So I had a new idea the other day. I’m still recovering from my latest fibro flare-up, so the funny is kind of being slow in returning. So in the meantime I thought it would be fun to start a little discussion about one of the other mad, passionate love affairs I have going on in my life (besides that between me and regular Coke): Me, and Books.
Today’s Category: Really Stinkin’ Funny Memoirs
I thought that I could share some passages from the books I currently have on my mind, and then hit you guys up for some book recommendations of your own.
1. Mennonite in a little black dress by Rhoda Janzen. I knew this book was for me the minute I picked it up off the New Nonfiction table at Barnes & Noble and read the first page:
“The year I turned forty-three was the year I realized I should have never taken my Mennonite genes for granted. I’d long assumed that I had been genetically scripted to robust physical health, like my mother, who never even catches a head cold. All of my relatives on her side, the Lowenes, enjoy preternaturally good health, unless you count breast cancer and polio. The polio is pretty much a done deal, thanks to Jonas Salk and his talent for globally useful vaccinations. Yet in the days before Jonas Salk, when my mother was a little girl, polio crippled her younger brother Abe and also withered the arm of her closest sister Gertrude. Trude bravely wnet on to raise two kids one-armed, and to name her withered arm Stinky.
____ Yes, I think “Stinky” is a cute name for a withered arm!
____ No, I’d prefer to name my withered arm something with a little more dignity, such as Reynaldo.”
2. A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I just picked this up a couple of days ago after reading passages like this:
“I wrote a memoir several years ago that sold a lot of copies. I got a big head about it for a while and thought I was an amazing writer or something, but I’ve written books since that haven’t sold, so I’m insecure and things are back to normal.”
Then he was contacted by a studio who wanted to turn his book into a movie, and a couple of filmakers, Steve and Ben, fly to Seattle to meet with him about it.
“We didn’t start talking about the movie right away. We stood on the porch and watched snow make magic of the sky.”
Then later, “You have a sled, man?” Ben asked, still reading the snowflakes.
“No. It doesn’t snow much here.” I wondered whether I’d have a sled if it did.
“We could use trash can lids,” Steve said.
“I have two kayaks,” I said. I said this because I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t an outdoorsman just because I didn’t have a sled. But I did have kayaks.
…”Kayaks are nice. Kind of a summer thing,” Steve said. He was crossing his arms to stay warm.
“Let’s have a look at them,” Ben said. “Anything will slide, really. Some things slide better than others. But anything will slide.” We started walking up the driveway toward the garage. I wondered what we were going to do with the kayaks. My driveway sloped down toward the street, but it wasn’t a steep drop. Ben kept looking back at the slope as if it were a river, as though there were rapids flowing over the cement and ice.
“Did you do a lot of drugs when you were younger, Ben?” I hoped he wasn’t offended at the question. He stopped as we walked up the driveway.. I turned toward him, and he stood and thought about it for a second. Then he kind of punched me in the chest. “I did, man, I did,” he said. “Wow, man, it’s like you know me.”
3. It Sucked and then Then I Cried, by Heather B. Armstrong, aka “Dooce“.
It’s pretty much impossible to find a passage in this book that doesn’t make me snort so hard that I must keep checking to make sure I haven’t disgorged one of my eyeballs. For example, here Heather and her husband have just found out that she is pregnant, and this is their response:
“I had hundreds of ideas for names, most of them stolen directly from the cast of The Dukes Of Hazzard as there was no other show on television that has more accurately captured the spirit of my Southern upbringing, where my mama knew everyone’s business and my cousins routinely took each other to prom. If my kid wasn’t going to have my last name, he or she could at least look at their driver’s license and be reminded of their maternal Tennessean heritage, one where wearing shoes to the grocery store is totally optional by law.
