I have just read a most absurdly excellent novel, Cintra Wilson's Colors Insulting to Nature (that's the BARGAIN Amazon price of $6.99, or else if you prefer you can get the paperback). I had vaguely heard of this when it came out without really registering it (here's a page with book review links). Then Nico e-mailed me to ask me whether I'd read it. (Nico has a very cool style-related event coming up that everyone in NY should come to if they're free that night, BTW.) I said I hadn't read it, and should I? This was his response (e-mail dated 26 Sept. 2005, quoted entirely without permission):
Jenny Oh my god. You must read it like immediately. It had never crossed my radar before ever, and a friend gave it to me for my birthday, and I started it on the train, and literally was convulsing with laughter and had to put it down. When I alighted, a man came up to me and was like, 'is that a funny book' and I couldn't even speak to tell him that it was I was laughing so hard.
Not often that happens!
This is completely and literally true. Funniest book I've read for years, funnier even than my favorite very funny books of the past year or so, Charlie Williams' Deadfolk and its sequel Fags and Lager and Anansi Boys by the #1 NYT bestselling novelist Neil Gaiman. (Terry Pratchett is also of course ridiculously funny, but this has been known for some time.)
Most of this stuff won't work being quoted out of context, so I won't. Also it's incredibly raunchy. (It's really nothing like it, but for some reason I was very much reminded of a particularly favorite novel of mine, Geek Love by my hero Katherine Dunn.) Go to the Amazon link for the plot summaries. But I don't especially like picaresque or post-modern or satirical novels so I might have been put off by those descriptions; and I would have missed out on one of my favorite books ever!
The funniest thing in the book is the series of scenes describing the Normal Family Dinner Theatre's production of The Sound of Music. This you will really just have to read for yourself; the second half of the novel gets more moving and less laugh-out-loud funny and that seems entirely suitable. But here's a random taste of the style of the prose, which may well be off-putting taken like this but is genuinely hilarious and heart-warming and painful in context.
Liza Normal and her friend Lorna get wrapped up in a theatrical project sponsored by the Cock-A-Zoids called Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! in which Joan Crawford (played by a transsexual called LaTuna Canyon) is "a nymphomaniacal motorcyle-hellcat . . . who sexually brutalized big Hollywood moguls in order to secure film roles" ("Liza's mandate was to act like she relished being beaten by her famous mother. 'Look, Mommie Dearest! I used a wire hanger to hang up my beautiful clothes again,' Christina would provoke, writhing with perversion"):
At Cape Horn, Liza and Lorna found a play zone in which everything ordinarily considered to be depraved, criminal, or depressing was hysterically funny, including them. The Cock-A-Zoids were loud and tragically amusing people, who lived action-packed crisis-fueled lives filled with squalor, drugs, betrayal, mild violence, evictions, injustice, promiscuity, theft, and vermin, glossed over with cheap makeup and clad in loud, oversize banquet-wife finery from Thrift Town. The tiny backstage area was a breeding ground for the most hair-raising gossip Liza had ever been exposed to, either in life or on television: a nonstop Tijuana opera of jealous rage provoking hypodermic stabbings, perpendicular 'T-bone' auto collisions, cosmetic surgery malfeasance, and sectional couch arson.