When next your chuckle muscles feel the need for exercise, you might feel drawn to reading the latest outburst from Tonald Drump or the winter weather forecast. But let me suggest a couple of alternatives just as funny but with no unpleasant aftertaste.
First, there is ‘The Campaign’, a novel by Donald Shinn. Who’s he? Never heard of him? Not surprising; he’s one of us, an aspiring writer not yet discovered.
The storyline is about the travails of a small advertizing company that hits the big time, and big time problems. Dull, you think? No, hilarious. The small cast of characters is cleverly introduced as the plot develops, a memorable and generally likeable group that you come to empathize with very quickly. My favorite is Sarah, a clever, competent, politically way-beyond-incorrect natural leader; my next favorite is Mr Pinkie, a prize pig from Hollywood. While the comedy runs, the author also contrives to include some penetrating insights as to how real people actually behave in a modern creative office environment. I learned a lot while I laughed. An intelligent teenager or even middle grader might also enjoy this book as a real-world alternative to fantasies or violence-ridden adventure stories, since the book is ‘adult’ in the best sense of the word – no sex, violence, drugs, bad language, simply adults in the working world dealing with each other and with things that go wrong.
I reserve five-star ratings for works of near-genius – reincarnations of Mark Twain or Hemingway would qualify. THE CAMPAIGN comes very close, fully deserves four stars. I look forward to another book from Donald Shinn in due course.
The second book is titled ‘The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid’ by Mary Walters and John Aragon. This is a must-read for those who remember enjoying Western movies, for those who love high comedy, for those who like to see the virtuous underdogs overcome black-hatted black-hearted villains and for those who appreciate a clever parody of ‘Don Quixote’. The story, set in New Mexico a hundred or so years ago, leaps to life in the first few pages, twists and turns with a glorious medley of colorful and unexpected characters, and ends well. The aged Don Valiente, imagining himself as the last of the knight-errant gunslingers, destined to preserve the ‘Code of the West’, shows great wisdom as he drags the non-conventional Apache Canyon Kid from one hilarious adventure to the next; while the Kid comes of age in a week. The highlight that sticks in my memory is the chapter in which the State Governor’s wife flaunts and then loses her glorious new hat; wonderful desriptions, wonderful characterization, great parody of Cervantes’ golden helmet story. Highly recommended entertainment, this was the best beach book for my summer. I only wish it had been longer, or left room for a sequel.
Both books available as paperbacks or kindlebooks from Amazon.
Copyright 2016 Flight of Eagles