Monday, April 09, 2007

Cracked's classic funny novels

Friend of the Blog "Cochise" alerted me to Cracked magazine's "Wit Lit 101: Five Classic Novels That Bring the Funny."

One title on the list:
Joseph Heller's Catch-22

A grisly war novel that somehow still comes off as gleefully absurd as anything in The Naked Gun, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 mingles the too-real horrors of war with absurdist, laugh-out-loud punch lines.

Through the character Captain John Yossarian, a bombardier who’s decided “to live forever or die in the attempt,” Heller picks apart commonly held beliefs about psychology, economics and religion. On the topic of patriotic heroism, Yossarian reasons, “There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth dying for.” This is also the book that spawned the term “Catch-22” — a mind-bending “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” logical paradox that quickly entered the pop culture lexicon after the book’s debut.

While the writing is literary and intellectually ambitious, the effect of the novel is, oddly enough, not unlike one of Jerry Seinfeld’s better stand-up routines, forcing readers to encounter concepts they’d always taken for granted — like they’re seeing them for the first time. The only difference: instead of revealing the underlying absurdity of airplane peanuts and expiration dates, Heller is debunking things like patriotism.

Read about the chart-topper on Cracked's list.

Last year I did a little write-up of comic novels for Spot-on.

--Marshal Zeringue