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Old 10-22-2016, 08:14 AM   #16
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Working a lot of overtime the past couple of weeks so I didn't get a chance to re-read this. But I remember enjoying it when we read it in high school and when I re-read it in the 90s.
I remember it being funny though in a different way than some of the more jokey authors who are funny for the sake of being funny.

Also there's the movie version with Robert Morse, Rod Steiger, Jonathan Winters and Liberace and I'm sure my memories of the book and movie are somewhat mixed together.
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Old 10-22-2016, 08:59 AM   #17
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I would like to know just what bits you found funny. I didn't find any of it funny. It read as a strained attempt to be funny that fell flat. The fact that some of the characters are British didn't help. It's got none of the British humor that makes some British comedy funny. I didn't see what was funny about the pet cemetery. All I took from it was that pet cemeteries are the low end of the death business.
I'll respond briefly with a gross generalization that there are two kinds of British comedy, the over-the-top slapsticky stuff that I don't find funny at all and the dry understated stuff which is my favorite form of humor.

So I'm agreeing with the consensus that humor is difficult and personal. I also think this appeals to me because my favorite literary period is Britain between the wars, which was Waugh's apotheosis. I have no objection to mocking American excess and what gives this additional savour is that it's tinged with bitterness, both from the British perspective of a nation that's ceded the top position to its crasser cousin and from Waugh's as an artist who was on the downslope. He was a bitter man who didn't adjust well to the post-war world.
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Old 10-22-2016, 09:09 AM   #18
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Other than issybird, does anyone find this funny with real laughs?
Yes, me. Sort of. I found occasional good joke laughs, but for the most part as dwig observed a low chuckle satire of what Waugh observed when in LA at the time. Then I seldom find books to be laugh out loud funny. Trying to think of one all that comes to my mind immediately would be A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. If you are familiar with that book I'll eagerly await your proof of it's lack of humor.

You did not find this at all funny. We've got it. What I read of Midnight Riot I did not even understand why it was in this category. Moving on.



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I'm afraid Jon speaks for me on this one. After the first couple of chapters the book at least became more coherent, but not in the least more humorous. I couldn't even understand why the advice columnist team were even in the book.
Because the humor was about death and the way it was treated in that location and time? People had to die right and left to do that. Also mocking the whole idea of such an advice column?
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Old 10-22-2016, 11:07 AM   #19
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I didn't like the way the advice column team was written. The one guy who answered the letters was just crass.
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Old 10-22-2016, 02:00 PM   #20
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You're not meant to like them.
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Old 10-22-2016, 02:28 PM   #21
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OK, I"m about 2/3rds through, and I certainly see why the divergent views. Is it funny? Well, yeah. It is. Not slapstick funny, not Monty Python funny, and not even Jonathan Winters funny (though I can definitely seem him in a film version of this.) But dry, British, rather bitter funny. This is satire, certainly. But I'm enjoying it, and am ultimately glad we're reading it. (Though I still have trouble understanding how anyone can read even just the first chapter of Midnight Riot and not know why I thought it belonged here.)

Context:
Spoiler:
I thought "Dumb and Dumber" was the worst movie of its year, and I only lasted 15 minutes into it, and we'd PAID for it. And while I can watch Monty Python, it's not really my thing. But I can watch re-runs of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster almost endlessly. And it's not Hugh Laurie that I love about it, though he's perfect. It's the dry "Certainly, sir" of Stephen Fry that gets me every time.
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Old 10-22-2016, 11:47 PM   #22
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I appreciate dry British humor and I get it in the book, but I didn't really like this book which was a surprise to me. Perhaps it was the subject matter? I'm not sure. Maybe it would have been better to have listened to the audiobook. I do like the characterization as more "amusing" than laugh-out-loud funny.

However, the main reason I am posting is to say that if you didn't like this book and it's the only Waugh that you have read, then I encourage you to try something else. You might find it funnier. For example, earlier this year I read Scoop which is a satire of journalism and foreign-war correspondents. I thought that book was much more entertaining than this one. So please don't give up on Waugh based on this book alone.

When I read older books, I like to seek out reviews or criticisms near that time period. Here are two that I thought that were particularly interesting.

Evelyn Waugh: The Best and The Worst, October 1954
http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs...54oct/rolo.htm
Quote:
He is, par excellence, an example of the artist who has created a world peculiarly his own. The adjective "Waughsian" is too much of a tongue twister to have passed into our vocabulary, but a substitute phrase has -- "It's pure Evelyn Waugh."

