Funny fiction part I

Ask, and you shall receive.

So here’s a list of books that I found funny. I am only covering fiction here, which is hard because I find that not a lot of fiction books are funny, at least not funny on purpose. As for non-fiction if you can’t find the funny in David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell or (as much as it pains me to say it) some of Chuck Klosterman’s stuff, well I can’t help you.

Syrup and Jennifer Government by Max Barry
It’s been a long, long, long time since I read Syrup, maybe 10 or so years. I know that I have it in hardcover and it might have come out in the mid to late nineties. However, I do remember that it’s a funny as hell look at marketing and the absurdity behind the advertising and marketing world. Which brings me to Jennifer Government which takes the marketing-crazy world of Syrup a step further where the entire planet is run by marketers. It’s hilarious.

Microserfs and JPod by Douglas Coupland
I’ve been a Coupland fan since my early 20s. In fact, I named my computer Jed because Dan, the narrator of Microserfs, uses it as a password. I think over the years Microserfs has gotten even funnier than it was originally. Why? Because it’s so dated now and it’s funny to read what characters think about “the information superhighway.”

Jpod was often dubbed as a follow-up or sequel to Microserfs, I am not sure why. Maybe because it also takes place in a software company. But that’s where the similarity ends. Jpod is a weird, funny exercise in absurdity with only a little bit in common with reality. Probably one of my top four favorite Coupland books.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
This book often makes my top ten list of favorite books of all time. Why? Because it has that delicious combination of funny and moving that is so rare in a lot of the books I read. I mean, come on a couple who purposely breeds their kids to be circus freaks is hilarious. Learning that even circus freaks are complex people, moving. It’s like a double-plus win win here.

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
I’ve written about Ella Minnow Pea before, you can read about it here.

Happiness by Will Ferguson
A self-help book cures unhappiness, depression, and cynicism, calamity ensues, and it’s really quite funny.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

A 15-year-old autistic boy decides to solve the murder of Wellington, his neighbor’s poodle. While it could have been really easy for Haddon to fall into the trap of being sentimental or condescending towards his autistic narrator, he manages to avoid both and in the process creates a complex character whose view of the world is unflinching in its honesty, and when done right honesty is quite humorous.

The Hotel New Hampshire
and The World According to Garp by John Irving

If you haven’t read either of these books I pity you and the empty spot in your soul where these books would go. No amount of words can even begin to explain the beauty, complexity, and humor found in these Irving novels.

On to Part II

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  1. bakiwop 11.May.08 at 8:14 pm

    muchas gracias amiga! and because you were so kind and generous in fulfilling my request by making this list for me i did something you asked for, too. try this:

    i can’t wait to fire up the old library account and start checking some of these books out. you rock.

  2. Jodi 11.May.08 at 10:36 pm

    there will be a part II sometime tomorrow. I just got bored making the list, because I have ADD.

  3. bakiwop 12.May.08 at 6:04 am

    oh man, bored? ok, how about some HOT FELINE PORN!

  4. david 12.May.08 at 8:17 pm

    Have you seen the CBC adaptation of JPod? Not nearly as funny or clever (and I wasn’t a huge fan of the book at all).

  5. Elizabeth 15.May.08 at 6:01 pm

    Oh, there are so many funny books out there! Interesting selections. Do you like humorous fiction, such as by Janet Evanovich (though I’m getting tired of Stephanie, I do confess) or less “chick lit” books such as by Donald E. Westlake or Carl Hiaasen? Both the latter write some great ones. I recently read a very funny book, “Landmark Status.” Set in Florida and involves a real estate development scheme that goes, as they say, awry, what with everone scrambling to take possession of an old nightclub and turn it into a highrise. There’s an entire roster of colorful characters, including my favotie: the morally upright Indian/Jamaican investment banker who somehow becomes a smuggler. He’s my new favorite action hero!


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