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Old 02-23-2010, 08:27 PM
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Recommend me some humor/dramedy/slice of life novels!

As I've grown older, I've found myself reading mostly non-fiction (Current Events, Biographies, Economics), after a life time of fiction (SciFi, Mystery, Thrillers).

Yet all that non-fiction can really be a downer. ESPECIALLY economics and current events these days!

So, I like to sneak in a little fiction between my non-fictions to keep me from jumping off a bridge!

I read The Road, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Water For Elephants, and The Kite Runner.

Still thinking of slitting my wrists.

Then I discovered a sub-genre of books I think can be called Slice of Life novels.
Funny, but with heart. The comedy is usually dry, and somewhat sarcastic. If I could compare it to a film, it would be something like Royal Tenenbaums or Almost Famous. Hip and vibrant.

Such books I have found include: Drink, Play, [email protected]#$, This Is Where I Leave You, Then We Came to The End , Book of Joe, Shopgirl, The Pleasure of My Company, and New Bedlam.

It is tough to know who to ask for recs along these lines, because it is a hard to define sub-genre. I open it up to the Dope!
Old 02-24-2010, 08:21 AM
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Story of my Life by Jay McInerny. Very short and easy to read, contains lots of good jokes. Hardly any plot to speak of, but a great, comical 'slice of life' short novel that doesn't out-stay its welcome.

Good As Gold by Joseph Heller. 'Catch-22' became a phenomenon, as well all know. The follow-up, 'Something Happened', was intentionally very slow and ponderous because that was part of the joke. This turned off a lot of Heller fans, so they never tried this, his third outing. Very under-rated. Slimmer and punchier than either of his previous efforts, with lots of good jokes, plenty of brilliant Heller observation, glorious linguistic acrobatics as only Heller could deliver, and an ingenious structure. Very easy to enjoy.

You might also like the classic short stories of Damon Runyon, and the short stories of Truman Capote as featured in compilations such as Music For Chameleons.
Old 02-24-2010, 09:11 AM
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I'm going to mention some of the books/authors I thought of upon seeing the thread title, even though, now that I read the OP, I see that some of them aren't quite what you're asking for: not hip, sarcastic, or modern enough. Still, all of the following have both humor and heart, they're character-driven rather than plot-driven, about everyday events rather than momentous ones, "realistic" rather than genre fiction, and I enjoyed reading them:

Garrison Keillor is quite a good novelist. My favorite of his is Wobegon Boy.

Anne Tyler writes "slice of life" type novels. Saint Maybe is my favorite of hers, but other people have different favorites.

Robertson Davies's early novels (i.e. those that make up the Salterton Trilogy) aren't his greatest, but they are his lightest and funniest, and everything he's written is good.

Clyde Edgerton is hit-or-miss but can be very good, as in Walking Across Egypt (and its sequel, Killer Diller).

After hearing enough other Dopers recommend Richard Russo's Straight Man, I read it and enjoyed it.

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is an interesting read.
Old 02-24-2010, 10:04 AM
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We have pretty similar tastes, I have read several Jonathan Tropper books and liked Shopgirl and Then We Came to the End.

Maybe some Nick Hornby? I loved High Fidelity. You might like Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (it's a little over the top to be slice of life, but I thought it was funny). I also loved Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

I hope there are lots of good suggestions, because I also like this sub genre!
Old 02-24-2010, 10:13 AM
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Bill Bryson's books, any of them, are a lovely stroll.
Old 02-24-2010, 10:15 AM
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I like A. J. Jacobs. His books aren't fiction but are funny and informative due to the nature of his curiosity.
Old 02-24-2010, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest View Post
Bill Bryson's books, any of them, are a lovely stroll.
Exactly who I came in to mention. A good fit for the OP.
Old 02-24-2010, 10:31 AM
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For a complete departure from the sane world, you might try a book by Christopher Moore, such as Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, or Island of the Sequined Love Nun. They're. . .different.
Old 02-24-2010, 11:18 AM
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Sounds like some good recs. Thanks everyone!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glory View Post
We have pretty similar tastes, I have read several Jonathan Tropper books and liked Shopgirl and Then We Came to the End.

Maybe some Nick Hornby? I loved High Fidelity. You might like Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (it's a little over the top to be slice of life, but I thought it was funny). I also loved Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

I hope there are lots of good suggestions, because I also like this sub genre!
Very helpful. I had indentified Beat the Reaper as a possible read. I also felt like Hornby would be a good fit, but I hate reading a book AFTER I've seen the film, and I so many of his have been adapted (I can think of three I have seen and I enjoyed them). I'll look into Grossman.

ETA: Glory, if you haven't- check out Steve Martin's other novella, The Pleasure of My Company., I liked it better even than Shopgirl. I also recommend Martin's autobiography Born Standing Up, if you are interested in nonfiction. Treat yourself to the audiobook version on these two. Among the few times audio is probably better than the printed version. Martin read them, naturally.

Last edited by middleman; 02-24-2010 at 11:20 AM.
Old 02-24-2010, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glory View Post
Maybe some Nick Hornby?
Oh yeah—good call! I forgot about Nick.
Quote:
Originally Posted by middleman View Post
ETA: Glory, if you haven't- check out Steve Martin's other novella, The Pleasure of My Company., I liked it better even than Shopgirl. I also recommend Martin's autobiography Born Standing Up, if you are interested in nonfiction. Treat yourself to the audiobook version on these two. Among the few times audio is probably better than the printed version. Martin read them, naturally.
Seconded.
Old 02-24-2010, 02:42 PM
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Three books by one of my favorite writers are back in print. Start with The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson.

"On a quiet autumn afternoon in 1944, nine-year-old Morris Bird III decides to visit a friend who lives on the other side of town. So he grabs the handle of his red wagon and, with his little sister in tow, begins an incredible pilgrimage across Cleveland . . . and out of childhood forever.

Set against the backdrop of one of the worst industrial disasters in American history, Don Robertson's enduring, beloved masterwork is a remarkable story of destiny, bravery, and responsibility, as fresh and relevant as when it first appeared in print."


In a funnier vein but also a bit on the dark side, I liked The Comedy Writer by Peter Farrelly.

Nobody does "slice of life" better than Stewart O'Nan. Try Last Night at the Lobster, and then Wish You Were Here and The Speed Queen.

Last edited by AuntiePam; 02-24-2010 at 02:42 PM.
Old 02-24-2010, 05:26 PM
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How about something light? Night of the Avenging Blowfish: A Novel of Covert Operations, Love, and Luncheon Meat.

OR maybe something a little strange: I, JFK - an 'AUTObiography' of John F Kennedy written 25 years AFTER his assassination.
Old 02-24-2010, 05:30 PM
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No discussion of comical novels is complete without a mention of A Confederacy of Dunces. Easily the funniest book I have read.
Old 02-25-2010, 05:30 PM
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Good Omens is a fun read.

Gil's All Fright Diner surprised me.

Population 485 is a slice of life written by a paramedic in a small community. I adored this book.
Old 02-25-2010, 05:32 PM
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The Good, good pig.
Old 02-25-2010, 06:09 PM
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Douglas Coupland is good for that sort of thing. Start with Generation X. The marginal blurbs alone will tickle you.
Old 02-25-2010, 06:29 PM
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Any of David Sedaris's books.

Portnoy's Complaint.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
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