Sunday, March 29, 2020

Twenty-eight Irish writers' favorite funny books

An author and arts journalist, Declan Burke has previously published crime novels, including Slaughter’s Hound and the award-winning Absolute Zero Cool.

His latest book, The Lammisters, is a comic novel. Although set in Prohibition-era Hollywood, it is influenced by Irish comic novelists such as Laurence Sterne and Flann O’Brien.

Burke's favorite funny novel, as shared with The Irish Times:
“There was nothing more the world stood so much in need of as knights-errant,” claims the ludicrously deluded Don Quixote as he girds his loins to set out on his quest, the better to prove himself worthy of the favours of the local farmgirl that his febrile imagination has anointed the imperishable Dulcinea del Toboso. Donning a rusty suit of armour, and mounting his faithful mount Rocinante, the Knight of the Doleful Countenance rides out into immortality, aided and abetted by the wily menial Sancho Panza.

Quixote is infamous for tilting at windmills, of course, believing them to be giants, and novel is laugh-out-loud funny as the deluded Don’s adventures are recounted in a deadpan tone that cruelly parodies the excesses of the epic mediaeval romances. And yet, as Quixote and Sancho trek across Spain battling a variety of imaginary villains, the Don cuts an ever-more poignant figure, and his fantasy -–that he alone can save the world from itself – something to be cherished and celebrated.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes is the great comic novel, the fons et origo of every kind of literary humour - slapstick and farce, parody, social satire and surrealism - since it was first published in 1605. Do your funny bone a favour and embark on the greatest of all quests with the self-styled “never-deservedly-enough-extolled knight-errant, Don Quixote de la Mancha.”
Read about another Irish writer's favorite funny novels.

Don Quixote was the second most popular book among prisoners at the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay. It is on Jeff Tweedy's list of six favorite books, Ben Okri's six best books list, Bruce Wagner's six favorite books list, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten list of fictional best friends we'd like to have as nonfictional best friends, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best literary women dressed as men and ten of the best books written in prison.

Paul Auster always returns to Don Quixote; Claire Messud hasn't read it.

--Marshal Zeringue