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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Joke's on...

The earliest joke was supposedly a 1900 BCE Sumarian one liner, something like: "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial - a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap." Jokes pepper contemporary literature, Amy Hempel frequently seems to have skimmed the internet for the latest to stick in a short story -- each time I read one I imagine Gordon Lish screaming.

The latest incantation of joke-lit is The Book of Jokes by Nick Currie, aka Momus, aka What-ever -- some self described Brit songwriter who is trying awfully, awfully hard to be the new Brit bad boy. Take offensive, dirty jokes and create a narrative from them. The idea is brilliant. No wonder Dalkey published it. Note I said the "idea." The writing is shoddy. Why did Dalkey publish it? Here's a joke by Dorothy Parker...this is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown with great force. Yukity Yuk Yuk. I guess rude boys retain a good deal of currency in Britain (thinking of Self, Welsh, and that other curly haired singer? Actor? Comedian? Russell Brand who was all over the papers last time I visited.) Enjoy the concept, skip the book -- it lacks both punch and line. Thank you, you've been a great audience.

Separated at Birth?