Well, 2018 has been a funny year in a lot of ways, but perhaps particularly in books, where writers of fiction and essays brought out their best material. If you are in the mood to laugh, we've got five new reads to recommend.
Stephen McCauley’s My Ex-Life has made a lot of readers laugh out loud since it was published in May of this year. The set-up is this: Julie and David, who divorced due to fundamental incompatibility (he’s gay) move back in together because of first-world problems involving real estate and college admissions. Reviewers have been overwhelmingly charmed by My Ex-Life. The New York Times compared McCauley (The Object of My Affection; Insignificant Others) to Tom Perrotta and Maria Semple; Maureen Corrigan of NPR said of My Ex-Life, “This is the kind of witty, sparkling, sharp novel for which the verb ‘chortle’ was invented.” Readers weighed in with comments like “a ton of fun! … I loved this quirky, witty read.” We think you will, too.
Lauren Weisberger’s latest novel was one of the hit books of the summer, and an Amazon Best Book for June. If you loved The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll recognize Emily Charlton, once assistant to Miranda Priestly, now an image consultant in L.A. who is summoned to stuffy Greenwich, Connecticut, to help give a friend-of-a friend an urgent image rehab. Amazon Editor Seira Wilson wrote, “When Life Gives You Lululemons is a laugh-out-loud funny look at rich people behaving badly and the steel bonds of true female friendship.” Kirkus Reviews agreed, saying, “This lemon is juicy and delicious,” and readers responded with comments like, “This was fabulous, it had me LOL’ing from all it’s snark and humor throughout the book - loved it!”
You probably know: a “French Exit” is when guests sneak out of a party without saying goodbye, and that’s just what Frances, “a moneyed, striking woman of 65 years” does when she blows through the last of her cash and flees Manhattan for Paris. Add to the mix her apathetic 32-year-old son, some ragtag expat friends, and a cat named Small Frank—who may or may not embody the spirit of Frances’s dead husband—and you have a bizarre but wildly successful comedy. DeWitt (Undermajordomo Minor; The Sisters Brothers) adds just a soupçon of pathos, making French Exit more than just frothy fun. It's an Amazon Best Book of the Month for August, and reviewers agree: this is one party you won’t want to leave early.
When Crosley published Look Alive Out There in April, accompanied by a blurb from Steve Martin, readers were delighted. In a starred review in Booklist, one wrote, “Laugh-out-loud funny seems too trite a phrase for a writer whose takes are so addictively original and unexpected, but it’s also true: dear readers, you will laugh.” But it’s not a shallow kind of laughter: Crosley provides depth and social commentary that give her essays resonance. As Amazon Editor Erin Kodicek wrote, “Like a friend, Crosley is not afraid to veer into vulnerable territory, which reveals the growth of a writer who first displayed her sardonic wit and keen appreciation of the absurd in I Was Told There’d Be Cake. It’s as good a time as any to be reminded that life is full of good humor, but only a select few do that as well as Sloane Crosley.”
Pretend I’m Dead, which came out in May, is a thoroughly surprising story about a 24-year-old woman named Mona who works as a house cleaner and volunteers at a needle exchange program, where she becomes fascinated by a man she calls “Mr. Disgusting.” On Goodreads, one enamored reviewer wrote that Pretend I'm Dead is "darkly humorous in a perfectly understated manner" and "quirky in the best possible way." Jami Attenberg, whose most recent novel was the critical favorite All Grown Up, described Beagin as “wise, whip-smart and compassionate” and went on to say, “I tore through Pretend I'm Dead with a deep sense of affection for all of its beautifully flawed characters and their bittersweet lives."