L is for Laughter

Originally, L was the Lowry. I determined early on that I wouldn't discuss The Giver because (1) I only read it once; (2) I don't care for dystopia fiction (yes, I have read Lord of the Flies; yes, it is good; yes, I have no desire to read it again).

I wished instead to praise Lois Lowry's amazing comedies--which I do below:

Well-written comedies remind me of the time I tried to paint abstract art. I can produce fairly respectable representational art. But the one time I tried abstract art, it looked like mud.

It "looks" easy; it isn't--not for self-conscious adults anyway. I won't argue with those who claim, "My five-year old could do that!" Yeah, your five-year-old probably could for the same reason that non-Hollywood child actors often get the leads in movies like Glory and The Black Stallion. They bring a freshness and naturalness to the roles that adult actors can only reproduce through sheer willpower or luck.

Likewise, not everyone can be a comic, no matter how effortless it appears (and good comedy should appear effortless). Anyone can be a tragedian. Let's face it: it is EASY to be depressed and angsty and down on life. It's EASY to claim profundity by talking about BIG TOPICS. Twain hilariously spoofs this easy profundity in Huckleberry Finn when Finn learns about the young woman who produced death poetry--and people took her seriously:
O no. Then list with tearful eye,
   Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly
   By falling down a well.

They got him out and emptied him;
   Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
   In the realms of the good and great.
Comedy is hard. Good comedy with banter and strong pay-offs is even harder. You think Romeo & Juliet is difficult to teach? (It isn't.) Try Much Ado About Nothing!

Lowry's comedic works are hilarious with strong characterizations, excellent banter, and a deceptively light tone. May they never be forgotten:
Anastasia series (9 books)
Taking Care of Terrific
If you are dead-set on seriousness and don't care for dystopia fiction, check out these books by Lowry:
A Summer for Die
Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye
Following my tribute to Lowry's fiction is the extra "laughter" part:

Since I'm discussing hilarious children's fiction, and I've reached the "L"s, I have to mention Astrid Lindgren. She's best known for writing Pippi Longstocking, but she also wrote a hilarious series about a young boy named Emil: Emil and the Soup Tureen, Emil and Piggy Beast . . .

Basically, Lindgren created Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) before Watterson did. The individual tales, vignettes, are not only clever and funny but helped by the equally funny drawings.

2 comments:

FreeLiveFree said...

I don't what it says about me but my writing tends to be funny without trying. (Mind you, I have only one real publication to my credit.) The dark horror/crime hybrid story I wrote had funny scenes. I don't know why.

Some writers who are known for their dark stories wrote a lot of funny stories. Poe is known for his horror stories but he wrote a lot of humorous stories during his time. (Though it tends to be dark humor.) Robert E. Howard who is known for is grim and bloody fantasy stories, but during his life time he made his bread and butter writing humorous stories about boxing. Some of which are really funny though still fairly violent. (Also, don't get me started on SJW's calling him an evil sexist when in reality he was more enlightened than most people then and a lot of people now.)

Eugene said...

Speaking of Astrid Lindgren, Studio Ghibli produced (Goro Miyazaki directed) an adaptation of Ronja, the Robber's Daughter. Amazon Prime has the English-language rights.