Category Archives: Comedy & Satire

Wolf of Wall Street

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Title: Wolf of Wall Street
 
Author: Jordan Belfort
 
Publisher: Bantam Books, 2007
 
Summary/Review: It’s hard to believe that this book is non-fiction because Jordon Belfort, the author and main character of the book, has portrayed his meteoric rise from lowly assistant stockbroker a mega-millionaire as such a farce.  I am sure that there are financial and stock market insights to be gleaned from reading this book, but it is so funny that you don’t care.  The author describes in excruciating detail his all-encompassing desire to eat, drink, self-medicate, and debauch to his heart’s content.  All while earning millions of dollars each month.  He takes us behind the scenes of manipulated IPO’s, some of which seem to be created exclusively to enrich him and his firm.  By the time he is caught out by federal authorities for money laundering, insider trading, and other financial crimes he has been married twice, had two children, and achieved the ripe old age of 36!  This is a morality story but again it is so funny, page after page, that you can simply enjoy it.
 
This book has been made into a movie starring Leonard DeCaprio.
 
Who will like this book?If you saw (and enjoyed) the movie, we always recommend reading the book!  If you’re looking for a funny read about a very serious topic.  If you’re interested in memoirs, finance, or comedy!
 
If you like this, try this: Belfort has written another book about his exploits (and ultimately, his downfall) in “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street”.  If you felt there was anything lacking, this second book of stories may fill in the gaps.  If you’re looking for more information and stories dealing with Wall Street and the people who run it, try “House of Cards” by William Cohan (who also writes “The Last Tycoons”).  Greg Smith also wrote a piece for the New York Times, “Why I Left Wall Street”, which has since been turned into a book after 3 million readers logged onto the Times website to see his account.  This one has a much darker view on the excess and extravagance of Wall Street. 
 
Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer
If you’d like to read this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!
 

Dad is fat

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Title: DAD IS FAT

Author:  Jim Gaffigan

Publisher: Crown, May 2013

Summary/Review: Anyone who has children, has been a child or knows anyone with children will love this book. Jim Gaffigan, a stand-up comedian best known for his riffs on Hot Pockets,  has written a funny, honest look at parenthood.  He is the father of 5 children, all under the age of 9. To some of us that would be enough to strike fear in our hearts. Add into the mix that he and his family live in a 2-bedroom, 5-story walkup in the Bowery section of Manhattan and most of us would run screaming for the hills.  He credits his wife with being the one who holds it all together, but what comes through in the book is the wonderful partnership they have, collaborating not only on parenting but on his stage shows, movies and books as well.  His ability to laugh at himself, all while clearly adoring his family made it a great read. This was a wonderful book, a laugh-out-loud funny book.   Included in the chapters are drawings by his children, family pictures and floor plans that map out how to put 5 children to bed in a 2-bedroom apartment while still allowing for mommy and daddy time. Needless to say, it’s not easy!

Who will like this? Anyone who needs a good laugh, as anyone who reads the book will be able to identify with at least one chapter in it!

If you like this, try this:  If you’re interested in reading more about the lives of comedians, try Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang” or “Lies Chelsea Handler Told me”, or Ellen DeGeneris’ “Seriously…I’m Kidding”.   Another hilarious book you may like is Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened”.  If you’re looking for comedy, try anything by David Sedaris or Dave Barry.

Recommended by: Linda, Circulation

If you’re interested in this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold

 

The Fiddler in the Subway

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Title: The Fiddler in the Subway: The true story of what happened when a world-class violinist played for handouts – and other virtuoso performances by America’s foremost feature writer

Author: Gene Weingarten

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, July 2010

Summary: If you take one of the worlds best musicians and place him in the middle of one of the nation’s busiest subway stations and have him play his heart out, will anyone stop and listen? In this collection of sharply observed essays, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten shows why he is the only person to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing twice. Not only is he a brilliant writer (or, ‘investigative humorist,’ as he calls himself), he chooses to write on a variety of subjects from the ridiculous (trying to incite the French to be rude to him in Paris) to the sublime (witnessing the lengths to which a concerned citizenry will go in order to save a small bird trapped in a shop window.) Along the way, you will discover that the highest paid children’s performer in the D.C. area, “The Great Zucchini,” is a man whose personal demons might be his greatest professional asset, and you will meet the residents of Battle Mountain, NV, who might just live in “The Armpit of America.”

