Tag Archives: drugs

The Funny Man by John Warner

29th August 2011

*I received an e-galley of this book through NetGalley from Soho Press. Publication date is 09/06/11. Preorder from Indiebound here. I wrote this review immediately after reading it about a month ago.

The funny man has always been funny enough. As a kid, he didn’t know the word for someone who makes people laugh, but he asked. Comic. At first the laughs come in small clubs late at night while his wife and baby wait for him at home, his wife exhausted from her waitressing job.

One day, his stay-at-home-dad routine pays off. The kid sticks his hand in his mouth and makes a noise, laughing, and the funny guy repeats the gag, complete with impressions of celebrities, for an agent, and then to bigger audiences for larger amounts of money and then on the film screen for obscene amounts of money, until the funny man is no longer amused by sticking his fist in his own mouth. Yet sticking his fist in his mouth and talking is the only way people pay him. The funny man begins breaking under the pressure, using different arrays of pills to numb his physical and psychological pain, until he loses his wife and child, his adoring fans, and eventually his freedom, after he shoots a man who tries to mug him.

I just – not ten minutes ago – finished this book, and though I usually like to sit with my thoughts after I finish a book, this was the sort that made me realize I had to write off the cuff, getting my initial impressions down immediately. When I saw this book offered on NetGalley, I was expecting a graphic novel. Why? Apparently  because I can be a real dumbass when I judge books only by their covers. What I found was a true American novel – one that has its pulse on our sometimes-ridiculous, oft-ludicrous, more-often-than-not sad culture (am I allowed to use that many hyphens?).

Told from the funny man’s unreliable perspective (dude is on all sorts of drugs), his mind drifts in jail and during his trial to the sets of circumstances leading up to his incarceration, all while planning an escape to be with a young tennis player he watches obsessively on DVR.

In turns funny, brutally honest, and downright depressing, The Funny Man holds a mirror up to celebrity and comes away with a bleak reflection tinged with a dark humor. Though not unkind, Warner also criticizes the masses who so willingly seek out and drive the insanity of the rich and famous. (If you doubt me, turn on the TV or walk past a newsstand and try NOT to learn about Kim Kardashian’s wedding.)

This is the kind of book that will:

-make you stay up all night reading and blinking rapidly in disbelief at the lives of the rich and famous.

-make you wish you were independently wealthy so you can stay home and read.

-make you wonder what’s for dinner.

-make you wonder what’s on TV.

-make you want to smack someone, usually the characters.

 

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

10th August 2011

Have you ever had a book on your radar for years and years before you finally picked it up? Not one you are hesitant to read, but one you just seem to always miss out on? Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is that book for me. I absolutely love the cover on this book and remember spending time in Barnes & Noble as a broke undergrad, reading the first couple chapters of this book. The wonderful Erica from Harper Perennial who also runs the blog The Olive Reader sent me a copy of this book for her Tales of the City Read Along, and I enjoyed every minute of reading it.

Tales of the City is a look at San Francisco in the 70s. Maupin introduces his cast of characters with Mary Ann, the naive, quiet young girl who leaves Cleveland to visit San Fran and decides to stay when she finds an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, where most of the characters live or have lived at some point. Then there’s Michael “Mouse,” a young, closeted gay man, trying to find love in the ever-changing gay club scene. Anna Madrigal is the landlady at 28 Barbary Lane, and she’s fun and a bit odd, leaving joints on the tenants’ doors when they first move in and caring for her pot plants, fondly naming each. Every short chapter is told from a different perspective, and Maupin often leaves a chapter with a surprising revelation. As Tales of the City was originally a newspaper serial, I can tell readers probably stayed hooked.

Even though it deals with death, sexuality, parent-child relationships, and infidelity, Tales of the City is a really fun read. It feels familiar in the telling, and there’s a mystical element to it as well, as 28 Barbary Lane seems to pick its tenants, but I think I’ll have to read on to find out more. In a sense, it’s kind of like really good (but harmless) gossip seeing who is dating whom and who is cheating, loving, drugging, drinking, and all sorts of other scandalous things.

Plus, if you like Tales of the City, there are plenty more books where that came from: More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, etc. Don’t you just love it when that happens?

Read this: like really good chocolate. You won’t want to stop at one piece.