The comic novel

First, let me just say (not directly related to the above title, although her books can be funny, and she more so) that Barbara Seranella seems to be doing a lot better. Her body seems to be accepting the second liver, and although she’s got a long recovery ahead, the worst of the white-knuckles phase may be passing. Don’t expect to see her at BoucherCon in Chicago, however. Ever Superwoman has her limits.


Reading Robert McCrum’s recent biography of PG Wodehouse, I was reminded that this brilliant if personally odd creator of such inimitable individuals as Jeeves and Psmith also wrote some of the catchiest songs of the Thirties’e2’80’94

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking
Now heaven knows,
Anything goes.

(Now you’re going to have that bouncy little tune in your head all day, aren’t you? Sorry.)

The touch necessary for comic genius is deft and undefinable. Like pornography, I know it when I see it; also like pornography, it varies wildly with the eye of the individual beholder. How else to explain the popularity of Jasper Fforde, that most heavy-handed of modern comedic writers? And I’ve been working my way through Mark Helprin’s FREDDY AND FREDERICKA, in which a literary writer adopts the same techniques. A bumbling Prince of Whales who stumbles naked out of Buckingham Palace into a patch of tar and seizes a homeless man’s (can you guess it?) yes, feather pillow, which explodes and… His ardent lover, the countess Boylinghotte. A manor named Moncay House, a dog with the Chinese name of Pha-Kew (after whom the aforementioned bumbling P of W has to run, shouting the name loudly), an Australian newspaper magnate named Digeridoo….

You get the picture. The funniest part of the book so far is the way in which the manifold problems the P of W and his wife Diana–er, I mean Fredericka–have when they are dropped into New Jersey, naked and without resources, magically fade as soon as they get into the hands of the African American community. 200 pages in.

It isn’t even that slapstick humor isn’t funny, because it is–if you haven’t read Alexander McCall Smith’s trilogy about the linguistics professor, you should. The first one, PORTUGUESE IRREGULAR VERBS, is quite amusing, in a lovely dry British way. But there is a scene in the second one that has never failed to evoke startled gurgles followed by outright belly laughs and even tears of laughter from the people I’ve given the book to. And I’ve given it to a lot of readers with widely varying senses of humor and degrees of sensitivity. Read the first book, to lay the groundwork, but please don’t miss the second, THE FINER POINTS OF SAUSAGE DOGS.

The bludgeon approach to humor, in which the reader can see the blow coming, as if in slow motion, and has to stand in place waiting for it to fall, somehow doesn’t do it for me. Dry and understated incongruities, startling slaps to the back of the head, yes–I aim for those in the Russell books, although by and large reviewers don’t seem to grasp that they’re meant to be funny books, so I don’t bring it up. Readers in general often get it, although they’re still startled to find me amusing behind a microphone. Perhaps it’s just that anyone with a vaguely Edwardian hairstyle and a background in theology isn’t expected to be able to make jokes?

And the logical follow-up comment here would be, If you can’t makes jokes about God, what can you make jokes about? However, in the current era, more humorless than the Eisenhowerian, God is off limits.

Anyway. Does anyone out there have a particular funny book they’d like to recommend?

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  1. Chris on July 26, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    So glad to see you refer to the AMS trilogy! I recently bought the omnibus edition (2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom) of all three in the series to read on a long plane journey – they are great.

    I like to think I’d found some of the fun bits in the Russell books, but don’t like to presume! All I can say is, long may she continue.

    As for humour in novels – I love the Christopher Brookmyre novels, in particular, ‘A Big Boy did it and ran Away’. I start laughing at the titles, let alone when I’m reading them…And these are Tartan Noir!

    The first few Stephanie Plums were fun, and I miss Sparkle Hayter’s Robin Hudson books. They were fun, too…

  2. Jennifer Ice on July 26, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    Dear Laurie,
    One of the sweetest funny books I have read is the Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas. It is about a quilt club during the depression who hides a secret. It is a nice change from heavier tomes.

