it to be.

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Jonathan Coe - 'The Rotters Club' and 'What a Carve Up.' The former a hilarious account of a young lad growing up in 70s Britain (if you know the rock music of the time you will have found your ideal novel), the latter set against the rise of Thatcherism in the 80s.

Both absolutely hilarious.

Might be a bit too Brit for US tastes. Though I know from a discussion on the old Blue Note Board that these books had a following in the colonies!

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Jerome K. Jerome - THREE MEN IN A BOAT[to say nothing of a dog].

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Al,

I saw your thread and instantly thought "Christopher Buckley" but in reading the actual post I see that you already know about him. I have enjoyed his work ever since "The White House Mess" and while "Thank You For Smoking" was extremely funny I thought in the end he lost his nerve a bit. Have you seen his collection of humor pieces, Wry Martinis? I found that one in an amusing location: the "Drinks" subsection of the Cook Book section of a Barnes and Noble!

Another compilation book that has its moments is Coyote V. Acme

by Ian Frazier. The title essay imagines the opening statement of an attorney representing Wile E. Coyote in a product liability suit against the Acme Company.

I know you're asking for novels but thinking about Christopher Buckley brought me to these two recommendations.

Just out of curiousity, is the Coyote V. Acme essay the bit that appeared in National Lampoon so many years ago that I'm going to pretend someone told me about it so I don't seem so old...never mind; I don't know anything about it... :wacko:

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After all these years, this one remains humorous, IMO:

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Yes, John Barth! GILES GOAT-BOY is wickedly funny as well. Jim Dodge is another humorous author you might check (a different type of humor).

Giles Goat Boy is another great one, but for me it took a little longer to get going. Well worth a read, though.

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If you're somewhat into sports there's Steve Rushin's Road Trip, and as the title suggests, the SI writer takes a trip around the U.S. in search of grassroots/warmhearted/funny stories that permeate the small towns and big cities of sports-crazed America. Rushin's quite the writer with a knack of being able to convey hillarious passages about the most inconsequential things (like road signs, for instance). I've read this one twice, once on a road trip of my own.

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Some favorites of mine for their humor:

Philip K. Dick

Kingsley Amis

John Irving

and "The Confessions of Zeno"

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'Good Omens' by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Anything by Terry Pratchett.

Also Douglas Adams' 'Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy' books.

All of these are the Monty Python school of dry humor.

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Some favorites of mine for their humor:

Philip K. Dick

Kingsley Amis

John Irving

and "The Confessions of Zeno"

Lon,

I'd read "The Confessions of Zeno" a few years back. (At the time, I was a smoker and could really appreciate the lead character's struggle. Readers of this one will get that reference.)

Have you ever read "Further Confessions of Zeno"? This one (published after the death of Svevo) was very difficult to find but I just noticed that my local library seems to have a copy.

Off to the library I go...

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Carl Hiaasen's novels.

John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.

Bukowski's novels, short stories, and poems.

Flann O'Brien's works.

And there's always Mark Twain.

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Thanks, gang. This will be a handy list for the next trip to the library! Keep the suggestions coming!

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'Good Omens' by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  Anything by Terry Pratchett.

Also Douglas Adams' 'Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy' books.

All of these are the Monty Python school of dry humor.

I agree; Good Omens was fun. I'll be damned if I can remember the author, but Little America was good. Of course, I'm easily amused. I think most of Tom Robbin's stuff is funny.

This isn't someone most people would think of as humorous, but Robert A. Heinlein's Job cracked me up.

Edited by Jazzmoose

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Unintentionally doubled the post.

Edited by jazzbo

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No, I've never read "Further Confessions." Hmmm. . . .

Lots of humor in what I read actually now that I think of it. In the last few years Kerouac has really made me howl. And of course, there's Thurber. And Vonnegut (and Kilgore Trout!) And yes, Heinlein can be hilarious. . . though often unintentionally. (Number of the Beast anyone?)

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I agree, Jazzbo; that's what makes Job stand out-it's intentional. :D

In all honesty, Vonnegut (possibly my favorite writer) never strikes me as humorous. I find his work to be bittersweet at best. Most of his stuff (and definitely what I consider his best) seems quite sad to me.

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'The Thought Gang' by Tibor Fischer is a hilarious black comedy, just take a look at the reviews at Amazon. Everyone I know who has read this loved it. Laugh and learn philosophy at the same time.

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Oops, your post said novels. Oh well, my recommendation is still within the humorous realm. B)

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pryan, no problem! Any suggestion is worth looking into.

I gotta check out Little Me. That looks hilarious.

Hey Dan, did you read No Way to Treat a First Lady? That was just as good as, if not better than, Thank You for Smoking. Even has one of Smoking's main characters in it!

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Al, I saw the reviews but have not picked up First Lady yet.

And Mark, I have no idea if Coyote V. Acme appeared in National Lampoon originally, though I can check when I get home.

I'll second the nominations of the Hitchhiker books, though I would probably stick with the first three and let the last two slide.

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P.G. Wodehouse's novels and stories never get old. If you haven't read any of his stuff yet, you're in for a real treat. It doesn't matter which work you choose as he is remarkably consistent. His books are pure tomfoolery written in grand language.

Evelyn Waugh is wickedly satirical.

The "Flashman" novels are funny too but might offend uptight people. The author is George Macdonald Fraser (sp?) and he sticks a fictitious rogue into 19th century history. The history even comes with footnotes and some bibliographical references. The books get repetitious however. You can read them just for the history.

To generalize: British writers tend to be humorous. Even 19th century authors are funny. I like Thackery, for example.

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The "Flashman" novels are funny too but might offend uptight people. The author is George Macdonald Fraser (sp?) and he sticks a fictitious rogue into 19th century history. The history even comes with footnotes and some bibliographical references. The books get repetitious however. You can read them just for the history.

Whoa! How could I forget these? Great stuff!!

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Douglas Adams: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul-also a Dirk Gently book. Very funny. The first one seems like two different stories. It's interesting how he tied them together.

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