Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Funny, Isn’t It?

Just an interlude musing...

Whilst waiting for you all to post on Memoirs (I read it a while ago and am keen to see what you all thought) I read The Shipping News by E.Annie Proulx as a number of you had said how good it was. I did enjoy it as it evoked a wonderful sense of place (had no idea where Newfoundland was, let alone what it was like) and some very real characters. Proulx’s very staccato writing style was very interesting and took me a while to get used to but proved very effective in the end. She also used capitalisation in a much less irritating way than Rosoff.

However, the book was not what I was expecting as the reviews on the back talked about it being ‘funny’ and ‘comic’ and, although there were parts I found quirky and amusing, I certainly did not find it laugh-out-loud funny. All of which got me thinking about humour in books. I have yet to find a novel which has really made me laugh. Books that people have recommended to me as funny I have not ‘got’ and often find the characters or plotline tragic or banal instead! I suppose that having an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter enables one to be better able to laugh at it (which is why I probably struggled with Scoop, Evelyn Waugh, but chuckled at Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope). I also wondered whether it was because my favourite vehicle for humour is irony and that is often difficult to communicate using the written word as so much is dependent on tone of voice and facial expression (although I think Jane Austen manages to do it pretty well with Mr Bennett in P & P).

Is it only me who has this difficulty? What books have made others laugh out loud? Perhaps, Emily, if we're going 'bleak' in March perhaps we ought to explore 'comic' in April?