    I look forward to reading more of Alexander McCall Smith’s books. I’ve only read the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency so far. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Jennifer Ice on July 26, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    Dear Laurie,
    Another book that made me laugh till I cried and touched me as well is Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas, about, the author, an Iranian girl, growing up in both Iran and America. I enjoyed it even more after reading Reading Lolita in Tehran.

  4. Michelle H on July 26, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    The absolutly most hysterical book I’ve ever read (and I really do read a lot!) is Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. Funny, funny, funny.
    An author who is just really funny (in a very dry way) is Peter David. He writes a lot of Star Trek, but he’s got two trilogies of his own (Sir Apropos of Nothing and a modern King Arthur one) that are very witty as well.

  5. Melissa on July 26, 2005 at 3:53 pm

    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole is the funniest tragedy I have ever read.

  6. J. Ahronheim on July 26, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    Dear Ms. King,
    I have reviewed Robert McCrum’s biography but was unable to locate the attribution of the lyrics of “Anything Goes” to P.G. Wodehouse. It was my understanding from the text that he was responsible only for the amendment of the lyrics for the London production that reflected his concerns about the coming war:
    “When in the House our legislators
    Are calling each other ‘Traitors’
    and ‘So and so’s’
    Anything goes.”
    The lyrics you quoted, on the other hand, are the work of Cole Porter. Yours pedantically,
    J. Ahronheim

  7. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    Humor is a strange thing for me. I do like like or understand slapstick and most silliness leaves me cold. Wit, parody, and satire, I love.There are some bits of wordplay which leave me gasping with laughter, though they’ve all gone down the memory hole except one – a totally obvious visual joke in the movie version of 1984. “…and here comes a chopper to chop off your head (sound of rotor blades)…”

    Pat Mathews (nose in a book from Russ-L)

  8. Erin on July 26, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    Oh my gosh! Thursday Next is one of my favorite characters. I love Jasper Fforde! And, if it is at all possible, he’s even more funny in person. I had the pleasure of attending one of his book events in Berkeley last summer…amazing!

    Hmm…funny books. I’d have to say Christopher Moore’s novel Lamb is in my top three. The full title is: Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal. If that doesn’t cause raised eyebrows of curiousity, I don’t know what does=)

  9. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    “Anything Goes” was written in 1934 by Cole Porter, himself quite a character. Ethel Merman made the song popular.

  10. Rebecca on July 26, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    I just finished With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed, a comic novel by Lynne Truss. I haven’t decided yet whether I liked it. It was very, um, wacky.

  11. Cornelia on July 26, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    It’s funny that it is so often poetry or other short text forms (like jokes) that strike the comic chord – seldom longer texts, let alone complete novels. I remember laughing tears when reading Joan Aiken’s “Escaped Black Mamba”, but that was something like sixteen years ago when I still would qualify as a child and thus intended reader.
    Incredibly comic and yet melancholic books I love: “Popular Music from Vittula” by Mikael Niemi (even better in the Swedish version, of course) and “Birds, Beasts and Relatives” by Gerald Durrell.

  12. Cornelia again on July 26, 2005 at 7:40 pm

    Not to forget “My Family and Other Animals” …

  13. Forgetful Cornelia one last time on July 26, 2005 at 8:00 pm

    Plus that best of all comic writers, Curt Goetz – although I am not sure whether his autobiography (“Peterhans von Binningen”) has been translated into English.

  14. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    The Amelia Peabody books (Elizabeth Peters) are great examples of historical mysteries that also spoof their own genre in a very hilarious way.

  15. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 8:43 pm

    How about Tish by Mary Roberts Rinehart? old but it still made me laugh!

  16. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 8:54 pm

    The trilogy by Rita Mae Brown about two elderly sisters: Bingo, Six of One, and Loose Lips are a stitch. Laugh out loud kind of story, at least for me.

    Clyde Edgerton’s Lunch at the Picadilly was another recently that had me laughing aloud.


