a pair of tits called authenticity

I’m not good at funny. I have a repertoire of jokes that scrape the sides of barrel abandoned during the gold rush. My jokes can be funny, but mostly I an engaged in a performance of being funny, or at least a performance indicating I am capable of being funny. I must confess this has always worried me, knowing that I was faking it. A fraud among your humours.

And because I’m really no good at being funny I also avoid other bits of funniness. I don’t watch sitcoms, I don’t listen to comedy radio, and I don’t like silly voices. Once upon a time I tried all these, in spades but ultimately realised that I had no talent for them and they embarrassed me, or I was embarrassed for others. So apart from the occasional guilty pleasure from John Clarke and Bryan Dawe I skip the whole idea of being funny.

The whole ironic novel thing (from John Irving to Howard Jacobson) caught my attention for a while but the flaccid surfaces of what was supposed to be funny in those books never endeared me. There are too many novels in which endless deadpan married white guys stare at a pair of tits called authenticity (or youth, or success, or money, or whatever doppelgänger designed to compensate for inadequacy is sought) and they stop being funny somewhere in the 1980s.

Probably then it should be clear that any recommendation from me with regard to humour should be cast aside due to my sheer lack of familiarity. But nevertheless here it is:

Nazi Literature in the Americas is deadset the funniest book I’ve ever read. Not a novel, not a bunch of short stories, not an encyclopedia, not a guidebook: it is just a really smart man imagining all sorts of sad and comforting outcomes for the hopeless cases of international fascism.

There’s a touch of Douglas Adams, a slash of Hemingway, a pouring of Marquez, and something very Jorge Luis Borges. The great casserole of twentieth century destinies are played out and mixed up: it cannot be said that there isn’t enough doom to go around because Bolano finds something touchingly ambivalent about the dreadful lives lived by these fictional fascists. There is a lot to like about Bolano generally, especially The Savage Detectives which has a similar tone of make believe personal apocalypse.

But really Nazi Literature in the Americas makes me wish I was funny.

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About rustichello

A rather too quiet fellow of little reknown.
This entry was posted in books and shit, things belonging to the emperor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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