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I'm just getting around to reading Catch 22. I love the comedic tone of the book, and while I like reading novels, I typically end up reading more action/suspense, partly because I just don't think of books as the place to find this style of dry, irreverant comedy that I enjoy so much. (I assume I would also like "Thank You For Smoking" - or whatever the novel was called - based on liking the movie...)

So what else should I check out? What are the best comedic novels out there?

Oh, and no spoilers, 'cause I'm not done with it, and haven't seen the movie adaptation either!

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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I've been plugging Nick Hornby's writing for awhile now, and High Fidelity always seems to come up in my posts. Even Hornby's mediocre novels are quite funny and more than occasionally insightful. About a Boy is also very good; even his latest, A Long Way Down, is better than one might expect for a novel about four people who make a suicide pact. Hornby's novels have a tendency to fall apart at the end (although these three hold up OK, for the most part), but getting there is a lot of fun.

Edwin O'Connor's The Last Hurrah is a good one for dry political satire. Speaking of which, Primary Colors by "Anonymous" (aka Joe Klein), is at times searingly funny, if you can get past the foul, foul language and the fact that it's ultimately a sadly realistic portrait of the contemporary campaign trail.

C.S. Lewis is perhaps an obvious choice, but I've always found That Hideous Strength, the third book in his "space trilogy," to be as great a satire of politics, morality, academia and social class as The Screwtape Letters.

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the funniest novel about the Apocalypse.

Big Trouble by Dave Barry, a thematic cousin of Carl Hiassen, whose books I also like.

Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston is an amusing look at the Christian singles' dating scene.

Right Behind, by Nathan D. Wilson, a parody of those oh-so-classic Left Behind books.

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Catch 22 is probably my fave. Favorite line:

"His specialty was alfalfa and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. ... He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise. 'As ye sow, so shall ye reap,' he counseled one and all, and everyone said, 'Amen.' "

Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is probably number two.

And I really liked both, but to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever read any others I'd call "comedic." Most of my reading is non-fiction.

Edited by Chashab
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i enjoyed christopher moore's lamb (for the most part).

tom robbins is always a hoot, or at least his earlier stuff is: another roadside attraction, even cowgirls get the blues, still life with woodpecker, jitterbug perfume were all tight. kind of lost interest with skinny legs and all so i can't comment on the new work much. you must love writers riffing if'n ya wanna enjoy him, tho.

and douglas coupland is wickedly slyly drily humorous. more than clever. very understated.

I don't deny that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet. - G. K. Chesterton

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Nice. Some great suggestions - keep 'em coming!

(I should be able to get through them all quickly, 'cause it looks like a lot of them have been made into movies, so I don't even need to read the book!) ;)

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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What about 'Innocents Abroad' and 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' by Mark Twain? They are laugh out loud funny.

'The Diary of Adrian Plass,' a British publication, is also downright uproariously funski.

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

--T.S. Eliot--
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Raney by Clyde Edgerton is a comedy of opposites attracting--southern Baptist girl and Episcopalian boy fall in love. The only thing they have in common is their love of bluegrass music. Can this relationship survive? Very, very funny without being cruel.

Also by Edgerton: Walking Across Egypt and its sequel, Killer Diller (which satirizes Christian higher education)

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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no one has mentioned Chuck Pahlaniuk yet. He's pretty dark and likes breaking taboos but if you can handle that he's darn funny. Survivor is a good one.

I'll also second Douglas Coupland.

Also, am I alone in thinking that classifying C.S. Lewis as a comedic writer might be a bit of a stretch? I'm sure I've laughed a little in some of his books but nowhere near as much as in any of the other books mentioned (that I've read).

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Whoever said P.G. Wodehouse said it right. That guy wrote funny stuff. Reminds me a little of one of his predecessors, Oscar Wilde. I always associate Jeeves with The Importance of Being Earnest. One or two English gentlemen getting themselves into quandries with their Aunts, and getting themselves back out again, often unscathed, and in delightfully humorous fashion.

Also, am I alone in thinking that classifying C.S. Lewis as a comedic writer might be a bit of a stretch? I'm sure I've laughed a little in some of his books but nowhere near as much as in any of the other books mentioned (that I've read).

I'll definitely agree that one of the two books mentioned, That Hideous Strength, might not be humorous, even if it is satirical. I just read it for the second time, and the tone is anything but funny. But then again, maybe I was just in a brooding mood.

However, Mark had it right when he mentioned The Screwtape Letters. There were more than a few chuckles in that book, and even a few laugh out loud moments. Screwtape proposes a toast is also greatly funny.

Edited by Joel C

Listen to my tunes by visiting my website, or come say hello on Facebook and Twitter

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Lemony Snicket: For a non-real author, he's got a great (wicked dark silly) sense of humor. Read his almost-complete Series of Unfortunate Events and its supplemental volume, The Pony Par...er, The Unofficial Autobiography.

Flann O'Brien: By halfway through The Third Policeman, the surreal magic of the book's setting and characters broke the fine "weird:funny" line in favor of the "funny". I never got past that point (library book, out-of-state move), but I'm starting At Swim-Two-Birds, his first.

Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures and Through the Looking-Glass are my two favorite novels ever. Ever. But they're funny, too, in a dangerous way, which helps.

Oh, and I second (third, whatever) Wodehouse, Twain, Wilde, Adams.

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Lemony Snicket: For a non-real author, he's got a great (wicked dark silly) sense of humor. Read his almost-complete Series of Unfortunate Events and its supplemental volume, The Pony Par...er, The Unofficial Autobiography...

Lemony Snicket! I love lemony Snicket! That guy is funny. I read his books just to laugh out loud. Clever little books.

Listen to my tunes by visiting my website, or come say hello on Facebook and Twitter

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  • 4 years later...

<i>Raney</i> by Clyde Edgerton is a comedy of opposites attracting--southern Baptist girl and Episcopalian boy fall in love. The only thing they have in common is their love of bluegrass music. Can this relationship survive? Very, very funny without being cruel.

Also by Edgerton: <i>Walking Across Egypt</i> and its sequel, <i>Killer Diller</i> (which satirizes Christian higher education)

There's a brief interview with Edgerton in the Sept. 21 The Christian Century. It inspired me to put a hold on The Bible Salesman at the library. CC cites a critic who called him the 'lovechild of Dave Barry and Flannery O'Conner".

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart is both funny and sad and full of quirky Tower of London history. :)

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin is the funniest book I've read.

I started this on Monday and am loving it. Helprin is a master word-spinner; I knew I was in good hands when I read these three sentences: "Horses had never been bred better. Bread had never been buttered better. Batter had never been better beaten."

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Slightly off topic, although I believe Christopher Buckley's satirical novels were recommended earlier in this thread. But Buckley just gave a little lecture on how to come up with good book titles,

Satirist Christopher Buckley used humor and political wit to deliver a speech to students last night about coming up with a good book title in a competitive market. “Anyone care to guess how many different books are published in this country each year?” Buckley asked. “Four-hundred thousand, and half of them by John Grisham. The remaining are novels about teen vampires. ”

Buckley, whose book “Thank You for Smoking” was adapted into a major motion picture, went through a list of possible book titles and the stories behind them during the 45-minute speech in the Student Life Center Ballroom. One suggested title, “Want to Buy a Dead Dictator?”, was based on a hoax story that Buckley had written in Forbes magazine about the cash-strapped Russians auctioning off Vladimir Lenin’s corpse for $15 million ...

If you haven't read him before, Thank You for Smoking is just one. Florence of Arabia, Boomsday, Supreme Courtship, and Little Green Men among others, all make for pretty hilarious reading.

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