5 Humorous Writers: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Pat McManus, Douglas Adams, and Roger Zelazny.
A few great, funny books.
A few guys to peruse, perhaps?
My wife doesn't like female vocalists. If you thumb through the music she likes, there isn't a female singing in the batch. I didn't realize I was that chauvinist until this topic popped into my head. None of the writers I'm naming are female. I have nothing against female writers, but I have yet to find one that I find consistently funny. If you can suggest a few in the comments, I'm willing to listen.
On to the show. In no particular order, here are some funny guys I return to again and again.
- Neil Gaiman. I just finished Anansi Boys. I can't say that I'm super-familiar with Gaiman's work, but this combined with Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett), puts him firmly in my list of people to read. Read Good Omens and you can get two off of this list killed in one blow.
- Douglas Adams. While almost everyone is now familiar with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, I really preferred the Dirk Gently novels. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul are the two books of Adams' that I find myself re-reading every year or two.
- Terry Pratchett. When Pratchett's Discworld novels first burst on to the scene, many people didn't believe there was a Terry Pratchett. They thought it was Doug Adams trying his hand at fantasy. As the Discworld developed and Pratchett came into his own, it was clear that Pratchett was a force to be reckoned with. Along with the previously mentioned Good Omens, I think that almost any Discworld novel is worth a look. His characters do evolve. The Esme Weatherwax in Equal Rites isn't the same person we find in his later work.
- Roger Zelazny. While Zelazny's legacy is mainly his Amber novels, he always had a light, sardonic wit. He wrote a series of amusing novels with Robert Sheckly known as The Millennial Contest series. They begin with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming. Isle of the Dead and This Immortal are two of my favorite straight SF novels. His humor shines through in any of his work. Beware though: He wrote several experimental novels to expand his writing ability. Some of them make heavier reading than others...
- Patrick McManus. McManus is the odd man out here. If you're some sort of rabid vegetarian or vegan, do not go near this man's books. Really. I'm not kidding. I wouldn't even finish reading this description of him. Ok, I warned you. McManus is an outdoorsman and writes some of the funniest stuff I have ever read about some of the most unfunny situations you could be in. If there is one thing I owe to my first wife (who has already left the friend she left me for, years ago), it's introducing me to McManus. Ex-wife's dad was a rabid outdoorsman/hunter/killer of fluffy bunnies. She bought him some McManus and I read part of it before it got packed off as a Christmas gift. I was hooked. A Fine and Pleasant Misery or The Night the Bear ate Goombaw are two good choices. I don't think this man ever published something that wasn't funny. Last I looked, you could buy autographed copies of his stuff directly from him.
Two Honorable Mentions. I am an elitist. I don't consider things with pictures with blurbs of text "books." Yes, it eliminates a lot of Gaiman's work, but that's not exactly the written word. Anyway, I do love me some good comics, though. So my honorable mentions are:
- Gary Larson. I grew up with The Far Side. It was the common language for me and my Dad. We could say, "Hey, this reminds me of the one about the vultures sitting on the carcass," and know exactly which cartoon the other was talking about. Larson is the king of the short comic panel. No one else has ever come close.
- Bill Watterson The day Calvin and Hobbes went into reruns was a dark day. With today's publishing market, C&H couldn't survive because of the vast demands Watterson asked of the newspaper industry. In it's day, it was beautiful and funny. Having the words you think every day come out of the mouth of a snide 6 year-old was priceless.