Literary laughs provide a much-needed escape
Readers know that books offer an escape, and folks, let’s be honest right now, many of us are just looking to escape our homes. The coronavirus has inspired a considerable amount of fear in our society. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the disease is scary, the news we see from Italy is horrific and we know that the number of sick people here will creep up before the pandemic is resolved. However, I am a humble book nerd and I’m not here to throw more statistics at you about the coronavirus. I’m here to offer a bit of a distraction and maybe a laugh.
I’ve noticed the coronavirus has also inspired some new trends for today’s society; social distancing, toilet paper hoarding and a newfound (and well-deserved) respect for grocery store and delivery personnel. As I write this I have been working from home for more than two weeks and while I luckily have a small four-legged companion who does the silliest things to keep me laughing, I am in need of a literary vacation.
While perusing my bookshelves in search of a laugh, I realized some of you lovely folks might also be in need of some literary comedic relief. Here are a few reads to bring you some sunshine while we’re all stuck at home.
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
Typically, a book about zombies wouldn’t grab my attention. However “Hollow Kingdom” is not your typical zombie novel, given that it’s narrated by a saucy and witty crow by the name of S*&% Turd. Now that Big Jim’s brains seem to have left the building, S.T. finds himself trying to track down a cure for the zombie apocalypse with his trusty hound, Dennis, in tow.
Honestly, do yourself a favor and read this beautifully insightful and hilarious zombie adventure. Kira Jane Buxton is a literary genius (with the greatest author photo ever) and I don’t know what the world did to deserve this compellingly odd book but there’s truly something for everyone to love. There’s humor, explorations of humanity, dogs, zoology fun facts and spectacular asides about life as a crow. “Hollow Kingdom” is a glowing beam of wonder that will flood you with a menagerie of emotions and plenty of laughter. Given that “Hollow Kingdom” is Buxton’s first book, I hope she uses this time to work on her next novel, which I imagine will be just as amusing this one.
“Hollow Kingdom” is the perfect book to read while we’re all in isolation because even though it’s about a zombie apocalypse, it radiates with hope and resilience and the hilariously foul-mouthed thoughts of a crow. What more could we need right now?
Dear Girls by Ali Wong
Ali Wong is a comedian known for her pregnant comedy specials “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife” as well as her romantic comedy “Always Be My Maybe.” In other words, if you have a Netflix account, you’ve probably heard of her ... and her adult-friendly comedy.
Her book, “Dear Girls” is a collection of letters to her young daughters about the comedian’s childhood, career, marriage and tips on how to spot a quality restaurant. Wong’s letters to her daughters are insightful and hilarious as she provides them with genuinely good advice about finding a community and stories about their grandparents while also cracking her on brand raunchy jokes and detailing some of her sexcapades. Her letters discuss identity, sexism, culture, family history and more in a moving and silly manner that readers from all walks of life can enjoy.
Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
In his debut book, a collection of short stories, the creator of Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman,” Raphael Bob-Waksberg spins a series of darkly amusing tales that pull at humanity’s loose thread. The stories themselves follow a range of odd narratives; a couple tries to determine how many goats to sacrifice at their wedding ceremony, a scientist studies different universes, people who let silence speak for them and a dude who works as a president at an amusement park.
“Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory” explores love in a romantic, familial and platonic manner that examines the humiliating and mundane aspects of relationships. The writing shines a light to every gritty part of loving someone and magnifies the weird and tender moments that are often overlooked when talking about love. All too often, like magpies, we focus on the bright and shiny elements of relationships and fail to appreciate the bland minutes that lead up to the lauded occasions.
Bob-Waksberg’s stories effortlessly maneuver between his biting wit and a profound reflection on the highs and lows in a relationship with humor.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Linda Holmes writes with a delightful and witty sense of humor as she brings two broken people — Evvie the widow, and Dean the headcase — together to create a literary romantic comedy without the sticky Hollywood polish or the over-the-top Hallmark gloss.
Since her husband’s death Evvie rarely leaves her home, as her job allows her to work from the comforts of her too-big house (something our quarantining society can relate to all too well). Dean is a famous failure after his pitching arm’s sudden inability to throw leaves him the laughingstock of the sports world. When Dean escapes his troubles in New York, he moves into the apartment above Evvie’s garage and from there these two broken people form a charming friendship, leaving readers enthralled by the picnic basket of emotions their relationship puts bookworms through.
“Evvie Drake Starts Over” is a perfect distraction for social distancing as it’s a quippy love story about authentic people trying to dig out of their struggles while talking about baseball.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
In her latest novel, Elizabeth Gilbert thrusts readers into the world of 1940s theater. As an older woman Vivian Morris reflects on her life in a letter, allowing her fashion-obsessed existence as a costume director at her aunt’s decadently crumbling theater to be unfurled with a rollicking commentary that adds a charming sparkle to the narrative. Readers will become so entranced by Vivian’s story they’ll completely forget why the narrator was writing it in the first place and tumble into her charming backstage stories. “City of Girls” is a crackling coming-of-age story rife with captivating characters, humor and an honest glimpse into womanhood and chosen families. As a young woman Vivian hurls herself headfirst into the glittering world of her showgirl friends, unabashedly seeking trouble at every turn until she collides with a ruinous scandal.
Vivian’s brutally honest depiction of her life and her snappy asides will endear her to readers as she shares stories about the family she has stitched together, in a version of New York that has been lost to time.