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Humorous Novels

Our Doris by Charles Heathcote
Diary of a Stranger by Remesh R.
The Urban Legion by Dave Agans


The Urban Legion 01The Urban Legion
by Dave Agans
I have to tell you that I almost gave up on this book in the first chapter. It seemed that every third word was ‘Zen’ and I found it really annoying (don’t really know why). HOWEVER, I persevered and I’m glad I did.
The Urban Legion is a satire that covers a wide range of topics. It could substitute as a conspiracy theory manifesto, a critique of our consumer society, or a psychological study of a sociopathic corporate executive. There are facets aplenty, and the fight between humanism and commercialism could not have found a better battleground than a shopping mall!
Food critic Lynn Grady finds herself caught up in the competition between a corporate cartel and an upstart hydroponic truffle producer, which blossoms to reveal that society’s hidden underbelly is the scene of full-scale corporate warfare. Lynn finds allies and enemies along the way, drags her own organic grocer into the fight, and discovers that her teenage daughter is in danger of becoming a pawn of the evil corporate cartels. What mom wouldn’t battle the evil empire to save her daughter?
This story is a bit of a conundrum. Are you allowed to hate the opening and love the book? The story certainly does engage; the consistent chuckles are punctuated with one or two hearty laughs, and this romp through modern society never removed its tongue from its cheek… I have to go with my gut on this one. My gut tells me that I enjoyed this book, and I should never again eat at a mall food court.
A nice light romp! Recommended.
Rating: Four Stars
Available here.

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Cover Image: Diary of a StrangerDiary of a Stranger
by Remesh R.
Review copy supplied by author.
Diary of a Stranger is a strange bird. It’s part stream of consciousness, part philosophy, part classic book review, part romance, and yes, part diary. Perhaps more than anything else, it is the tale of young man who is a bad fit for life as he understands it.
Shatrugnan is very much a loner, coasting through life, and finding joy in very little other than the occasional cigarette and knowing where to find a cheap, tasty meal. His rambling thoughts convey a sense that, far from seeking a direction in life, Shatrugnan is content to be rudderless. He sometimes fears to speak his mind to his friends and coworkers lest they view him as crazy, which he suspects is possible. The tedium of his existence is interrupted when he meets Anwesha, who becomes an obsessive object of affection.
Shatrugnan is an incompetent character, which is fine, but I found him a difficult character to like. Much of his philosophy is borrowed from past great authors and philosophers, and there is very little original character revealed beyond lethargy and obsession. If there is such a thing as a philosophical antihero, Shatrugnan may qualify.
Diary of a Stranger tends more toward the serious side of satire, although it offers some passages where bits of sarcasm and ridicule take a humorous bent. I didn’t find any LOL moments.
Rating: Three Stars
Available here.

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Cover image: Our DorisOur Doris
by Charles Heathcote
Review copy supplied by author.
Our Doris should come with a warning to avoid food and drink while reading, because if you ‘get it’, this book is sprinkled with moments that might literally choke you with laughter.
Written as a series of monologues, it introduces Our Doris, a character somewhat reminiscent of Hyacinth Bucket of the British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances, perhaps a distant cousin. Our Doris is spawned with the same devilishly-haughty mix of faux-superiority and the assumption of perfect manners, a blend which transforms an ordinary high maintenance woman into walking purgatory. The tale is told in the voice of Doris’ husband, Our Harold, a paragon of forbearance not without his own quirks. The elderly pair have been married for more than fifty years, and in a different reality, you might picture Harold as being perfectly justified in calmly and honestly stating, “And that Your Honor, is why I killed her.”
Our Doris is obsessed with her garden and its upcoming placement in the local garden safari, a neighborhood affair more important than national defense. Doris will go to any lengths to showcase herself as a “horticulturist visionary” and end up the winner. Naturally, she views her competition, the members of the local ladies group, as wholly unworthy of comparison with her skills, and she’s not shy about jockeying her way through the minefield of British propriety with insults and blackmail to maintain her advantage. Throughout, the saintly-patient Our Harold grudgingly assists, deftly avoids, or unashamedly warns the local lads about Doris’ manic and maniacal plans. And of course, lifelong marriage has also shown him the definitive advantages of escape through heavy drinking.
The Good: The authentic feel of this slice of British life is truly marvelous, and the laughs are genuine and liberally supplied.
The Bad: There is no correct answer when an author attempts to balance authenticity against readability for a broad audience. Our Doris is likely a fast and wonderfully easy read in Great Britain, but ‘across the pond,’ it may take a bit of googling to understand the British slang, colloquialisms, etc. that have no common reference. Naturally, some of the humor is dependent on such understanding; for example, one reference to Ben Nevis, which is a mountain, not a person. Ergo, this is not an effortless read for the author’s American cousins, but even with this caveat on readability, if you love British humor as I do, Our Doris is ‘simply lovely.’
Rating: Four Stars, and I almost feel guilty deducting one for readability.
Available here.

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