…Jon wanted nothing to do with a Bo or a Luke because he knew too many of those who had communicable diseases, and the act of calling our child one of those names would force him to lose four teeth. Which, okay, fine, we both had to agree on this, so I let him list his favorite names: SnigSnak, Qranqor, Styrofoam, KidNation, Frontline (after the television show or the flea medication), One (or First, or Premiere), Palette, Alphamask, Format (for a boy), Formatte (for a girl), Profile, Tweeter, Peavey. Possibly Wrench if the baby came out with an interesting nose.
While all of these ideas were teeming with originality and flair, two very important qualities in a baby name, we couldn’t help but think that what our work in progress needed was something more Utahn. You cannot live in Utah and give your baby a boring name that some other baby in Wisconsin might have, and we couldn’t get over the nagging feeling that someone in Wisconsin was naming their first-born child Alphamask as we lay there debating.”
All right. I’ve given you some of my favorites-now it’s your turn. What Really Stinkin’ Funny Memoirs do you recommend?
mono de queso says
Well, I’m not sure if it meets the “Really Stinkin’ Funny” criteria, but “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson is funny and really good. Where else can you learn about a country that lost its Prime Minister to a rip tide without the rest of the world knowing it, or a place that has not one or two giant roadside animals, but a whole series of them (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia's_big_things). One of the best parts for me was listening to the audio book recorded by the author. His never ending stories of the amazing people he met and crazy things he did kept me entertained for hours.
I highly recommend it.
Lynn Crymble says
This is a great idea Jenny and the books you’ve highlighted are really stinkin’ funny as you put it.
Your funny might be a bit slow, yet you still managed to spread some funny – good stuff!
The only way you could make this brilliant title any better is if we declared a change to “BUNday” (I love alliteration!)
I love books as much as you don’t but haven’t read all of these, gee thanks for adding to my never-ending list (yeesh!)
But if you love books and regular Coke as much as I love books, you should try Mexican Coke, or just before Passover you can buy kosher Coke (yellow cap, same label) and both have REAL SUGAR (not corn syrup.)
But I digress. Thanks Jenny, for the fun post series — looking forward to next Monday! (Never thought I’d say THAT in print ~ ha!)
What a great idea for a series! And thank you for the recommendations. I haven’t read it yet, but I’d like to read Craig Ferguson’s memoir. I bet it’s a riot. He wrote a novel that I read a couple years ago and enjoyed.
Michelle Russell says
Jenny, you and Regular Coke don’t know what you’re missing. Come on over sometime and I’ll introduce you to my cool companion, Diet Coke. Yeah, he’s addictive, all right, but he’s oh, so delicious.
This is a great idea for a series, and I love the selections you picked for our appetizer! I know I won’t be able to think of any funny memoirs for the life of me until I hit “submit comment” and leave the page, at which point at least five brilliant ones will spontaneously occur to me.
But I definitely second mono de queso’s suggestion of “In a Sunburned Country,” and pretty much anything else by Bill Bryson. He’s hysterical.
Yay-thanks so much for stopping by, everyone!!
@leah and MDQ-these are both going on my reading list immediately 🙂
@GirlPie-Coke recommendations!! And already looking forward to next week! Thank you.
I’m currently reading Rhoda Janzen’s “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress,” when, on page 20 Rhoda writes:
“Would he just ignore a phone ringing in his pants?”
AT THAT VERY MOMENT my cell phone, which is in my right pocket pants, begins to sound the “Ode to Joy” ringtone I have on it, and the shock of reading this and hearing the cell phone nearly shocks me off of the bench I am swinging on.
Ah, mon Dieu! I also once had my own pee bag. Yes, the rubber straps on the leg hooked to my kidney and all, and I went swinging it around in a McD’s parking lot on my way in, just for kicks. I was 22, what can I say??
Oh yes – just put you on my blogroll. Once I quit gulping water in my own deep mirey tread I’ll get back to writing…still fairly new.
Jenny Ryan says
Janice, that is one of the funniest stories ever! I definitely would’ve fallen off the bench.
Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll 🙂