  17. vianne on July 26, 2005 at 9:35 pm

    I realize you are mainly discussing comic novels, and some of my favorites have already been posted. But I’d like to add the travelogues of Bill Bryson. “Notes from a Small Island” is wonderful for anyone who has spent time travelling around England. I’ve also enjoyed “Neither Here nor There” for more Euro rambling; “In a Sunburned Country” about Australia;and “A Walk in The Woods” about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Bryson makes history interesting and his anecdotes are stomach-achingly funny.

  18. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    I would suggest Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters (yes, that’s the real spelling). Written by her when she was a child (late Victorian era or Edwardian, I forget) it is hysterical. She obviously sat around listening to adults, but was too young to understand what was meant: hence, one of the main characters, Mr. Salteena, who is “not quite a gentleman.” My favorite line, describing Mr. Salteena’s ride through London: “The Crystal Palace heaved into view.” (Her grammar and spelling, all idiosyncratic, are retained.) Frequently reprinted, I think it is in print now.

    I would also suggest Suds in Your Eye, by Mary Lasswell. Written in the 1940’s, it’s the story of three old women living togetherin WW2 San Diego, who throughly enjoy drinking beer: Mrs. Feeley, in whose house/junkyard they live; Mrs. Rasmussen, who is the world’s greatest cook (Laswell ultimately published Mrs. Rasmussen’s Book of One Arm Cookery); and the very reeeefined Miss Tinkham, spinster ex-piano teacher. One of my favorite moments is when, leaving a bar, and a long way from home, Mrs. Feeley opens the rear door of a car stopped at a light and all three pile in — for a ride home as their feet are killing them. What could the poor driver (a total stranger) do?

    The next book in the series is equally good, then they sort of lose some of their charm. There are the period racial terms for the Japanese, but no others. I believe these are out of print.

  19. Elisa on July 26, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    Not a novel, but Farley Mowat’s “Never Cry Wolf” had my stomach muscles sore for days. Not an easy ending, but he’s a great writer.

  20. Carol on July 26, 2005 at 11:11 pm

    Another very amusing book about families is Shirley Jackson’s “Life Among the Savages”. I was very surprised to see that this is the same Shirley Jackson who wrote creepy stories like “The Lottery” but she has a marvelous time describing the apparently irrational behavior of young children (and their parents). The scene with the cat and the chipmunk makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.

    I would also highly recommend, “To Say Nothing of the Dog” nd “Bellwether” by Connie Willis. She has a light, deft comic touch. Good for a gentle smile

  21. Jenni on July 26, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    I completely agree with you that comedy is in the eye of the beholder. Just to prove it, I hated the “Portuguese Irregular Verbs” trilogy, and Jasper Fforde’s latest is at the top of my TBR. *g*

    Donna Andrews writes some very, very funny books. “Murder with Peacocks” is the first in the series.

  22. Jacqui on July 27, 2005 at 1:50 am

    My older sister has just finished reading a book called The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. She laughed through most of the book. Another amazing book I can reccomend is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell written by Susanna Clark. It has funny parts, and the best way I can describe it is an adult Harry Potter.

  23. laura on July 27, 2005 at 2:56 am

    I usually don’t seek out “funny” books. I like the humor to be included in the book of the moment. That said, the works of Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams, and Janet Evanovich make me laugh so hard that tears fall and smiles ensue.

  24. ShySusan on July 27, 2005 at 3:41 am

    Bill Bryson’s, In a Dry Country nearly caused the death of me and my son. We were listening to the audio version as we were traveling on the freeway, and suddenly I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t control the car properly. Thank goodness it was early Sunday morning and there wasn’t much traffic.

    Thanks for all the book recommendations. I’m adding them to my list of books I want to read.

  25. Sarah on July 27, 2005 at 4:46 am

    Hi, Laurie.
    I’d recommend The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. They’re fantasy books that are also brilliantly humorous parodies.
    I love the humor in your Russell books precisely because the jokes are always so unexpected that they manage to crack me up every time. The “Mr. Russell” bit in The Game, for example, was simply hilarious.

  26. Jaimee Drew on July 27, 2005 at 6:33 am

    To further the Terry Pratchett claim- the essential read is “Good Omens”, which is co-written by Neil Gaiman, the graphic novelist (Comic book writer extraordinaire, in fact).

