Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ray French: top 10 black comedies

Ray French is a novelist and short story writer. He named his top 10 black comedies for the Guardian.

His rationale underlying the selections:
"If you consider how absurd the world often is, laughter is surely the only appropriate response. Really good comedy should be capable of looking the things we fear most straight in the eye, and still making us laugh. My list, which I can't possibly put in any definitive order, includes books that deal with insanity, murder, suicide, and dictatorships. Several also take a long, hard, uncomfortable look at the family - that human laboratory of the emotions where we first learn about love, hate, jealousy and loyalty. Most include moments that simultaneously made me laugh out loud and thank the higher power that I wasn't in the same position as the characters. As Will Rogers said, 'Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else'."
One title from French's list:
The Joke by Milan Kundera

"A difference of taste in jokes" wrote George Eliot, "is a great strain on the affections." It's rather more than that in Kundera's novel. Ludvik sends a postcard containing a joke about Trotsky to a young woman with whom he's infatuated. Not such a good idea in 1950s Czechoslovakia, where a Stalinist regime is in power. Ludvik is expelled from the Communist Party, loses his job at the university and is sent to work in the mines for a decade. He comes out thirsting for revenge, but the regime is beginning to thaw and life has a few more surprises in store for him.
Read about another title to make the list.

--Marshal Zeringue