I had previously read a few of these online, and liked them. I wanted to read the book but, with my TBR, who knows when I'd ever have gotten around to getting a copy? When Audible had this on sale for a dollar, I was interested but hesitant. How well would it translate into audio form?
Pretty well, as it turns out. One of the reasons I bought this, besides the price, was because the narrators (Zach Villa for the male parts, Amy Landon for the female) were so good. They made all the texting, even the emoticons, sound natural.
I felt iffier about the content. I preferred it when it was characters from famous works texting each other, although Ortberg took a lot of liberties with some of them. For example, the texts between Jane Eyre's Jane, Rochester, and St. John were funny while still, I felt, staying pretty true to the characters, while the texts between Sherlock and Watson, though funny, presented Sherlock as being such a cocaine fanatic he could barely be bothered to think about anything else.
Sometimes it was famous authors or philosophers texting, like Emily Dickinson, Rene Descartes, or William Blake. Those bits included what I'm assuming were direct quotes from their works, texted as though they were the thoughts and experiences they were having right at that moment. It was occasionally funny but often bizarre, and not nearly as clever as some of the texts from fictional characters.
I wish the sections hadn't been quite so mixed up. I'd have preferred it if all the Hamlet sections had been together, all the Daisy Miller, all the Great Gatsby, etc. In audio form it was difficult having to switch gears so much, especially since my knowledge of some of these people and works was often shaky or nonexistent.
All in all, this was an okay two hours and twenty minutes worth of listening. I probably wouldn't have been happy with it if I had paid Audible's member price for it, or if I had used one of my credits, but it was worth the dollar sale price.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh (or at least chuckle)
(Top Ten Tuesday concept and topic thanks to The Broke and the Bookish)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide series by Douglas Adams
The ultimate funny book. If you don’t laugh your way through these, we can’t be friends.
Emma by Jane Austen
All of Austen’s works are essentially comedies. Some are lighter and funnier than others, but Emma wins for the best use of free indirect discourse to make us laugh at Emma’s cluelessness (see what I did there?). It's also the novel that contains both Miss Bates and Mrs. Elton, two of the most ridiculous—yet believable—characters I’ve ever seen in print.
Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
Ortberg takes literary figures, real and imagined, and creates a series of text conversations that capture each character perfectly. The humor is wry and so sharp you could cut yourself. It gives you the kind of chuckles that come from being in with the inside joke.
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan is one of my favorite comedians. Dad is Fat is mostly about adventures in marriage and trying to survive five (six? I forget) children. Cutesy family comedy is not usually my style, but Gaffigan nails it with his delivery.
Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
Maybe not laugh out loud funny, but if you’ve ever been young and anxious, Andersen’s cartoons will make you chuckle in recognition.
Moranththology by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran is not “classy” and that’s why I like her. She has a great eye for absurdity and a loud, unapologetic style that makes you laugh while you cringe at the embarrassing things she (constantly) does.
Bitch in a Bonnet by Robert Rodi
Rodi captures all of the meanest, sharpest edges of Jane Austen’s writing and adds plenty of his own snark in this book dedicated to “reclaiming Jane Austen from the stiffs, the snobs, the simps and the saps.”
Rat Queens series of comics by Kurtis J. Wiebe
This series about a fearsome foursome of badass lady mercenaries manages to be hilarious and unapologetically adult without sacrificing character for laughs.
The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
It’s touted as steampunk adventure, which is true, but at it’s heart it’s a British comedy of manners that just happens to be populated with vampires, werewolves, and steam-powered whatsits.
The Bertie & Jeeves novels and stories by PG Wodehouse
The Classic of Classics in 20th century British comedy. Just like with Hitchhiker’s Guide, I can’t deal with anyone who doesn’t laugh at Bertie Wooster and his faithful Jeeves.
This book is hilarious.
The literature used is fairly diverse (Gilgamesh all the way to The Hunger Games). Some entries parody the actual book, others the author/poet, and others the characters of the book.
I think the test of a parody is if it's still funny even if you don't know the original source. There are plenty of books included that I have not read, but the texts were still very humorous. For the most part, as long as you have a basic understanding of the author or story, you can get most of the jokes.