Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Some books that make me laugh

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.
A.A. Milne

One of my favorite writers was the disorganized mad scientist Kurt Vonnegut, who often included a caricature of himself named "Kilgore Trout" in his work. This character wrote science fiction books that were only sold in pornography shops, and wrote like he lived, which is to say highly disorganized, messy, creative, and at times brilliantly, which was very much true of Vonnegut himself.

Reading Vonnegut you might guess that he had given up on the human race, while meanwhile he wrote hilarious books that all contained just a slight glimmer of hope. During some hard times in my very extended adolescence, Kurt Vonnegut's books were like a refuge in the storm. He constantly made me think, made me laugh, and ultimately made me write. Although I only met the man once at a writers' conference, he was a constant friend, companion, and advisor as I made my way from an angry young man into someone who now rarely gets mad at anything. I include here a link to his entire works online, with the hopes that you will read, or in many cases reread this wonderful author

Next I want to tell you about a book that in my opinion is one of the funniest things ever written. The books is a Confederacy of Dunces and I apologize but I have as yet failed to find the entire book online. I'm certain it's out there somewhere, but in the meantime check this out as a teaser.

This book will bring joy into your life, I guarantee it. I literally laughed until I was in tears the first time I read it, and every couple of years when I revisit this book I find it just as funny as the first time i read it. It is truly a gift of laughter, and if you haven't read it, please, please, trust me that you will be in stitches reading it.

A sad footnote to this story is the author John Kennedy Toole killed himself at the age of 32 before the novel was ever published. His mother dragged the novel into the famous Southern author Walker Percy who was sure it was going to be trash. He read it and realized it was a masterpiece, and one thing led to another and the book eventually sold millions of copies and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981, 12 years after Toole had died. The book is, in my life unequivocal in its ability to make me laugh. If you haven't read, again, please check it out.

Some other books that have made me laugh are The Catcher in the Rye, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Stranger than Fiction by Chuck Palahnuik, the works of Augusten Burroughs, and Catch 22, in no particular order. What books make you laugh? I'd love to hear. I firmly believe the next Confederacy of Dunces is sitting on someone's shelf somewhere just waiting to be read and discovered.

In the interest of sharing, here is one of my own short stories of something funny that happened to me.


Staggo"s List said...

Wow--I'm glad I'm now a reader of your blog. My favorite Vonnegut book is Sirens of Titan.
Thanks for the book suggestions. I've heard of A Confederacy of Dunces. Now, I'll read it. I read your short story, "My Brother Eats Diseased Fish". Great.

Sorry--I think Catcher in the Rye sucks.

I'll be back.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe, I'm a new reader to your blog, but really like your posts! Books that really make me laugh out loud are limited, and mostly in Dutch (and probably with a typically Dutch sense of humour) so that's of no help to you..
An international one that did make me laugh out loud (kind of embarrassing in a crowded room I must add ;-)):
Rex Pickett's Sideways. Much better than the movie I must add..
And, well not the types of books you're refering to, but Dilbert sure makes me laugh too!

Anonymous said...

Confederacy is a fantastic read! I read it on a solo backpacking trip after I divorced some 13 years ago and the book alone was like a vacation. Jenkins Meadow in Nantahala National Forest (NC) rang with laughter in the dark as I sat in my tent reading with a flashlight!

Anonymous said...

My favorite Kurt Vonnegut book is "Thank you, Dr. Kavorkian." He will be missed...

Armand Rousso said...

Healing through laughter has been criticised several time but we must admit it does improve the health of patients. It is only positive thinking.

Threat Assessment & Response Canada said...


I feel validated!

Disorderly is NOT the same as disorganized. I knew it!

And laughing is good just about any time. :)