Tag Archives: Humor

ron

Ron’s #36: Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Yes, that Fletch, the same character from the 1985 movie with Chevy Chase. After I saw that movie in high school, I read a few of the books on which it was based. Gregory Mcdonald has nine books with Irwin Maurice Fletcher as an investigative reporter sleuthing, disguising, and lying his way through the mystery. The two Fletch movies portray him as more goofy than he is in the novels, but the books are good reads before bedtime.

Confess, Fletch is the second in the series, and has Fletch fly in to Boston to find a murdered woman in his rented house. While trying to solve that murder, he is also trying to track down stolen paintings from a family heirloom from a possibly crooked art dealer.

Mcdonald’s writing style is breezy and quick, with lots of dialogue to move the story along. If you are interested in mystery novels, this could be for you. I’m not a mystery reader usually. I just like spending time with arrogant smart-alecks.

ron

Ron’s #33: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.  Jonathan Swift

Swift’s quotation describes Ignatius J. Reilly better than you could possible imagine. The entire world is filled with idiots interfering, cheating, manipulated the misunderstood genius, or so it seems in Ignatius’s mind. Ignatius is over-educated, under-motivated, overweight, and socially deformed in his quest to, well, to do nothing. His mother is over-bearing yet sympathetic, but she is running out of patience with her TV-watching son. The story begins with a small car accident in New Orleans, forcing Ignatius to seek employment to pay help pay for the damages. The results are pure comedy.

Ignatius hops from a clerk in a failing clothing company to a hot dog vendor to a political organizer in an effort to bring his intelligence to a much lower element of society. Lucky them. The story is filled with flawed characters: a hapless police office, a detached business owner and his condescendingly liberal wife, a busybody neighbor, a stripper with a heart of gold, a flamboyant party organizer, a cruel strip bar owner, an elderly clerk with dementia, and female college activist with a penchant for bad screenplays and petty antics. And, of course, is Jones, a Black janitor for the less-than-reputable Night of Joy strip club. Jones is the least educated yet the sharpest character in the bunch.

But the real story is Ignatius himself. His “Oh my God!” gasps, complaints about his heart valve, and his sophisticated turnings of a phrase make this a funny, funny book. As readers we both love and despise Ignatius. Either way, we watch him with car wreck-like wonder.

The story behind the book is interesting: the book was published posthumously after his mother nagged Walker Percy to read it. Toole committed suicide in 1969, and the novel was published in 1980. It won the Pulizer Prize the following year.

I’ve wanted to read this book for years now. Mark read it this year, and his review nudged me to start it. I alternated reading the book with listening to the audio book. I’m glad I listened to it, because this is the best production of any audio book I’ve ever heard. The performance of Ignatius and Jones is unbelievable.

mark

Mark’s #44 – How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley

This book is a series of essays about the author’s life.  I was looking for a light read, and I’ve enjoyed reading similar books by the likes of David Sedaris.  In Fact, many reviews compared Crosley’s writings to Sedaris, and David himself endorses the book on the inside cover.

To be clear, this is not must read literature, though it is, at times mildly entertaining to read about the life of this Jewish girl from the suburbs, moved to Manhattan, and taking trips to places like Alaska, Lisbon, and Paris.  I enjoyed her dry sense of humor and curious analogies.   There’s stories about being convinced by her friend to go to the confessional at Notre Dame in Paris, only to get the priest who speaks only Japanese and French.  Another story recounts her love found and lost in NYC by a dude who, as it turns out, had another girlfriend the entire time – all this tied to the time when she had a connection at a very expensive furniture store who would sell her ‘used’ items at an extreme discount through various shady meetings on NYC street corners… At times I felt sad for her as she lives out a postmodern worldview and worldly values.

 

ron

Ron’s #46: Candide by Voltaire

 

Yes, this is a rereading of a book for school, but like most books, I got more out of it on a second reading. I love this short novel of a young man’s journey through the world of sin, evil, and darkness to test preconceived theological and philosophical notions that this world is the “best of all possible worlds.”

 

Candide is Voltaire’s indictment on an active, benevolent God, but he ignores the important fact that without an absolute standard of what is good, how can we call anything evil? Why are all the wars, rapes, thieving, murder, and vengeance Candide experiences considered evil if there is no measuring stick to define it against an absolute good? In the words of C. S. Lewis, how can we call a line crooked without any notion of a straight line? Contrary to Voltaire’s findings, the evil and wickedness in Candide’s world point to absolutes of goodness, fairness, and honesty. If there is no God in this world, how does the atheist explain the evil? To what standard can he call rape and murder wrong if there is no ultimate goodness?

 

My last year’s review of Candide is found here.

 

 

 

ron

Ron’s #42: Tartuffe by Moliere

Here is another school book that I reread to prepare for teaching it. Tartuffe is a hypocrite who deceives Orgon into betraying his family. It’s Moliere’s massive suck-up to King Lois XIV with the worst Deus ex machina I’ve read. It’s almost as bad as if it ended with waking up from a dream.

My last review is here.

Facebook Like Button for Dummies