Thursday, April 23, 2009

Laugh Out Loud Humor In Fiction

Humor is tough to pull off in a novel. At least to me, it seems to be tougher to elicit a reaction from a reader than from a live audience when it comes to comedy. Very rarely have authors made me break into laughter; usually, humor in a novel produces the occasional smile.

On rare occasions, I will catch myself actually laughing out loud at a book. Usually, it takes a witty, somewhat ironic first person narrator to draw out this kind of response from me. Perhaps that says more about my own sense of humor than anything else.

Here are a few examples of books that have made me laugh out loud...

Nelson DeMille is excellent with humor, especially in the book Plum Island.

Paul Neilan wrote Apathy and Other Small Victories, which is sort of like Office Space as told by a raging nihilist. Paul's blog, though it hasn't been updated in awhile, gives you a feel for his humor, which definitely is not for everyone.

I only very recently came across Colin Bateman, who unfortunately is not that well-known in the US, but who is huge in the UK. I'm currently reading his debut novel, Divorcing Jack, and it's absolutely hysterical. Reading in bed the other night, my laughter woke my wife when I came across this little gem of a passage:

"We made love on the floor. It was nice. We had a bit of an argument about the lack of a condom. I volunteered to use my sock. She thought that idea was a) disgusting; b) stupid. Socks weren't watertight, or whatever. She said, "You wear a sock, not only will I have a baby, it'll come out wearing a bloody jumper." We compromised on my withdrawal.

I didn't. We British don't withdraw from Ireland."


adrian mckinty said...

Bateman is great and DJ is one of the best. There's a film too of DJ but I havent seen it. Still the book is terrific. Can you believe he has trouble finding a publisher in the US? Its ridiculous. Still he's not hurting is Mr B. That Murphy's Law he created and wrote is on BBC America all the time.

Brian O'Rourke said...


CB is great. I don't get why US publishers wouldn't be interested. Were the Troubles taboo in the States when he started releasing books? It's probably funny me asking you this, but at the time, I was in high school and not really up to snuff on current events in Ireland/UK.

Speaking of the publishing industry, are you excited for Monday? I think Fifty Grand is going to do real well, man.

v word - raingod. That has to be a good omen, as in rainmaker.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Apathy and Other Small Victories quotesNeilan has got some great zingers in his book, too. I couldn't find my favorite online, but this is a good one:

"She seemed like a nice person. But nice just isn’t enough anymore. Everybody’s nice, or they at least try to be, or pretend to be. You have to go to France or New York City to find a real asshole these days, and they’re only doing it because people expect them to, like those monkeys at the zoo who throw their shit at visitors through the bars. It’s more reputation than a real desire to smear feces all over somebody. And that’s just sad."