    It’s about a demon and and an angel (they quite enjoy each others’ company over a nice bottle of wine) that aren’t convinced the Apocalypse is really that great an idea. So they decide to buck ineffability and try to find the Antichrist (an eleven year old boy with a hell hound that likes chasing rabbits) and convince him… Well, it’s definitely worth a read, and with your background in comparative religion and your appreciation of British humor… It’s full of subtle and not so subtle humor, and still makes me laugh out loud on the 5th perusal.

    Terry Pratchett has written so many books it is almost ridiculous, and they may be the equivalent of literary junk food, but they are addicting. My personal favorite of the Discworld series is “Night Watch”.

    Regarding your comment on reviewers, I have laughed out loud at Russell’s various funny bits, as well. Perhaps the reason reviewers don’t generally find her funny is that they don’t have a sense of humor. It seems quite possible they are unable to appreciate a subtle touch, at the very least.

  27. Anonymous on July 27, 2005 at 7:54 am

    I’m a fan of “The Sword in the Stone” by T.H. White… the whole Once and Future King is amazing, but the first book is the most lighthearted.

    As for making jokes about God, I’m studying in Israel at the moment with mostly Christian theology students from around the world… and the humor is priceless.

  28. HB on July 27, 2005 at 8:41 am

    “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” By Tom Robbins is really funny. And a Norwegian writer who is really funny: Erlend Loe. Don’t know if he’s translated, but if he is: check him out. Others already mentioned: Bill Bryson, Terry Pratchett (the wee free men!), Douglas Adams, Mikael Niemi.

  29. R.J. Anderson on July 27, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    Everyone has no doubt read these already, but I find the collected works of James Herriot to be excruciatingly funny. The episode with Cedric the boxer hound had me literally weeping into my pillow and pounding the mattress with one fist in agonized hilarity.

  30. Debra Hamel on July 27, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    Amen on Jasper Fforde. I liked the first one, but somewhere in the middle of the second I started screaming FOR GOD’S SAKE, STOP! at the book. Haven’t touched him since.

    Two really funny novels come to mind, of very different sorts. The first is Richard Russo’s STRAIGHT MAN, which is downright hysterical as well as superbly written. The second is Gideon DeFoe’s THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS. Now, DeFoe’s got a second pirate book coming out soon, and I don’t know whether he’ll be able to pull off this particular type of humor a second time, a la Fforde. I hope he does, though.

  31. Melanie on July 27, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    Others have already mentioned some of my all-time favorites (Elizabeth Peters, Gerald Durrell, Terry Pratchett) but I’ll add “Blue Heaven” by Joe Keenan and “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis” by Tony Hawks. (Both earned me dirty looks because they made me laugh out loud while in public. Tsk. No sense of decorum, me.)

  32. Anonymous on July 27, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    I would have to add the novels of Robert Anton Wilson (“The Illuminatus Trilogy,” “Schroedinger’s Cat Trilogy”), although they aren’t to everyone’s flavor. They’ve provided me with some real gut busters.

  33. Dahra on July 28, 2005 at 2:05 am

    No doubt I am the only person in the world who thinks this, but for some reason Hegel’s _Phenomenology of Spirit_ is hilarious. Specifically because I don’t understand a scrap of it. I read it to my cat, and to people’s babies.

  34. Maer aka "Merely a whim." on July 28, 2005 at 3:34 am

    I realize that Judith Martin’s “Miss Manners” doesn’t quite qualify for comedic novel–though I believe she has written at least two of them–but reading her answers to etiquette dilemmas just slay me silly. Plus I generally learn something into the bargain. Can’t beat that.


  35. FeltHat on July 28, 2005 at 11:54 am

    Have you seen any reports about proposed legislation in Britain that would make it illegal to joke about god?
    In case you offend anyone – its a political correctness thing – let me see if I can find some links to the BBC or something…

    Oh & funny books – the late great Douglas Adams always had me ROFL – a man who understood the absurd!

