When I read a bunch of hilarious books in the last quarter of 2018, I decided to share snippets and quirky reviews on them with my readers. Without much ado, below are the reviews:
Book Review: A Pelican at Blandings by PG Wodehouse
PG Wodehouse is primarily known for his Jeeves stories and the tales of his dim-witted master, Bertie Wooster. But I must confess that my personal favourite is his Blandings series, which features an absent minded earl, a thrifty Duke who frequently makes unwelcome visits to the Blandings Castle, a stern and statuesque sister of the earl and two members of aristocracy vying for the title of trouble maker-in-chief in different books of the series.
A Pelican at Blandings is classic Wodehouse novel that introduces us to a host of eccentric characters. The quixotic humour helps in holding the interest of the reader to the lines and pages of what they are reading rather than the headlong rush that one would associate with a mystery or a thriller.
The Pelican in the title refers to non avian pelican, Hon. Galahad Threepwood, brother to Clarence, the Earl of Emsworth. The title is a play on the fact that Galahad was a member of the Pelican Club in his youth. The novel has the usual interplay of characters that you would expect from a Wodehouse book such as bickering lovers, wealthy visitors, con men, imposters, Beach the Butler and of course, the supreme pig of the castle, The Empress of Blandings.
What works for the book:
- The classic Wodehouse-ish descriptions of people, pests and pigs! Read this for a sample:
“Never mind what I call him. If you knew some of the things I’d like to call him you would be astounded at my moderation. Are you telling me that that human walrus has fallen in love at first sight with Vanessa Polk?”
“Alaric is not a human walrus!”
“You criticize my use of the word human?”
“It appears that there is harmless innocent American of the name of Wilbur Trout whose only fault is that he marries rather too often, which is the sort of thing that might happen to anyone.”
- The insane plot line that centers around a stolen painting and manages to weave in Gally who visits the castle of his brother to argue his godson’s suit for the Duke of Dunstable’s niece, the Duke who tries to sell the painting at a huge profit to a wealthy Wilbur Trout as well as cozy up with heiress Vanessa Polk, Emsworth who is locked out when he visits his pig’s sty in the dead of the night and Lady Constance, Emsworth & Gally’s stern-faced sister who often tries to avoid the shenanigans of her brothers.
- The character word portraits that are at a glance seemingly both uncomplicated and rich in vivid descriptions of the doings of the inmates of the castle.
What could have been better:
How can Wodehouse be any better? Unless of course, it’s compared to other Wodehouse writings. While this book doesn’t approach the entertainment quotient of Full Moon in its entirety, it’s still a solid & classic Wodehouse read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon.
- Book Review: Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll
Through the Looking Glass is a sequel to the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by the same author. Like the first book, Through the looking glass is brilliantly plotted, quixotically written and full of humour, riddles & funny rhymes.
What works for the book:
- The book is of course, full of “wonderful nonsense” that Caroll was known for and takes us on a strange journey that is as magical as its improbable.
- The imaginative characters such as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Walrus and the Carpenter were meant solely to amuse, and they do their job admirably.
- The inclusion of “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and the “Jabberwocky” verses in the novel is pure Caroll at his best – both imaginative and entertaining at the same time. The words “Chortle” and “Galumph” were first introduced to the English language in the “Jabberwocky”.
What could have been better:
The constantly changing scenes, strange creatures and the weirdness of the Wonderland universe makes it a very child friendly read. However, the difficult prose and the nonsensical poems may leave pre-teen children bored or make it difficult for them to follow the book.
The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn
The first thing you need to know about this book is that, one of the authors to this book is a fictional character. Barney Stinson was a very popular character in an American sitcom “How I met your Mother”. The character is typecast as a womanizing, fun loving guy who often goes on toots and is hell-bent on giving his friends an awesome time!
The Bro Code was frequently mentioned in the series as the bible of best friends and supposedly provides men with all the rules they need to know in order to become a “bro” and behave properly with other bros.
The book is as eccentric a read as the original series was and can be read as a gag if you are a fan of the TV series.
Watch this short video from the TV series on The Bro Code on some of the highlights:
- Book Review of The Martian:
I know what you are thinking.
Wasn’t The Martian a sci-fi book? Of course it was!
What’s also undeniable is that this book makes you LOL!
The lead character of the book, Mark, is quick witted and makes such funny comebacks in any conversation that he has with almost everyone, during the full length of the novel that you are split between focusing on the hard science and the hearty humour during the whole time you are reading the book. The story is perfectly told, brilliantly imaginative and completely captivating. As hard as it must have been to write a science fiction novel by the author, the hearty dose of humour is what brings out all the punchlines in the book.
Do read the book if you ever wonder what would happen to human beings marooned in Mars and the travails of space travel after hearing Elon Musk talk so much about space colonies in Mars.
- Whose Boat Is This Boat?: Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane
This book was published by the writers of the The Late Show by Stephen Colbert, a political satire show in the US. The draft version of this book was originally aired in the show after the US President Donald Trump’s visit to North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Sep 2018. Trump apparently failed to empathise with the destruction of house property and other losses during his visit and reportedly told a home owner that he at least got a (washed up) boat in his garden though his house had been destroyed.
Trump’s discussion with the home owner and the subsequent parody by Colbert went viral.
Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane is a picture book made entirely of quotations from President Donald Trump in the wake of Hurricane Florence. It is the first children’s book that demonstrates what not to say after a natural disaster. The proceeds from book sales are donated for hurricane relief funds in the US.
I found the idea for the book hilariously funny as an adult read and hence the honourable mention.
Note: This was initially published as a GP on Shalini’s blog.