Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: Starting from Happy by Patricia Marx

I'm starting to think that intended-to-be-funny books need to come with a series of codes on the back that indicate the type of humor involved so that I can better avoid awkward comedies of neuroses by un-funny Yankees. Try as I might, I don't find anything in that particular comedic vein (which also includes Woody Allen and David Sedaris) particularly amusing. Rather than laughing, I find myself rolling my eyes, all, "Seriously? That was a joke?"

I know that humor is largely cultural, and this may be one of the few areas in which I retain the cultural values of my upbringing (the other one is gambling: I don't do it, ever) rather than the more, uh, bougie ones I've adopted as a result of my high-fallutin' education. I wouldn't be caught dead watching NASCAR, reading an "Inspirational Fiction" novel, or owning "Red Solo Cup" in any audio format, but my sense of humor is just like that of the rest of my family's: very stereotypically Southern (if you're thinking Larry the Cable Guy, stop. 1) He's not funny. 2) He's a Yankee). You'd have to see us in action to get the gist of it, but it mostly entails incredibly cutting put-downs, sarcasm, well-timed happy hours, and, sometimes, things that could get us landed in a Jeff Foxworthy monologue, like shooting armadillos with handguns in the dark (my mom lives in Memphis, apparently it's okay to do that there) and riding a four-wheeler in flop-flops and a sundress.

Anyway. Starting From Happy.

Basically, it's a unfunny-neurotic-Yankee novel about weirdos in relationships, with drawings and obligatory self-conscious smashing of the fourth wall. It has a few amusing moments, but I mostly found it tedious. You probably won't if you're into that sort of thing. If you're still bemoaning the end of Frazier, you'll probably enjoy it.

I'll be over here, eating my fried green tomatoes and judging you.

3 out of 5 stars.

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