Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kumquat by Jeff Strand

I don't know that I've ever read a romantic comedy before.

Yet, that's what this is.

If someone had told me that I might one day like such a thing, I'd have said that it was possible but doubtful. I don't read romance. I don't much care for romcoms on film. I'm pretty picky about comedies, especially on the printed page.

So, why did I read this?

Because I saw that Jeff Strand was giving away ARCs on his website for a forthcoming book, and I've liked what I've read by him so far.

When I found out it wasn't horror, that it was a quirky road trip story, I still decided to give it a go because Strand had proven to me that we had compatible comic sensibilities in Dweller.

Was the romance in the book handled well? Was it successful in that way? I mean the guy writes horror for heaven's sake???

I guess so.

I don't know.


Sort of.

It didn't feel like a mushy love story. To me, that makes it good. But don't ask me. I don't really know anything about it.

Was it funny?

Yes. I thought it was funny.

You might not.

Funny is so subjective, especially on the page. And funny is so much harder to do in any medium. It really takes an innate talent, along with skill, to pull it off. And even then, you're only going to be successful with those humans with a compatible sense of humor. I think a comic writer or actor can be trained to pull off a successful drama. But I really don't believe it's possible the other way around. You can't teach the kind of broken required for someone to be funny. And, in my mind, Jeff Strand is broken in just such a way that he's able to produce books that I find funny.

The humor in Kumquat more often than not rises naturally from the situation. The characters aren't comedians in disguise throwing off one-liners at every turn. He doesn't use pop-culture references as a cheap humor substitute. Best of all, his writing doesn't come off as 'jokey.'

I hate 'jokey.'

There is an undercurrent of darkness, too, that I like. The horror of sudden, unexpected oblivion underscores the humor in this book and keeps it from seeming frivolous.

Is this a romantic comedy or is it a satire of the romantic tales of doomed lovers that have made Jonathan Sparks a wealthy man? I don't know. Maybe it's both.

What I do know is that I found the novel funny.

Oh, and it remains funny throughout, whereas many comedic tales tend to lose the funny when the plot kicks in.

Recommended to people who find the things I find funny funny.

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