Sunday, May 9, 2010

That Famous British Sense of Humor

Today's (and the week's) reading was Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards! It was a Terry Pratchett book, which is to say that it was good, but there's not much interesting to say about it specifically - other than that it was the first Watch book, which I hadn't realized, so it explains Vimes and Lady Sybil and also Carrot's beginnings.  Anyway, since I don't really feel like reviewing it as such (I hope you appreciate the delicate tone shade of meaning in as such - not exact, but whence to I paraphrase? :)) I am devoting this post to a more general discussion of why I like Terry Pratchett.

Well I like Terry Pratchett because he's funny - that's fairly simply.  But what's interesting is that when I go through all my funny authors, I find that they are British men - Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, P.G. Wodehouse, Mark Helprin (not entirely British, but he did go to Oxford at least :))... the English part is particuarly interesting, as I have said b/4 I am more than something of an Anglophile, but male? When I go to the library I look at several things before even pulling a book off a shelf and one is definitely the gender of the author - if it's by a man... that's a point against.  Except when it comes to funny books.  I don't know if women don't try to write funny books or if I'm just not interested... I think it's more the former.  Well maybe not... offhand, the only funny female author I can think of that i read is The Spellman Files - those books are funny, but it's an *entirely* different sort of funnyness.  They are funny because Izzy is funny and she gets into funny situations.  Terry Pratchett, PG Wodehouse... they're funny because the writing itself is funny.  I think the same can almost be said about Alexander McCall Smith, in the No. 1 series at least and the 44 Scotland Street.  It's a supremely dry sense of humor  that I think comes along with being British and to me at least, seems peculiarly (and I mean that in the archaic sense :)) male.  And obviously, that's the sense of humor I find funny.

It's not really worth analyzing why that's the case... I think I have that in common with many others, and slapstick just doesn't make it through when it comes to writing (I tend to skim right over anything smacking of an action sequence), it's just interesting to recognize.  And it's the only interest I ever have in male authors at all, so it's a good thing there are so many of them.  I think Van Reid would fall in this category too, though I've only read one of his books, and I don't remember it that well.  I really shouldn't say that's the only interest I have in male books though - I mean I definitely read male classics - though Mark Twain was like the *prototype* for this kind of humor (sorry if I'm overusing ** tonight)- and I did read The Dante Club and that author's other book... and I'm sure there are more... whatever, I seem to be rambling so I guess it's time to stop :) All I know is, I like books like this, and you should all be aware that I'm not a totally single minded reader - sorry if that disappoints :)

on an interesting side note, I once read a Terry Pratchett that had a comment blurb on the back that said "The single funniest English writer" or something like that - and I thought how can they say that? what about PG Wodehouse? then I picked the book up and saw the rest of the quote "... since PG Wodehouse" :) Great minds...

Signing off then... g'night all :)


  1. for the sake of commenting, i'll comment-- yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek... i need to study! but, bec. i know that that is a very unsatisfying and selfish post, i add only this my dear raquille, that is funny about the Terry Pratchett and PG Wodehouse quote. And also, e/o knows that boys are way funnier than girls. they just are. we gotta face it some day....

  2. very true....

    and thanks for the comment :)

  3. hi haven't been back here for a while but since Terry pratchett is one of my favorite authors I must say that I'm thrilled that you're devoting a whole post to him...also I simply had to know where that quote was from, since it's now niggling at the edge of my mind (I don't know if that's the right way to put it...) also since I can't find the thread where you mentioned it--did you read book of a thousand days yet???? did you like it?

  4. Hi abg!!! I'm so excited you commented, I'm replying to you from work even though that's going to inflate my view total inaccurately... oh well :)
    You really haven't been here in a while if you haven't even read this post yet... but I had no idea Terry Pratchett was a favorite author of yours - I guess why not, he's totally funny... didn't know you were into that, but the truth is, I'm not exactly into that kind of thing either, and I've read most of his books :)
    I actually got Book of a Thousand Days out of the library a long time ago, but I didn't have a chance to read it and I have to return it today - but I *got it out again* - from a different library :) so it's on my list - and rest assured, you will hear what I think of it when I do read it... as long as you read my blog (wicked grin)
    Which quote do you mean though? Oh I see - should I just tell you? It's from Daddy Long Legs (I suppose I should really email you, since it's doubtful you'll read this but... you can email me too :)