I’m currently reading this:
It’s a satire of the publishing industry and is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Go on, buy it. You won’t regret it.
Properly funny books are the holy grail and surprisingly tricky to find. Go to the Humour section of Waterstones and all you’ll find are books with titles like “Essential Foreign Swear Words” and ‘The Little Book of Management Bollocks” – barrel-scraping stuff that does really well because everyone has a young relative they neither really know nor like but have to buy a Christmas present for, and one of these seems marginally more thoughtful than chocolates or socks. It’s a trap I’ve fallen into myself, having once bought someone The Mighty Boosh book, a TV cash-in of such thieving laziness I might as well have been punched in the face and had the £9.99 ripped straight from my purse. It was a Number-One bestseller though, so at least Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt were laughing.
In fact, I can hardly think of any books that are genuinely snigger-on-the-Tube funny. David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day is one, as is Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim (I’d love to say what a genius David Sedaris is, but thanks to this I’m too ashamed.) Conversations With My Agent by Rob Long is also very, very funny. It’s also, shamefully, out of print now, but you can get a copy on Amazon for 0.01p (plus £27.80 postage). Oh, and let’s not forget Catch 22.
I’m always on the lookout for funny novels, but am never sure how to find them. I’ve tried trawling those ‘funniest books of all time’ lists you get online, but they always trot out the usual suspects and I don’t care what Stephen Fry says, PG Wodehouse isn’t funny. Ditto Kingsley Amis. Or A Confederacy of Dunces. The people who laugh at those books are the kind who go to see Twelfth Night and titter loudly at Malvolio in his yellow stockings just to make sure the rest of the audience knows they got the joke. So if you’d like to recommend any, I am 100-per-cent all ears.