So I've been going back and reading some of the books I've held onto for the last ten or fifteen years or so. One set I've been looking at and shying away from are my Tim Sandlin books; I have five of them and I remember them as being really funny ... but I've changed since I read them last and I was worried that I wouldn't find them as hugely entertaining as they were before.
I'm pleased to say that my anxiety on this subject was totally unfounded. I picked up Skipped Parts last night and it's hilarious - so funny that at 2am I was laughing out loud while reading it. It's the first in Sandlin's Grovont trilogy, which apparently will have a fourth book added to it. As an aside, one of those books in the trilogy is called Sorrow Floats, which I liked because the title reminds me of an phrase in John Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire. The Hotel New Hampshire is also an awesome, quirky book written by an awesome, quirky author (who unfortunately seems to have a bear and wrestling fixation). As a bigger aside, A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favourite of Irving's.
Anyways... back to Skipped Parts. It's told from the perspective of Sam, a 13-year-old boy who along with his 28-year-old mother has been banished to Grovont, Wyoming by Sam's grandfather. Sam befriends another 13-year-old girl and they start trying to figure out what the skipped sexy parts in books are.. .by practicing. Realism, sadness, and hilarity ensues.
Not only am I finding this book funny, I think it's funnier than ever because I understand and "get" so much more of it than I did before. I think this is partly because the situations in the books were and are so much worse than my life ever was, and the story is so funny that it helps me see that my own story - the most unfunny bits - could possibly be funny, too. If looked at in the right way, which I hope to someday be able to do.
Not that it matters what kind of past you have. This book (and the others by Sandlin) are well worth reading for the plot and the writing. The writing style is much like that of both J.D. Salinger and Tom Robbins - it's quirky, funny, achingly honest, and hilariously funny, all due to a lot of understatement and the juxtaposition of Sam's fantasy stories of being a hero with the realities of what happens around him. This gives the book a poignancy that feels very realistic... but also very gentle.
As well, this book, first published in 1991, uses the word "meatatarian". What's not to love?