Like any great humorist, Weingarten is not afraid of pointing out his own shortcomings. Like any great journalist, he is willing to get to the root of his subject, even if what he finds there is chilling, disturbing, or deeply tragic. Many people believe Weingarten is the best essayist in America. Readers of this book would have a hard time arguing with that.

Who will like this book?: This is a great book for all general non-fiction readers – the essays cover a wide array of topics. And as Weingarten is a former editor, this book is also full of useful information and inspiration for writers.

If you like this, read this: How Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley. I’ll Mature When I’m Dead by Dave Barry. Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

These Children Who Come At You With Knives

Title: These Children Who Come At You With Knives and Other Fairy Tales

Author: Jim Knipfel

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, June 2010

Summary: Fractured fairy tales have long been a popular genre in youth literature, and in this wicked, inspired collection, the grown-ups finally get their own twisted takes on ‘happily ever after.’ If you are expecting a modern-day Cinderella or Little Mermaid story, this is not the book for you.

Instead, you will meet a chicken who is too smart for her own good, a demented gnome bent on world domination, and a gossipy houseplant that would give Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors a run for her (it’s?) money. And it’s not giving too much away by saying that none of the stories has the traditional fairy tale ending. This bold collection will make you laugh and squirm at the same time.

Who will like this book?: Fans of satire. Cynics. People who think to themselves, ‘if Cinderella’s slippers were really made of glass, wouldn’t she cut up her feet?’

If you like this, read this: Another great (albeit less brutal) take on fairy tales for grown-ups, the Fables graphic novel series by Bill Willingham.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

How I Became a Famous Novelist

Title: How I Became a Famous Novelist

Author: Steve Hely

Publisher: Grove Press, July 2009

Summary: Pete Tarslaw writes for a living: He works for a slightly-shady company that rewrites entrance essays for grammar-challenged college and grad school applicants. When he learns that his college girlfriend (who betrayed him by being ambitious enough to apply to law school while he drifted through his slacker senior year) is getting married, he decides to take action. Pete sets out to become rich and famous enough to make Polly see the error of her ways – or at least really depressed at her wedding – by writing the best selling novel…ever. Pete discovers it’s not so hard to do: Just examine the best seller list and insert every last literary cliche into one story.

Poking fun at nearly every blockbuster author, the publishing industry, and the staggering entitlement of a certain segement of  post-collegiate Americans, the story of the rise and fall and rise of Pete and his book, The Tornado Ashes Club will have fiction fans laughing out loud. And while he is a scoundrel, you’ll find yourself rooting for Pete in his scandalous adventures. A terrific book for the post-holiday season.

Who will like this book?: Readers (and writers) who go crazy looking at best seller lists. People who ‘don’t get’ the popularity of trash fiction authors. Fans of literary satire. Recent liberal arts college grads.

If you like this, try this: Books by Christopher Buckley (Boomsday, Thank You For Smoking) and Christopher Moore (Lamb, The Stupidest Angel.)

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Into the Beautiful North

Title: Into the Beautiful North

Author: Luis Alberto Urrea

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, May 2009

Summary: This book was deliciously lyrical and why would you expect anything less than this from the author of the widely acclaimed novel The Hummingbird’s Daughter and 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction for The Devil’s Highway. Mr. Urrea has outdone himself this time writing about Nayeli, the wonderful heroine who sets out on a monumental quest from her small southern Mexican town to America. Humor is woven from start to finish into a rather harrowing and realistic journey through the rugged and dangerous countryside of Mexico to Tijuana, Mexico from where illegal passage into the U.S. is planned. I was reminded of Don Quixote and longed for the success of the adventure of Nayeli and her unique companions.

