Black Humor

  1. Thank You for Smoking
    by Christopher Buckley

    Wicked satire about tobacco lobbyist in contemporary Washington DC. (Warning:  dark humor and sex) Opening paragraph:  Nick Naylor had been called many things since becoming chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. But until now no one had actually compared him to Satan.” They might as well have, though. “Gucci Goebbels,” “yuppie Mephistopheles,” and “death merchant” are just a few endearments Naylor has earned himself as the tobacco lobby’s premier spin doctor. The hero of Thank You for Smoking

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  2. Heartburn
    by Nora Ephron

    How Rachel deals with the break up of her marriage, with the help of humor, group therapy, and cooking. Opening paragraph:  The first day I did not think it was funny.  I didn’t think it was funny the third day either, but I managed to make a little joke about it.  “The most unfair thing about this is that I can’t even date.”  Well, you had to be there, as they say, because when I put it down on paper

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  3. Cold Comfort Farm
    by Stella Gibbons

    An optimistic and self-confident young woman sets about “tidying up” a grim, fate-bound family farm.  Parodies the style of Thomas Hardy. Opening line:  The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own

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  4. Skinny Dip
    by Carl Hiaasen

    Will Joey Perrone survive being tossed overboard by her bribe-taking biologist husband and get revenge on/ his thwart his scam to pollute the Everglades?  (Warning: dark humor, language, and satire) Opening paragraphs:  At the stroke of eleven on a cool April night, a woman named Joey Perrone went overboard from a luxury deck of the cruise line M.V. Sun Duchess.  Plunging toward the dark Atlantic, Joey was too dumbfounded to panic. I married an asshole, she thought, knifing headfirst into

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  5. Small World
    by David Lodge

    “Campus novel” about academics on the international circuit of academic conferences.  (Warning:  language and sex) Opening paragraph:  “April is the cruelest month,” Persse McGarrigle quoted silently to himself, gazing through the grimy windowpanes at the unseasonable snow crusting the lawns and flowerbeds of the Rummidge campus.  He had recently completed a Master’s dissertation on the poetry of T.S. Eliot, but the opening words of The Waste Land might, with equal probability, been passing through the head of any one of

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  6. Vile Bodies
    by Evelyn Waugh

    The on-again, off-again romance between Adam Fenwick-Symes and Nina Blount set in the midst of the Bright Young Things, the decadent London youth society between the two world wars.  (Warning: extremely black humor, but makes me laugh out loud) Opening paragraph:  It was clearly going to be a bad crossing. Quotes from critics:  “One of the century’s great masters of English prose.” (Time); “generally considered as one of the leading English prose writers of the 20th century” (Wikipedia); “ “Waugh’s comic

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