"Pure Evelyn Waugh." The expression evokes a riotously anarchic cosmos, in which only the outrageous can happen, and -- when it does happen is outrageously diverting; in which people reason and behave with awesome inconsequence and lunatic logic.
New York Times Review, June 1948
https://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/...ugh-loved.html
Quote:
“The Loved One” is not only satire at its most ferocious. It is a macabre frolic filled with laughter and ingenious devices. It is devilishly clever, impishly amusing. Although it is short, it could have been shorter to advantage. At times the joke wears thin, the continued attack seems a little too much like beating a demonstrably dead dog. Even Evelyn Waugh, accomplished writer that he is, doesn’t always know when to stop.
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Old 10-23-2016, 01:11 AM   #23
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I do think that listening helped. I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed it as much just reading it.
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Old 10-23-2016, 08:28 AM   #24
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OK, I"m about 2/3rds through, and I certainly see why the divergent views. Is it funny? Well, yeah. It is. Not slapstick funny, not Monty Python funny, and not even Jonathan Winters funny (though I can definitely seem him in a film version of this.) But dry, British, rather bitter funny. This is satire, certainly. But I'm enjoying it, and am ultimately glad we're reading it. (Though I still have trouble understanding how anyone can read even just the first chapter of Midnight Riot and not know why I thought it belonged here.)

Context:
Spoiler:
I thought "Dumb and Dumber" was the worst movie of its year, and I only lasted 15 minutes into it, and we'd PAID for it. And while I can watch Monty Python, it's not really my thing. But I can watch re-runs of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster almost endlessly. And it's not Hugh Laurie that I love about it, though he's perfect. It's the dry "Certainly, sir" of Stephen Fry that gets me every time.
In the interest of not outing your spoiler . . .

Spoiler:
Never even wanted to see Dumb and Dumber. But then more than a few minutes of Jim Carrey has me frantically reaching for the remote control when anything with him in it comes on cable television. I'd never pay going to a theater to see a film with him in it. I've always felt the same about Adam Sandler as well.

Now Monty Python has for me always been a mixed bag. I never found much of their slapstick humor really funny but stuff like this:




or this



how many decades and how many viewings? It still cracks me up

Fawlty Towers as well.

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Old 10-24-2016, 07:27 AM   #25
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I'm afraid Jon speaks for me on this one. After the first couple of chapters the book at least became more coherent, but not in the least more humorous. I couldn't even understand why the advice columnist team were even in the book.
Because the humor was about death and the way it was treated in that location and time? People had to die right and left to do that. Also mocking the whole idea of such an advice column?
It wasn't any of those factors; it just didn't grab me. And, yes, I like dry humor. I would like to see the film sometime to see if perhaps the cinematic version might bring out things I missed in my reading. I certainly found nothing offensive about using the topic of death as the centerpiece for a humorous work, if that's what you're asking; I just didn't find this particular book funny. Maybe were I to read it at a later date in a different frame of mind my opinion would be different, but all I can say now is I didn't find it amusing.
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Old 10-24-2016, 10:42 AM   #26
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I found several levels of humor in this. In addition to the overall satire, there really were laugh out loud moments for me. Joyboy getting an annual card that Aimée is wagging her tail in heaven, the Dreamer and his church without walls, Sambo's little parrot head reposing on a pillow in a tiny casket - I could go on.

And Waugh's prose is continually a joy.
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While he spoke some young people had emerged from the bosky and stood waiting his summons to embark; oblivious Paolos and Francescas emerging from their nether world in an incandescent envelope of love. One girl blew bubbles of gum like a rutting camel but her eyes were wide and soft with remembered pleasure.
One could take paragraphs to discuss everything happening in those two sentences, but it's just plain funny on the face of it, too.
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Old 10-24-2016, 01:19 PM   #27
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It wasn't any of those factors; it just didn't grab me. And, yes, I like dry humor. I would like to see the film sometime to see if perhaps the cinematic version might bring out things I missed in my reading. I certainly found nothing offensive about using the topic of death as the centerpiece for a humorous work, if that's what you're asking; I just didn't find this particular book funny. Maybe were I to read it at a later date in a different frame of mind my opinion would be different, but all I can say now is I didn't find it amusing.
Sure I can understand that. It certainly goes to the point that this category has problems. One person's humor falls flat for another person. I've been around long enough to know that this problem is not new for the humor category, but more like a consistent feature.
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:52 PM   #28
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Sure I can understand that. It certainly goes to the point that this category has problems. One person's humor falls flat for another person. I've been around long enough to know that this problem is not new for the humor category, but more like a consistent feature.
I can understand some people finding a book funnier than others. But it's one thing for some to not find it funny at all and instead finding it a chore to read.
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Old 10-24-2016, 03:27 PM   #29
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I can understand some people finding a book funnier than others. But it's one thing for some to not find it funny at all and instead finding it a chore to read.
But that would apply to your nomination as well, Jon.

In Waugh's defence, I'll add that he's considered one of the great English prose stylists of the 20th century. That doesn't mean you're going to like him, of course, but it means many people do.
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Old 10-24-2016, 03:37 PM   #30
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But that would apply to your nomination as well, Jon.

In Waugh's defence, I'll add that he's considered one of the great English prose stylists of the 20th century. That doesn't mean you're going to like him, of course, but it means many people do.
Maybe it's just this specific book. Maybe he has others that would have been a better read.
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