Paper Cuts, the blog about books at the New York Times raised an interesting question earlier this week: What’s the funniest novel ever written?
Wow. I’ve read some hilarious tomes in my time. I thought about it for a while, reviewed the list of books I've read that I keep at Goodreads.com and I’ve come up with 15 novels that I thought were really funny. The list would be way longer if we could include memoirs, plays, humor books and Dorothy Parker’s book reviews, but here goes:
The 15 Funniest Novels Gina’s Ever Read (not in order):
1. Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace (I know it’s not a novel, but these are the loopiest short stories I’ve ever read. Wallace’s suicide last Friday is such a loss to the world of letters)
2. Any and all Kurt Vonnegut books. Just a master of humorous storytelling who made even the most tragic stuff funny.
3. One Hunded Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (Who knew this critically aclaimed work of Magic Realism was also hilarious?)
4. I’m Losing You by Bruce Wagner (Like DFW, Wagner isn’t afraid to pull celebrities into his work – and skewer them)
5. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Chandler’s wisecracking gumshoe Philip Marlowe helped balance the light and dark of his noir)
6. Et Tu, Babe? Mark Leyner (I read every book Leyner wrote in the 1990s and giggled the whole time)
7. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (How does Hornby say all those profound things so simply and cleverly?)
8. The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames (A charming book about eccentrics – from a guy who ought to know)
9. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (in addition to every other superlative given the book, it’s super funny! Also, nominated: the lesser known Pnin)
10. Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. (The first book I read by Robbins and still my favorite).
11. Postcards From The Edge by Carrie Fisher (yes, a novel full of one-liners can work. Something tells me Fisher is a Groucho Marx fan)
12. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (another author who expertly walks the tightrope between funny and sad)
13. Candide by Voltaire (Imagine my surprise when I read this for my own self-edification as a teenager and it turned out to be hilarious)
14. Lorrie Moore (I know – she writes short stories, sue me)
15. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (It’s a parody, right?)
Now add yours and we’ll make the biggest list in the world!