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Books to combat family dysfunction (and other holiday nightmares)

During the over-stressed days before Christmas, and in the dark space of disappointment after Christmas ends but before the new year begins, when time slows to a numbed crawl and friends remind you it’s the peak of suicide season, that’s the perfect time for books that can make you laugh. No, not the LOL gags from social media, but actual gut-churning, bladder-freeing, bowel-loosening humor that only great comic authors can provide. Are you sick of dodgy uncles, drunken aunts, conniving in-laws, and strange children hanging about? Not to mention drooling pets with no regard for the sanctity of the human crotch! These are a few of my literary choices to get over this holiday hump, and I’m curious to hear yours.

Before TC Boyle became a serious author, he wrote the funniest novels and short stories of the Eighties. “Budding Prospects”, about three men who attempt to cultivate marijuana in Northern California, is a wild adventure with lovable characters and a constant stream of humor.

William Kotzwinkle’s “The Fan Man” is legendary. It chronicles the dizzy journey of Greenwich Village hippie Horse Badorties as he navigates through his aimless existence from one crash pad to another.

“The Love Lizard of Melancholy Cove” by Christopher Moore could cure even Robert Johnson’s case of blues. Mix Kurt Vonnegut Jr. with Tom Robbins, stir, and enjoy.

“A Confederacy of Dunces” is John Kennedy Toole’s posthumous classic. If the absurd adventures of corpulent, self-proclaimed genius Ignatius J. Reilly can’t bring a smile to your face, I’m not sure what can.

Can’t commit to a full novel? Try a few pages of “Swiss Family Perelman” by SJ Perelman. They didn’t let just anyone sit at the Algonquin Hotel’s famed “round table”. Only the sharpest wits need apply. Perelman proved himself worthy over and over.

If politics is your bag, then go no further than Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail”. Take a roller-coaster ride over Thompson’s outrageous descriptions, hyperbole, and stream-of-consciousness rants against everything evil in America during 1972. You’ll laugh outwardly as you weep inside. Washington insiders called his work: “The least factual, but by far the funniest, most truthful examination and indictment of an historic election year written by anyone, ever.”

Now I’m eager to hear your choices. Maybe something more recent?






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