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!

Fun reading

Hey, folks. If you get a chance, start reading Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series.

Plum’s in Trenton, NJ (so get ready for a slew of Jersey references and jokes). She’s half-Italian, half-eastern European (not sure which country), and she’s one big lovable screw-up who ends up working as a bail bondsman for her cousin, Vinnie. With an uproarious cast of secondary characters like Lula, the prostitute-turned sober file clerk at Vinnie’s to Stephanie’s completely off-the-wall Grandma Mazur whose regular hobby is attending viewings, you will laugh out loud through every single one of these books.

From the second book, Two for the Dough (1996):

“They had a closed casket all right for Moogey Bues,” my grandmother said to my mother. “I got to see him anyway on account of the accident.”
My mother’s eyes opened wide in alarm. “Accident?”
I shrugged out of my jacket. “Grandma caught her sleeve on the lid, and the lid accidentally flew open.”
My mother raised her arms in appalled supplication. “All day I’ve had people calling and telling me about the gladioli. Now tomorrow I’ll have to hear about the lid.”
“He didn’t look so hot,” Grandma Mazur said. “I told Spiro that he did a good job, but it was pretty much a fib.”
Morelli was wearing a blazer over a black knit shirt. He took a seat, and his jacket swung wide, exposing the gun at his hip.”
“Nice piece!” Grandma said. “What is it? Is that a forty-five?”
“It’s a nine-millimeter.”
“Don’t suppose you’d let me see it,” Grandma said. “I’d sure like to get the feel of a gun like that.”
“NO!” everyone shouted in unison.
“I shot a chicken once,” Grandma explained to Morelli.
I could see Morelli searching for a reply. “Where did you shoot it?” he finally asked.
“In the gumpy. Shot it clear off.”
(pp. 63-64)

If you’re a writer of fiction, Evanovich’s characters and characterization often carry a lot of her narratives. Want to get a taste of what great characterization is? Read the Stephanie Plum series.

All rightie, happy reading and happy writing!