  36. Alexandra on July 28, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    My favorite comic authors are
    – Marian Keyes
    – Janet Evanovich
    – Lise Myrhe
    The latter is actually a Norwegian cartoon/comic writer/drawer, who has been translated to Swedish, but not English I’m afraid.

  37. QweySpiral on July 28, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    My vote is for A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I have bought copies of this for friends several times over the past ten years. It also causes me to smile as I walk the streets of New Orleans when I visit.

    Last I heard, Stephen Fry bought the film rights. I think he’d be perfect but it will be a very tricky project.

    It’s really a brilliant book but so sad! The author commited suicide and his Mom dragged the manuscript around begging people to read it for years!

    It’s one of the few books that I can honestly say, leaves its reader a changed person, will also leave you breathless from unguarded fits of giggles -do not read this book on the subway, people will move away and stare at you!

  38. QweySpiral on July 28, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    re: making jokes about God

    a rabbi told me once that God invented people because he like stories…

    it only follows that a good joke would be much appreciated

  39. Whitmangirl on July 28, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    I have to say, I do love Jasper Fford’s books (they help me get through exam time every semester), and if you get the chance you MUST go hear him in person. I’d also like to second the recommendation for Michael Chabon’s Kavalier and Clay (one of the best books I’ve ever read) and to throw in my own for his absolutely hilarious “Wonder Boys.” As a writer, I think you’ll particularly enjoy that one.

  40. Terminaldegree on July 28, 2005 at 7:14 pm

    I get a real kick out of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. They’ve actually made me laugh out loud. They are goofy, frothy books about an incredibly clutzy bounty hunter with a penchant for donuts and men who aren’t very good for her. Throw in a wacky, disfunctional family in New Jersey, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Not great literature, but a fun romp.

  41. caroline on July 28, 2005 at 7:44 pm

    I can’t believe no one mentioned the Kinkster. That would be Kinky Friedman’s totally unique Kinkster NYC Noir sort of sideways mysteries. It won’t be the entire story that will drop you but the one liners here and there are right up there with Dorothy P. I mean, what can you say about a man who named his country western band (really) The Texas Jewboys? (they were, well, three out of four and the fourth was honorary)… but maybe you know him.

  42. Elaine B. Mulligan on July 28, 2005 at 10:36 pm

    “Letters from a Nut” by Ted L Nancy is laugh out loud funny – I had tears in my eyes reading the letters to the King of Tonga and the Mars Candy company. I got it as a gift years ago and my sister and mother took turns reading it aloud to the family – it really is funniest when sharing it with others.

  43. Kathy on July 29, 2005 at 1:23 am

    Carol: you might want to check out the pullquotes on your copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog: “I have long thought that Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat is one of the highest points of Inimitable British Humor. I chuckle; I gurgle; I know those three men ‘e2’80’94 to say nothing of the dog. And now I am convinced there was a woman concealed in that boat, too: Connie Willis.” –Laurie R. King is on mine. 🙂 I add only that Connie Willis’s novella, “Inside Job” has recently been published.

    Well, aside from Thorne Smith (Topper, Night Life of the Gods) and Damon Runyon, and seconding the Pratchett recommends, I’d like to add Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder books to the list.

  44. 2maple on July 29, 2005 at 1:28 pm

    Bill Bryson gets my vote at the author of books that truly make me laugh. I haven’t read one that has let me down yet (I save them as treats to read on vacation). I also love Dave Barry…his first book was good, but actually, what I really like are his columns.

    As for The Confederacy of Dunces, that was one that my entire book club wrote off as a dismal failure…not one of us liked it, but as you say perspectives vary.

    …and Portugese Irregular Verbs is on my list of things to read, so I’m glad to hear there are more in that series.

  45. Debra Hamel on July 31, 2005 at 12:00 am

    In my last comment I foolishly forgot to mention some of the funniest things I’ve read in years. Don’t know how I forgot: Mil Millington’s two novels, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About and A Certain Chemistry. Also put on the list of funny books Maarten Troost’s The Sex Lives of Cannibals.

  46. Nancy B on July 31, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    ‘Breakup’ by Dana Stabenow & “Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ by Lynne Truss.

