Tuesday, September 15, 2020

HUMOR IN CHALLENGING TIMES

by Karna Small Bodman 


A fellow member of the Author’s Guild suggested we create a thread of “Author Humor” to break up the monotony of always dealing with serious subjects of late. It is certainly true that authors are serious about doing excellent research, describing accurate locations, creating compelling characters and deciding how it all fits into a particular genre.  In the midst of these challenging times, the question is: can authors also have a sense of humor? The New Yorker magazine is famous for its cartoons and has included many that fit right into this scenario.

Authors are also serious about portraying emotions, and yet deciding how to “show, not tell” what a character is thinking, feeling, and reacting to a particular situation is the key to penning different types of novels from psychological thrillers to romantic comedies. How to incorporate emotions was also suggested in another great cartoon from that magazine.



Yes, taking the time to laugh at ourselves is always a good way to break up the serious writing tasks at hand, and when that Guild member asked authors to submit some bits of humor, here are a few contributions they made to that online thread:

“Why don’t ants get sick? Because they have little anty-bodies.”

“I own the chewed pencil that Shakespeare used to write his famous works. He used to chew on it so much that I can’t tell whether it’s 2B or not 2B.” 

“A prisoner goes to the jail’s library to borrow a book.  The librarian says, ‘We don’t have this book, but we have its author’.”

“Definition of a writer: one who slaves in complete solitude…for the sake of communication.”

“A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget’s Thesaurus crashed yesterday losing its entire load. Witnesses said they were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, dazed, surprised, dumbfounded, perplexed, and speechless.”

If you would like to check some of the books that include a great deal of humor, let me tell you about a few of new novels written by New York Times bestselling authors.


The first is by a friend and neighbor, Janet Evanovich who began her writing career penning romance novels for, as she describes in her bio she was initially paid a whopping $2,000. After several years, she got a great idea to create a story about Stephanie Plum, a girl from New Jersey who is unemployed, desperate, and finally takes a job as a bounty hunter in Cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds office. The first in the series, One for the Money, was made into a feature film starring Katherine Heigl. The latest in her world-wide bestselling series is #27, Fortune and Glory which is available for pre-order and described as “The adventure of a lifetime.” 

Another author who uses humor in his terrific New York Times bestselling novels is Fredrik Backman, the author of A Man Called Ove. His new novel, Anxious People was released just last week. It is about: 
A “crime that never took place,” and is described by Publishers Weekly as “A witty, light-hearted romp” The Amazon Reviewer writes, "Backman is a funny, charming storyteller . . . there are twists and surprises, and beneath it all, there is  deep sense of warmth and empathy." (Things we could all use right about now -- right?)

One last talented writer who is truly a master-of-humor is Christopher Buckley. Often dubbed “America’s greatest living political satirist,” his books have been translated into 16 languages, and he has lectured in 70 cities around the world -- which means he has brought his special brand of hilarity to
millions of readers in far-flung countries. Buckley’s latest contribution to today’s somewhat “crazy scene” is Make Russia Great Again.                                                                
                           
Yes, these are indeed challenging times for all of us – authors, readers, families, friends. And yet, in the midst of this “serious atmosphere” perhaps you’ll agree that at times humor can be the best medicine.

Do you have a funny line or humous book you’d like to share with all of us? Please leave it in a comment here. Meanwhile, stay safe and thanks for joining us here on Rogue Women Writers. 

6 comments:

  1. Great comments! I'm re-reading an early Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout). Archie is often good for a laugh.

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  2. Oh, yes, Karna, so glad you reminded us how important it is to laugh! I love the humor, too, and think Janet Evanovich and Chris Buckley are marvelously funny. O, and those New Yorker cartoons ... delicious! Thanks for a wonderful blog!

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  3. I just read “Gatecrasher” as part of research for characters among the rich and famous, and the author describes Elaine (as in the owner of the NYC restaurant) as “having smoked so many cigarettes her voice could be written in Braille.”

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  4. Love those comments and other suggestions about humorous reads! Thanks....Karna Small Bodman

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  5. Nearly any Carl Hiaasen book is good for a laugh. Bill Fitzhugh. Elaine Viets. Parnell Hall. The list can get massive, as most writers I know infuse some humor into their books. Great blog, Karna. Thanks.

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  6. I wish I could write humor, but I turn to that from others! Thanks for the recs. And the prison library joke.

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