Comedy - Shastrix Books

Comedy

Recently reviewed

The Girl in Blue

The Girl in Blue

27th January 2014

A classic Wodehouse work following the brief adventures of Jerry West and various family members, who suffer the typical problems in the arenas of money and love.

My main issue with the Wodehouse novels I've read over the past few years is how similar they are, but that might be an artefact of my buying them as a set. However they make for pleasant light reading and remain an enjoyable and relaxing read.

With this particular novel, I felt that the ending was rather abrupter than I'd expected, with plenty of plot points going unresolved, which left me a little frustrated. Overall though a happily spent few hours with some of the lovely turns of phrase that Wodehouse scatters throughout his work.

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Buy book: UK
Laughing Gas

Laughing Gas

27th July 2013

I thought when I started reading that this would be another run of the mill Wodehouse novel (perhaps that's unfair, but the last few I've read have seemed to be approaching formulaic). Not far in though, there is an interesting turn of events that was definitely not what I expected from this author. This change of circumstances throws the rest of the story into a new perspective and made it a really enjoyable tale.

My reading of Wodehouse has however been slightly spoilt by recently watching the latest BBC TV adaptation of Blandings, where the characters seem to become slapstick idiots - not what I recognised from my own readings where the author's wit was dominant. Now I find my mind forcing the dialogue into voices similar to the TV series, which detracts from my former appreciation. I can only hope this goes away soon.

That said, I enjoyed this trip into a different type of adventure, and the remaining 'traditional' Wodehouse elements are made fresh once again.

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Buy book: UK
Hot Water

Hot Water

21st March 2013

While Hot Water contains all the classic hallmarks of a Wodehouse novel, it didn't strike me as one of the best, though among the works of such an author that is hardly a criticism. This novel is set predominantly in a small coastal French town and focusses on a group of predominantly American visitors to the country as they variously dabble in theft, blackmail and love.

The language is as gentle on the ear as I've come to expect from Wodehouse, though the voices from the recent television adaptation of Blandings did seem to creep into my imagination which rather ruined how some lines came across.

The plot is a good mix of characters and their misunderstandings, but I am concerned that the plots of the recent Wodehouse novels I've read have been too similar. I hope that is because they had been bundled together as a set of matching novels rather than a theme that might run through much of his works and that once I move on to more the recurrence will pass.

Overall, a good entertaining read, but lacking the brilliance that some of the novels exhibit.

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Buy book: UK
Where Do Comedians Go When They Die

Where Do Comedians Go When They Die

27th January 2013

Comedian Milton Jones is famous for his one-liners on TV programmes such as Mock The Week, but in this novel he presents a good mix or humour and plot as he tells the tale of not-unfamiliar comedian Jerome Stevens through ten years of his life.

I really like the style of the narrative, alternating between the character reflecting on his immediate past during his journeys between and after various gigs and his situation at the end of the ten-year time span. It's an interesting way to tell a story that is essentially the characters inner monologue without it reading like continual exposition.

The humour is perhaps a little lighter than I was expecting, and a lot of it plays in ironically as Stevens considers ideas for his routines, but overall I enjoyed reading it and would probably read more from Jones if he chooses to write a follow-up novel.

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Buy book: UK
Night of the Living Trekkies

Night of the Living Trekkies

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4th January 2013

A surprisingly awesome book in which a Star Trek convention in a Houston hotel is overrun by zombies, and we follow unwilling hotel staffer Jim Pike as he tries to rescue his sister.

This is a book for Trekkies more than anyone, and is filled with more Star Trek references than an official Trek reference book. There are also tips of the hat to a variety of other science fiction franchises, which makes this more rounded than just a fanboyish novel might sound. Even the things that seem not to be Trek related are, such as a lot of the characters' names.

I'm not usually a reader of horror novels - I bought this based on the title alone - but to me it stood up as a story with a lot more depth than I was expecting. The characters are rounded and believable, and the action is entirely plausible. We're aligned with one character pretty much throughout as the plot flows naturally and at a perfect speed.

I wasn't expecting anything this good when I picked this book up and am very pleased I've read it - it was hard to put down and is probably one of the most fun books I've read for some time. Absolutely fantastic - I hope the authors have more to come.

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Buy book: UK
Big Money

Big Money

31st December 2012

A typical Wodehouse novel - several engaged couples are in love, but not always with each other, and a game of musical chairs ensues. As always, it's light and easy on the eyes, but I also found that this one seemed to drag.

The plot is slow and, having read half-a-dozen similar stories, pretty predictable, and the humour and language seem slightly tamer than in other of his books. It starts well, but then the latter half becomes a shambles of people moving back and forth between city and suburb with not a lot going on.

I've observed before that his novels are often best consumed in small chunks, but with this one I found the chunks I could read in one sitting were getting smaller and smaller and sometimes I could not even complete a chapter in one go.

I'm afraid to say this is the first Wodehouse novel I've read that hasn't charmed me completely, and I'm a little disappointed to find that this was possible. I can only hope this is a one off and that when I return to his works in the future they will be back to what I was expecting.

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Buy book: UK
Jaggy Splinters

Jaggy Splinters

23rd November 2012

Jaggy Splinters is a collection of short stories and other pieces by Christopher Brookmyre, one of my favourite authors, whose series of dark comedies has kept me entertained for many hours. This ebook is a bit of a mixed bag though, with some pieces better than others.

The first story, place b., is the best of the bunch, and is similar to Brookmyre's 'Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks', seeing his most frequent character, journalist Jack Parlabane, investigate homeopathy. In place it feels like a bit of a rant, but it's a story that's trying to tell a point and it's one well made, with the author's usual sense of humour and style intact. Parlabane reappears in one of the later stories, which reads like a discarded opening chapter from a novel, but is nonetheless a good stand alone tale.

The final two pieces I've read before on the web - the first is another interesting short story about a character that could easily have retired from one of Brookmyre's novels. The second felt out of place - it's not really a story, just a piece of comic writing, and one that I didn't find that funny. Of the remaining two short stories, one is another good piece of dark comedy, but the other feels abrupt and the joke doesn't really work - there's no real connection to what's happening and the tale has no real point to it.

Overall, I'm torn - most of the content is excellent - pure Brookmyre genius, and worth the price alone for a little piece of his vision of the world - and the others aren't really weak enough to drag it down. A good quick fix of comic storytelling while I wait for Brookmyre's next novel to come out.

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Other reviewed books

Money for Nothing
Dodger
The Small Bachelor
Ukridge
The Adventures of Sally
Pandaemonium
A Damsel in Distress
Piccadilly Jim
All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye
Be My Enemy
The Sacred Art of Stealing
Eleven
A Big Boy Did it and Ran Away
The Inimitable Jeeves
Boiling a Frog
One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night
Not the End of the World
Country of the Blind
Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years
Quite Ugly One Morning

Unreviewed books

Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years
Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years
Dead Famous
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Fat
Incompetence
Leave it to Psmith
Number Ten
Past Mortem
The Complete Yes Minister
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
The Salmon of Doubt
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾

Top books

  1. Piccadilly Jim
  2. Dodger
  3. Night of the Living Trekkies
  4. Money for Nothing
  5. Eleven
  6. Hot Water
  7. Pandaemonium