Posted by: turtlebella | 17 April 2006

Laugh out loud

The 2ndin the (not-at-all regular) Literary Luna-day Series

Welcome to Literary Lunaday all the way from France! I am on day one of my two week trip to France and Portugal. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired- always like this when I first get over here. And at the moment I am staying in a unprepossessing chain motel cos I'm only in this town for one night. And it's cheap. So – to cheer myself up, I offer the following,

If you know me, you know I like to laugh. And you know, I thought I would blog about “a few of my favorite things”, id est, books that have made me laugh out loud recently. (Like how I worked that Latin in there? I love using “i.e.” – fortunately, I get to use it frequently in my professional writing, but actually using the Latin: unprecedented for me. Too nerdy? Pretentious? I hope not!) Now, I laugh out loud more than most people. But I see that as not a character flaw (is there an opposite of “character flaw?” Someone help me out!). I think more people should laugh out loud. Especially when they are reading. Not to mention that it would make me seem less like a freak when I’m reading away in public, entirely oblivious to everyone and anything else, and I start shaking, moving up to a giggle, until I am uncontrollably guffawing.

Hmmm, this is turning into advice day. Okay advice on Literary Luna-day: Like the joke says, “vote soon, vote often” but laugh soon, laugh often. Perhaps the below excerpts will help.

From Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, in which the more-or-less main character, Oskar, the son of a victim of 9/11, is visiting his therapist (pg. 202, paperback Mariner Books edition),

[therapist,] “What would you say to a little game?”

[therapist,] “I’m going to say a word and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind. You can say a word, a person’s name, or even a sound. Whatever. There are no right or wrong answers here. No rules. Should we give it a try?”

I [Oskar] said, “Shoot.”

[therapist,] “Family.”

I said, “Family.”

He said, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I explained this well … let’s try not to use the same word…”

[therapist,] “Family.”

[Oskar,] “Heavy petting.”

[therapist,] “Heavy petting?”

[Oskar,] “It’s when a man rubs a woman’s VJ with his fingers. Right?”

[therapist,] “Yes, that’s right. OK. There are no wrong answers. How about safety?”

“How about it?”

“OK.”

“Yeah.”

“Bellybutton.”

“Bellybutton?”

“Bellybutton.”

“I can’t think of anything but bellybutton.”

“Give it a try. Bellybutton.”

“Bellybutton doesn’t make me think of anything.”

“Dig deep.”

“In my bellybutton?”

I didn’t read JS Foer’s first novel, Everything Is Illuminated, who knows why; it just never leapt off the shelf and demanded, “Read Me.” Which usually happens when I take down a book, skim the back-of-the-book-summary and then randomly open the book and read a paragraph to see if I like the “feel” of the writing. It’s very non-scientific but hasn’t really failed me many times. So that did happen with Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud (damn, would you believe that I have to re-check the title every time I go to type it?!), the voice of Oskar to be entirely charming. The above passage had me laughing on a recent plane ride- it’s such a wonderful depiction of how sometimes therapists are just missing the boat entirely and how the crazy ways that the mind of a nine-year-old can work. Mini-review, the book is pretty funky in format, what the sqvirrel calls ‘po-mo.’ Pages with only a few words on them, photos interspersed, interspersed narrators who are never explicitly identified, a red pen that circles seemingly random words, phrases, and punctuation points, things like that. I admit that I like that sort of thing. Probably some people think that it’s contrived but as with Kate Atkinson’s Emotionally Weird, I dig it. And the story is touching without being maudlin, in my opinion. And charming. I said that already, didn’t I?

In Frangipani by Célestine Vaite, the characters are often described as “cranky.” Babies that emerge into the world when the mamie is screaming and cursing are “cranky-for-no-reason babies, who grow into cranky-for-no-reason persons. Sometimes characters have “cranky eyes” that the shoot into the backs of other characters. For some reason, this just made me cackle. Cackling being what the characters did instead of just plain old laughing. Excellent! Mini-review, I found the plot arc to be a little, well, not there. I wasn’t really sure where the story was going or where it went when it was all over. But the characters were amusing enough and realistically portrayed such that I didn’t mind. Strong Tahitian women. And alternate spellings for “mommy” (see about turtlebella for why I think this is even important). Yeah, baby!

I know I said a few things. But I’m only doing a couple. Sue me. I’m t-i-d-e, tired.

But how about it? Any books (fiction or non-fiction) that made you laugh out loud?

 

 

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Responses

  1. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson is a recent laugh-out-louder. His cross-cultural observations/anecdotes are so spot-on, and his ability to take his own foibles (if being an American can be considered a foible–and he makes a terrific case for it!) is amazing. I loved this book!


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