The power of humor

Hi, folks.

I bring this up because I love humor. Especially the genuinely funny kind, that pokes fun not only at the world, but also at oneself. If you have the ability to laugh at yourself, you have the ability to change the world.

I say this because there’s a hilarious movement afoot over at Twitter. A rather mean-spirited personage over there was tweeting horrible and generally false things about a group of people. Which happens all the time, as you know. People say and do crazy crap on the interwebs on a daily basis, and get away with it all the time. But for whatever reasons, this time, somebody decided that the best way to deal with the mean-spiritedness was humor. Whoever that was got a whole bunch of other people to do the same. And they told a few people, and they told more people, and then before you know it, the mean-spirited hashtag became an absolutely hilarious celebration of the power of humor to derail nastiness.

Want to know more about it? Check here, here, and here.

So I thought I’d send you to some authors who have a similar kind of ribald, delicious, wonderful way of looking at the world. Because humor is generally subjective, and it can be a powerful tool in the right hands.

In no particular order, read Florida-based Carl Hiaasen. Start with his 1984 Tourist Season and go from there. His characters and dialogue will have you in stitches, and his sly grilling of the world in which we live only adds a delightful twist of the humor knife. Along those lines, Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series always has me laughing out loud at the antics of Jersey girl-turned-bounty-hunter Plum.

And for those of you who enjoy LGBT books, with strong and colorful LGBT characters, please do yourselves a favor and read Joan Opyr’s books. Idaho Code and From Hell to Breakfast are jaunts along the lines of the 1930s Thin Man series, with Nick and Nora Charles. Slapstick comedy, witty banter, mysteries, and very human musings from Opyr’s characters make this pair of books a must-read. And for another Opyr book, which contains elements of her amazing humor but in a completely different vein, catch her Shaken and Stirred.

And please do yourselves a favor and read Mari SanGiovanni. Greetings from Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer. I’ll sum it up thus: Large Italian family. Trip to Jamaica. Hijinks ensue. Need I say more? And the sequel’s out. Camptown Ladies, which I’ll sum up thus: Large Italian family. Sister buys a campground, hires sister as cook. Brother’s girlfriend is contractor who works on the camp. Hijinks completely ensue.

Laugh often. We could all use a bit more of that, yes?

Happy reading, happy writing, happy!

Cool “writers on writing” archive

Hi, folks–

I took Monday off. Kind of a Manic Monday, don’tcha know.

Anyhoo, I came across this really sweet New York Times archive. It’s called “Writers on Writing” and it’s a big ol’ list of articles done by various writers that addresses some aspect of writing. Super cool.

How about E.L. Doctorow on how novels are following films into a land of “fewer words”?

As more than one critic has noted, today’s novelists tend not to write exposition as fully as novelists of the 19th century… .The 20th-century novel minimizes discourse that dwells on settings, characters’ CVs and the like. The writer finds it preferable to incorporate all necessary information in the action, to carry it along in the current of the narrative, as is done in movies.
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Or Annie Proulx (whose work I deeply admire), on inspiration?

A whole set of metaphoric shovels is part of my tool collection, and for me the research that underlies the writing is the best part of the scribbling game. Years ago, alder scratched, tired, hungry, and on a late return from a fishing trip, I was driving through Maine when a hubbub on the sidewalk caught my eye: milling customers at a yard sale. I stop for yard sales. Pay dirt. I found the wonderful second edition unabridged Webster’s New International Dictionary with its rich definitions and hundreds of fine small illustrations.
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Or Alice Walker on meditation, John Updike on character, or Carl Hiaasen on plagiarizing from real life?

This archive is a treasure trove of gems from a variety of writers, from a variety of perspectives. Seriously check it out.

Happy reading, happy writing!