Take Two

So it seems this post may show up twice, as I still have NO idea where it went the first time I posted, but here goes…

A little while ago, I created a contest on Erin Blakemore’s blog and asked her readers to tell me about female authors they find funny and why. The prize was a signed copy of my book and a guest post on my blog. Our winner, Rebecca, has a pretty darn cool blog of her own, so it’s great to give her some extra exposure.

Here’s her entry. What about this rings true to you? And while we’re on the subject, who are your favorite funny females- both in literature and in life?

As I get older, and become better acquainted with myself, I can better understand Elizabeth Bennett’s ‘confession’ in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice: “I dearly love to laugh.” I can understand it, because I relate to it – like Lizzie, I appreciate a good laugh. Not the silly variety of laughter that the younger Bennett sisters indulge in, but a humor that relies on wit and intelligence – the subtle hilarity of a well-played phrase or sometimes-smart alecky repartee. I grew up surrounded by aunts and uncles who delighted in wordplay and hilarious hijinks. (We’re talking laugh until you cry at their ‘acts’/characters). I’ve been laughing since I was born, and consider it a job well done if a story I relate brings a chuckle (or, better yet, a full-on belly laugh). It’s so much easier to tell a funny story than write one though – probably because we have so many other tools for the telling: facial expressions and body movements, voice inflections, all of these add to a story – but cannot be captured on the page quite the same.

When I find a book that makes me laugh, I’m ecstatic! Television or movies can make me laugh with a dose of slapstick, but for a book to make me laugh – especially laugh out loud – there’s got to be something ‘more’.  When I was little, my hands-down favorite book to have read to me was Go Dogs, Go! – my parents would give the dogs different voices, and I never failed to collapse into giggles. (I still occasionally trot out my favorite line: “Do you like my party hat?”) As an early elementary student, I was mesmerized by the events and happenings in The Lady with the Ship on her Head – this was probably my first introduction to a more mature humor. (‘Mature’ in that it required understanding beyond the words on the page, not in terms of content). From those picture book beginnings, I’ve grown into a reader who delights in stories with well-penned characters who make me laugh because they’re real, because I recognize them – maybe even know them. I’ve discovered that the authors who most successfully make me laugh are women – from Jane Austen to Sophie Kinsella, and any number in between. I believe this is probably a result of the female tendency to be more in-tune with and observant of peoples’ emotions and the things left unspoken. Women writers tend to flesh out their characters in a way that makes them live and breathe – and so their stories easily translate into the real world of the reader.

And perhaps that is the secret of humor: does it ring true to the hearer? Does my anecdote resonate with your experience? Can you see yourself in this position, and can you laugh with me? Will you?

Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (11)  

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  1. Just read your article in the Daily Mail You magasine and loved it. I live in the UK. I have read to my 5 year old son every night since he was about 2. He loves it and we are currently going through a Roald Dahl period! I was thinking of making a list of every book we read for him to look back on when he is older. Did you and your Dad list all your books?

    Just found you on twitter too

    Can’t wait to order your book

    • There’s a list in the back of the book!

  2. Hi Alice!
    Two of my favorites: Erma Bombeck and Judith Viorst,
    my favorite that I know personally, my neighbor,
    Deborah Dahl—she can go from a Mafioso to a southern
    belle in a split second!

    Happy Memorial Day to you and your Dad, Alice!

    • An author for a neighbor- that sounds fun!

  3. I just finished reading “The Reading Promise”. As I was reading, I recommended it to my “drivers” in my cardiac rehab class. I will now buy a copy and give it to Mrs. Pierce, a kindergarten teacher at Lulu Walker Elementary School in Tucson, AZ. I have been reading to her class this year and plan to do the same in the coming year. I read to my grandchildren and now read to my great grandchildren. (I came to these precious beings by way of marrying someone who had children.) I have always loved to read as did my three sisters and one of my brothers. Another brother and I talk about the books we read and occasionally swap books long distance, he in Missouri and me in Arizona. Thank you for writing about your father and The Streak. I cannot remember when I have enjoyed a book more.

    • “I cannot remember when I have enjoyed a book more.”
      Wow- what a thing for an author to hear! Thanks, Lela!

      • I felt exactly the same way after reading it, Alice.

  4. Hi Alice,

    I am in the middle of your book and just found your blog. My husband saw your CBS profile and I immediately went to our library to pick up your book. It is comforting to know there are other parents (like your father) that love reading to their children. I have three children (ages 10, 8 and 6) and we read almost every night together. Our favorite female author hands down has been Edith Nesbit – her story “The Wouldbegoods” is perfect for reading aloud and guarantees laughs (although we have read it many times). Your book has provided me a list of books to read with my daughter – thank you!!! I also wanted to thank your father for his service as a librarian – we are at our local library each week. Although hours have been reduced due to budget cuts, we are thankful for the ability to borrow the books but keep the knowledge – the library provides our family a rich source of imagination, vacation, history and cultural experiences that we could not otherwise afford. I have recommended your book to our local book club and tell everyone that will lend me an ear. Your story is such an inspiration – thank you for sharing!!

    • Michele- I’ve never heard of the Wouldbegoods but I will definitely check it out! Thanks for the tip!

      • We found Edith Nesbit after my 10 year old and I started reading the Harry Potter series and (almost embarrassed to admit this) but it just wasn’t working for us. I did some research on J. K. Rowling and discovered that her favorite author as a child was Edith Nesbit. She deserves to be “rediscovered” – she is fabulous!!


  5. Recently read and reviewed Terry Fallis’ book Best Laid Plans
    ( http://bedsidetablebooks.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/the-best-laid-plans-plan-to-read-it/ ) It is absolutely delightful and yes, I laughed out loud. Hope you can get your hands on a copy and enjoy it too.

    Just recommended your book on my blog Bedside Table Books – yours must have been inundated! Love the premise and am impressed by your reading as well as your commitment. (http://bedsidetablebooks.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/the-reading-promise-by-alice-ozma-for-fathers-day/)

    May you enjoy your success!

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