Readers’ Corner – Mar. 2021 – National Let’s Laugh Day

National Let’s Laugh Day, March 19. Sample these books for a chuckle.

The Commitments (Roddy Doyle) follows talented, unemployed, working class Irish as they create a soul band to make a living. Friend/manager Jimmy Rabbit says, “The Irish are the blacks of Europe; Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland; the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. . .say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.” They reach some success with the help of older musician, Joey, until the female members fall en masse for his charm. An outstanding example of Irish charisma and blarney.

Calypso (David Sedaris): This collection of 21 semi-autobiographical essays, hysterically funny as always, also reveals a strong streak of the author’s sensitivity and gloom. And why not? His mother’s alcoholism marked the household, a sister committed suicide, and the entire family is batty as they age and run into problems. A new vacation home stretches family bonds, while classic Sedaris humor addresses a FitBit obsession, his stylin’ culottes, and removal of a noncancerous lipoma tumor. What do these have in common? Sedaris style.

Comic masterpiece: A Confederacy of Dunces, (John Kennedy Toole) overflows with eccentric characters, intriguing subplots, and absurdist humor, set in 1960s New Orleans. Ignatius J. Reilly, an obese and belligerent 30-year-old, self-proclaimed medievalist lives with his mother. His daily tirades against constraints of his “world view” and bumbling attempts to find employment ultimately lead to disaster and redemption (of sorts). Plot threads pull together into a humorous and fitting conclusion. Dunces retains the freshness and originality that won a Pulitzer. Sadly the author committed suicide before the work was published.

The Rosie Project: A Novel (Graeme Simsion). Don Tillman, a brilliant but socially challenged genetics professor, lives a structured, predicable life until he decides to find his perfect partner. In analytical style, he designs the Wife Project, a detailed questionnaire no mortal female could master. Enter Rosie: a red-haired bartender/graduate student lacking most of the qualities Don seeks. Still, he’s intrigued with Rosie’s determination to find her biological father and joins her quest to learn the truth. Lovable characters and a perfectly-paced plot remind us love is not a science, and romance often defies logic.

Author Kathleen Duhamel writes humorous contemporary romance featuring “seasoned” characters. Her newest is Fed Up. Author Bonne McCune’s latest is Never Retreat, a suspenseful romance in Colorado’s wilderness.

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