Thursday, March 01, 2012

Top 10 comic tragedies

Shalom Auslander was raised as an Orthodox Jew in Spring Valley, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has published stories and articles in Esquire, The New Yorker, and the New York Times Magazine, as well as on and He is a regular contributor to PRI’s “This American Life.” His first book, the short story collection Beware of God, was published to critical acclaim in 2005. Auslander's new novel is Hope: A Tragedy.

One of his top ten comic tragedies, as told to the Guardian:
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

If you don't already know this one, you should be reading a Murdoch-owned paper and screaming about socialism (which you also likely don't know anything about). Too long by half, perhaps, this book made it almost impossible to go to war without feeling just the tiniest bit silly. Unless you read Murdoch-owned papers. AWOL as a happy ending. Hilarious. Joseph's Something Happened is even darker, but I figured I'd start you off in the shallow end of the murky Heller pool. But read that one, too.
Read about another book on the list.

Catch-22 is among Jim Lehrer's 6 favorite 20th century novels, Charles Glass's five books on Americans abroad, Avi Steinberg's six books every prison should stock, Patrick Hennessey's six books to take to war, Jasper Fforde's five most important books, Thomas E. Ricks' top ten books about U.S. military history, and Antony Beevor's five best works of fiction about World War II. While it disappointed Nick Hornby upon rereading, it made Cracked magazine's "Wit Lit 101: Five Classic Novels That Bring the Funny." Joseph Heller is one of five authors who inspired William Boyd.

--Marshal Zeringue