  47. HB on July 31, 2005 at 10:11 pm

    You can find Lise Myhre’s “Nemi” in English here:

  48. WDI on August 1, 2005 at 6:51 pm

    Ditto on Donna Andrews and Terry Pratchett. Other favorites are some of Georgette Heyer’s Regencies — “Frederica” and “The Grandy Sophy” are my top picks. I start grinning in anticipation of the best bits (“You didn’t say it was in *Asia*, cousin!”), and usually wind up giggling through them no matter how often I’ve read both.

    Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series has some choice scenes as well . . .

    Oh — and I almost forgot — Steven Brust’s Draghaera novels (the Dumas parodies in particular, beginning with “The Phoenix Guards”) also leave me in stitches.

  49. Kerowyn on August 2, 2005 at 8:25 am

    I’m going to throw my weight behind Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett as well, and add Eoin Colfer and J.K. Rowling. Mr. Colfer’s books never fail to cause me to burst into uncontrollable giggles and Ms. Rowling has such a deft touch with her characters.

    But I’m going to go out on a limb here with my last two nominations, since neither of them are actually published. “The Protectors of the Plot Continuum” and “OFUM” are hosted on their author’s websites, and both series are laugh out loud funny, although they are in much the same vein as Mr. Fforde’s works.

  50. Diana on August 2, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    Anything by Robertson Davies; in particular The Cornish Trilogy, starting with The Rebel Angels.

  51. Elle on August 3, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    I’d like to second the James Herriott books. I reread those at least once a year and they never fail to make me laugh out loud.

    Another comic writer is Patrick McManus, who wrote columns for Field and Stream for years. He has several collections of short stories dealing with life in rural Idaho and outdoor sports and they are all absolutely hilarious. My dad and I share this particular guilty pleasure, but the rest of my family stares at me in disbelief when I read them in public. I can’t help laughing so hard it hurts. My favorite collection is probably The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw.

    Another funny book I really like is Dorothy Cannell’s The Thin Woman. This is the first in a series of books, but is the only one I really like. For anyone who hasn’t read it, the plot centers around an inheritance prize. The main character, a plus-sized woman, and her “pretend” fiance have to solve a family mystery in order to win an inheritance left to them jointly by the woman’s great uncle. She also has to lose 2 1/2 stone in weight and he has to write a non-vulgar book in 6 months. Hilarity ensues. Light-hearted and fun, and, like Sayer’s Gaudy Night, is a mystery without a murder.

  52. Anonymous on November 16, 2005 at 10:21 pm

    Somebody mentioned James Herriot, and I couldn’t agree more. His are the only books that I can read and reread over and over again. I love the fact that the chapters stand alone, so even busy people or non-readers can still enjoy the odd chapter or two of a Herriot book.

    I’d like to recommend a much newer book that had me crying with laughter. This author’s other books are written in a slightly different style, but this one is hilarious. It is ‘The Gold Coast’ by Nelson deMille.

  53. Elle on December 14, 2005 at 3:26 am

    Hello all,

    I have to agree with the Terry Pratchett nomination to the list of all time funny reads. My favorite character has to be Vetinari (he went to assassins school, and majored in language). LOL!

    As for the humor in the Russell books, I have to say that I found some of the bits in the second novel to be howlingly funny: “I almost fell off the back of the hansom.” and “…half the diseases of Europe.” and “…he almost fell back into the river.” and “…that caused me some moments of deep consternation, I assure you.” (I hope I quoted those correctly; I lent my copies of the Russell novels to a friend and haven’t gotten them back yet. Grrrr.)

    Maybe I have a warped sense of humor, but those were, for some reason, the bits that made me laugh the hardest.

  54. Anonymous on July 3, 2006 at 11:05 am


  55. shead on September 9, 2006 at 1:57 am

    And of course Stella Gibbons’ ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ (passionate British yokels in the 1930’s), delicious satire on pretentious arty types too. A sendup of a popular genre at the time. And don’t forget ‘Aunty Mame’, the book by Patrick Dennis.

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