Humor 911

The 50 Funniest American Writers


Help, I've fallen into a pit of literary despair and can't get out. After four works of murder, mayhem and mystery by Richard Matheson, appropriately collected as "Noir," I turned to another favorite author, Joyce Carol Oates. The title of her book, too, should have warned me off: "Sourland." In one of Matheson's stories, a series of murders is committed by ice pick to the cranium. In Oates, a widow's trip to probate court morphs into a thorough gynecological exam by a uniformed guard.

Suddenly, nothing was funny anymore and I began waking to nightmares. So, I searched the SLCL catalog with the keyword, "humor."

I wanted no mystery shoppers tripping over corpses; I wanted no sleuthsome cats; likewise, schooling in the wit of Oscar Wilde held no appeal. Such recommendations nearly convinced me to abandon hope of resuscitating my sense of humor. Then, among SLCL's new material I found this boastful title, "The 50 Funniest American Writers."Selected and introduced by Andy Borowitz, satirist in the New Yorker magazine, the collection includes proven performers from Twain to The Onion online magazine.

Check out Dave Barry's wry advice to women about relationships with guys. Or read Susan Orlean's views on freeloading babies. If all else fails, turn to George Carlin's locker-room rant on language abuses that peeve him. For me, David Sedaris stilled the troubled waters of gloom. His guide to fashion sense, "Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie," opened the flood gates and I sailed through on breaking waves of laughter. People around me narrowed their eyes with expressions that questioned was it drugs or was it insanity and if so was I dangerous; after all, I was also armed with a book.

Though some reviewers note the macabre humor of Joyce Carol Oates, she was overlooked by Borowitz in "The 50 Funniest American Writers." Yet, among the fifty authors who are represented, there's sure to be comic relief to suit every taste.

--Bob S., Rock Road Branch


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