Once they reach Tijuana, the author’s deep knowledge and love for Tijuana comes through vibrantly. One of the most fascinating depictions is life in the Tijuana dump. The squalor of living conditions is truly harrowing but is balanced by the beauty of human resilience and joy for life of the dump inhabitants.  This is not the story of a group of people seeking and finding the holy grail in America. It is rather the poignant story of a person’s quest to do something for the greater good of her beloved community and coming to America temporarily to achieve that and return to her beloved country.

Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian

When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Title: When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Author: David Sedaris

Summary: In his latest collection of comedic essays, David Sedaris picks up right where he left off – spinning amusing, unforgettable anecdotes from everyday topics, from walking through a zoo alongside (or far behind) his partner, his unwitting friendship with town outcasts, and busybody neighbors, his obsession with house spiders and an attempt to quit smoking in a tobacco-permissive Japan.

It’s not just that Sedaris is the undisputed master of this form: It’s that he doesn’t allow the humor to get in the way of the heartfelt sentiment of the tales he tells – and vice versa. Each essay takes you on a journey you’d never expect, and to conclusions you would never imagine when reading its opening sentences.

Who will like this book?:If you enjoy the satire and humor of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and you haven’t read any Sedaris yet, what are you waiting for! It doesn’t have the political bent, just the same sharp social critique and merciless self-deprecation.

If you like this, try this:Anything else by Sedaris, especially Holidays on Ice. Also note: The audiobook versions of his stuff are excellent. Fraud by David Rakoff. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Know-It-All

Title: The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

Author: A.J. Jacobs

Summary: The premise of this book is quite simple: Jacobs, then an editor for Esquire, decides to fill the ever-growing gaps in his education by reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The whole thing, from start to finish. As his ‘knowledge’ increases, so do the hilarious encounters between his mostly-patient wife, his father (who once attempted the same feat, but stalled B), his obnoxiously smart brother-in-law, Alex Trebek, and the staff of the hallowed encyclopedia itself.

Organized from A to Z, this is a very funny book with a very big heart, especially concerning the struggles of Jacobs and his wife to conceive. Full of trivia (including Descartes’ preference for cross-eyed women), and amusing anecdotes about modern life, this book is probably a better way to spend an afternoon then hefting a volume of the Britannica – not only will it make you feel smarter, it will put a smile on your face.

Who will like this book?:Fans of comedic writing, trivia masters, confirmed know-it-alls or know-it-alls in training.

If you like this, try this: Jacob’s latest book, The Year of Living Biblically. For a more serious look at famous reference books, go for The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

I Was Told There’d Be Cake

Title: I Was Told There’d Be Cake

Author: Sloane Crosley

Summary: This collection of witty, self-depricating, utterly hillarious essays examine what is means to be young, single and whipsmart in New York today. Crosley, who grew up in Westchester and has written for the New York Observer, Playboy and The Village Voice, touches on many of the common experiences of growing up in suburbia: summer camp, being a bridesmaid, secretly wishing you lived somewhere more exotic; as well as life in post-9/11 New York, from the secret kindness of strangers, dinner parties and moving to a new apartment. However, like the essays of David Sedaris, these mundane events transform into irreverant, laugh-out-loud commentaries on the intricacies of modern life.

One of the blurbs on the back of the book calls Crosley “a 21st century Dorothy Parker.” Usually statements like these bother me, but in this case, the proof is in the reading. This is an outstanding debut collection, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Who will like this book?: People waiting patiently for the next David Sedaris book. Young, single, urban (or wannabe urban) women.

If you like this, try this: The books of David Rakoff, including Fraud and Don’t Get Too Comfortable. Or try Sarah Vowell’s witty commentaries on pop culture and history, particularly Assassination Vacation.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian