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Well, this year I am celebrating ridiculousness by giving copies of The Stench of Honolulu, by Jack Handey, to pretty much everyone I know. It's a perfect Christmas book, on account of the fact that it can be read in one sitting (on Christmas afternoon itself, perhaps) and because it will reduce absolutely any reader of any age or background to fits of crazed laughter. Lots of books try to be funny, but this absurd, frenzied romp of a fake action-adventure mystery tale is funny on every single page. In fact, it is usually funny in every single sentence. It's as funny as a perfect Simpson's episode — that fast, that stupid, that awesome, that cartoonish.
When I read The Stench of Honolulu for the first time this summer, I was laughing so hard that I kept jumping up and reading bits of it aloud to my husband, who would also burst out laughing. My husband then decided to read the book for himself, which meant that he kept jumping up and reading bits of it aloud to me — and even though I had just read those exact same passages to him only THE DAY BEFORE, I didn't care, and kept laughing anyhow. Which either means that I am losing my mind or that Jack Handey is a mad genius. (I hope Jack Handey is a mad genius.)
You know what? People don't really want to read big, important, serious books at Christmas. The holidays are stressful enough. So make people happy. Give them The Stench of Honolulu.
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Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Her short story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her novel, Stern Men, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her 2002 book, The Last American Man, was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which has been published in more than 30 languages. Her latest book is The Signature of All Things. In 2008, Time magazine named Gilbert one of the most influential people in the world.
Books mentioned in this post
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of The Signature of All Things