Humour

  1. Douglas Adams. If Terry Pratchett had started writing first, we wouldn't know who Douglas Adams was; but I remember some very good laughs from Life, the Universe, and Everything.
  2. Robert G. Barrett. Australia's answer to Carl Hiaasen, as Hiaasen is Florida's answer to Tom Sharpe. Barrett's home country (the Gold Coast area) is going through the same disasters that Florida went through, and it is the more tragic that now we know where they are headed. As Barrett puts it: ``They got what they wanted, but they lost what they had.'' The Gold Coast is about 20 years behind Florida, though, so there is a faint hope that the environmental destruction can be stopped even yet. Funny how humour is a common reaction to pain. Here's a quote from an Australian on-line book shop .
    There was a time when Robert G. Barrett was "in his forties, out of gaol, out of work, had three books published, but was stone motherless broke". Political correctness had him confused and he had no desire to be more literary, even if he was the author of books that had been described as "the scatological nadir of the pile" and "insidiously revolting...pray God they don't get published overseas".
  3. Lillian Beckwith, for `The Hills is Lonely', et seq. My mother's favourite books.
  4. Ambrose Bierce. The Devil's Dictionary is a classic, and from his other writings it is clear that he was a very, very strong influence on Robert Anson Heinlein. Cruel humour, though.
  5. Earle Birney, for `Turvey'. My father's favourite book.
  6. George MacDonald Fraser (see also History). Flashman is an awful man, but his creator doesn't give him enough credit. My friend Tim Daly (at IBM T. J. Watson Research) called me `The Flashman of Research'---I'm still not sure what he meant by it, but I think he meant it kindly.
  7. Neil Gaiman for his book (with Terry Pratchett) ``Good Omens, the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch''. One of the funniest books ever written.
  8. Sparkle Hayter from Pouce Coupe, British Columbia; her books "What's a Girl Gotta Do" and "Nice Girls Finish Last" rank with the very best---as funny as Carl Hiaasen, I think---the cabbie scene near the end of WaGGD had me in tears---brilliant characterization too though I think a lot of women will be annoyed that she gives so much of the game away to any male reader that happens along...just kidding, I didn't understand any of heroine Robin Hudson's character or motivation at all, uh-uh, nope, no way. The fact that a talent this large comes from Pouce Coupe strikes a serious blow against the natural Northern British Columbia inferiority complex. Well done! Check out her Unofficial Home Page also---one of the good ones.
  9. Carl Hiaasen. Black humour at its blackest---a vicious and funny man. Skink is a new American icon in the making. If you like Hiaasen, you should try Robert G. Barrett (above).
  10. W. P. Kinsella. His Hobbema stories are nearly as effective anti-racist tools as Hillerman's books are, and are screamingly funny besides.
  11. Henry Lawson (1867--1922) for "The Loaded Dog" and other stories. Very reminiscent of Leacock, but more reminiscent of the stories my Dad used to tell me of the early days in Prince George (stories from his father, or about him). Rougher humour than Leacock, really. Excellent. David Jeffrey has shown me (now loaned me) a book of Lawson's poems. Australian outback, unromanticized (much).
  12. Stephen Leacock was my favourite comedian as a child. Now that I am an older child, I find that I enjoy him even more. "Lord Ronald said nothing: he flung himself from the room, flung himself on his horse, and rode madly off in all directions." ( Gertrude the Governess) My favourite is, possibly, "A, B, and C: the human element in mathematics". Some of Leacock's later stories are surprisingly bitter, though, particularly "Three Score and Ten".
  13. Gregory McDonald. Fletch! Son of Fletch! Flynn is my favourite, though. Also maybe Love Among the Mashed Potatoes. Brilliant, conversational writing (Elmore Leonard also has a conversational style; Sumaya doesn't like either of these writers).
  14. P. J. O'Rourke. I have recently rediscovered O'Rourke. I used to read him back when he edited the lamented 'Poon. His book "Age and Guile bet Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut" contains possibly the best review of anything ever---I refer to Boom Squeal Boom Squeal Yip Yip Yip , which he wrote for Automobile . If I'd known he wrote for them, I would have bought a magazine now and then. I also owe him a great recipe, namely Egg Foo Breakfast. It's a guy thing---works great!
  15. Terry Pratchett. (See also Fantasy) He's not cruel (except to the Welsh, which Sumaya hasn't forgiven him for) but is very wise and funny. More discussion of Terry Pratchett .
  16. Tom Sharpe. Wilt is hysterical! Indecent Exposure got Sharpe thrown out of South Africa, and I can see why---wow, it spares no punches. This sort of humour is very close to a sort I can't stand, which makes vicious use of embarassment. But Wilt is never embarassed, being secure in the knowledge of his own innocence...
  17. Neal Stephenson (See also Science Fiction). Zodiac is the story of an eco-terrorist (not). Very funny, and holds the idiosyncracies of the movement up to humourous light much as Barrett does.
  18. Donald E. Westlake. All of his Dortmunder books are wonderful, though we appreciate them more now that we've been to New York.
  19. P. G. Wodehouse. Did I say I had a black sense of humour? Well, except for this man's work, yes. I'd walk fifty miles for a new Lord Emsworth story by the Master.