To Kill a Mickingbird by Harper Lee (Book Review)

16/02/2012 § 2 Comments

Scout narrates as her and her brother are wrenched from a childhood spent fascinated by their mysteriously clandestine neighbour and engulfed by the baffling and infuriating world of adulthood. Scout observes with enchanting naivety as her stalwart father, Atticus, mounts a case for the defence against a black man accused of raping a white girl in 1930s America’s Deep South. Full to the brim with intricately drawn, likeable characters this novel is abundant with charm and humour that enhances its profound subject matter. Scout is a timelessly relatable tomboy and Atticus is perfectly characterised as endearingly magnanimous and infinitely lovable.

Malice in Blunderland by Jonny Gibbings (Book Review)

15/12/2011 § 3 Comments

After being surreptitiously dumped Gibbings’ protagonist life goes on an asphyxiated downward spiral, with cataclysmic results. Being blackmailed by the mafia and wanted for sex crimes isn’t even the worst of it. No, a week in the life of this loser would have James Frey running for cover. Malice in Blunderland, like many of life’s pleasures, should come with a health warning. Crossing the proverbial ‘line’ more than once, it will have you stifling laughter before guiltily glancing around to make sure no-one is reading over your shoulder. Wonderfully sardonic and intelligent writing with which Guy Ritchie would have a field day.

Pets in a Pickle by Malcolm Welshman (Book Review)

22/09/2011 § 1 Comment

Join Paul Mitchell, a newly qualified vet, as he embarks upon his first job at Prospect House Veterinary Hospital. Along the way you will meet a multitude of hilarious and bizarre characters with afflictions including baldness, bites and obesity. And that’s not just the animals. Pets in a Pickle is a light-hearted romp that will certainly appeal to animal lovers and provide some genuine laugh out loud moments. Welshman has Paul’s veterinary experiences play out as pun-tastic thematic comedy sketches. The wordplay may be a little cringey at times, but that’s all part of the light hearted and frivolous fun.

The Snow Whale by John Minichillo (Book review)

08/08/2011 § Leave a comment

This retelling of Moby Dick sees a contemporary John Jacobs turn his mediocre life inside out after learning (via a dubious DNA test) that he is of predominantly Inuit descent. The brave move to describe a modern American white man leaving an almost-happily married life in suburbia to hunt whales is, of course, utterly absurd. Sadly the novel isn’t quite funny enough to pull of its ludicrousness and Minichillo, like Melville before him, too late submerges the reader in engaging adventure. A quirky and readable homage for those familiar with its predecessor, The Snow Whale is otherwise unjustifiably ridiculous.

The Donor by Helen Fitzgerald (Book Review)

30/07/2011 § 4 Comments

Will is a loser; his writing career was a non-starter and his wife left him. But this story isn’t about these things; it’s about the advancing kidney disease of both of the twin daughters his wife left him with, and Will’s efforts to save them. Fitzgerald creates a small unit of exquisitely flawed characters who, despite their disparities, are impossible to not empathise with. At times outright hilarious, this book entertains and enthrals the reader whilst focusing intensely on the disquietingly identifiable people within it. You will certainly end up rooting, along with Will, for a seemingly impossible happy ending.

My Friend Leonard by James Frey (Book Review)

25/07/2011 § Leave a comment

The follow up to Frey’s first successful and controversial quasi-memoir sees him dealing with life and death after rehab, guided by his gangster guardian and friend, Leonard.  Those who have read the first instalment will already know the fates of the characters who endure to the second. However, this does not detract from the poetically written, heart wrenching narrative. Less deconstructed language and reduced involvement in addiction sets this story free to centre upon James’ relationship with his outlandish and lovable friend. Tragedy and satire are combined brilliantly in a story that is to biographies what Picasso is to portraits.

Sweeney Todd, or The String of Pearls by James Malcolm Rymer/Thomas Peckett Prest Review

20/06/2011 § Leave a comment

The earliest version of this famous story bears witness to the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Thornhill, the details of which only his faithful dog seems privy to. The mutt proceeds to obstinately skulks around a certain barber shop on Fleet street, which lies in close proximity to the famous Lovett’s Pie shop. Its mysterious persistence leads interested parties to unravel a unique story of murder, treasure and love. Sweeney Todd is darkly humorous, with a quintessentially British eccentricity and matter-of-fact divulgence of gloriously gruesome discoveries. The deliciously bizarre plot and wit as sharp as Sweeney’s barber blades make the original version an undervalued gem.

Eleven by Mark Watson Review

07/06/2011 § Leave a comment

*As featured in Stylist Magazine*

Xavier is a radio DJ who triggers a chain of consequences that reach out across the city as invisibly yet decisively as the radio waves he broadcasts. As events build momentum Watson settles into a narrative that is at once droll and devastating, littered with insightful analogies. Having been aligned with David Nicholls’ One Day, Eleven had a lot to live up to. But it’s true that those who enjoyed the former should engage with the latter. Despite providing less suppress-a-giggle-on-the-tube comedy, Watson finds his strength within a multitude of relatable characters and thought provoking circumstances.

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi Review

07/06/2011 § Leave a comment

*As featured in Stylist Magazine*

Mr Fox is cheating on his wife, with his imaginary friend. Mr Fox is also a serial killer; his heroines never make it out of a story alive. Oyeyemi punctuates the narrative with her protagonist’s own gruesome fairy tales to great effect; blurring the line between what you suppose is fact and hope to be fiction. Don’t be fooled by the inadequate blurb and misleading cover art, Oyeyemi has a sharp wit and isn’t afraid to use it. Mr Fox is a black comedy that draws you into a hilariously horrifying world, where your imagination can literally run away with you.

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain Review

07/06/2011 § Leave a comment

*As featured in Stylist Magazine*

Following on from the highly successful and controversial biography Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw peppers choice episodes from Bourdain’s past with observational analysis of the food world in the present. Characteristically pessimistic advice for wannabe chefs is sandwiched between accounts of illegal secret banquets and boozing with the Gadaffis on a Caribbean Yacht. The writing style is hysterical: sardonic musings on a food industry in financial crisis are related in the style of an x-rated Eeyore. Those anticipating a diluted sequel, fear not. Humour drier than a Sauvignon Blanc is blended with derisive insightfulness to give this biography a real bite.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Comedy category at booksbeccabuys.