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The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,941 ratings  ·  388 reviews
The legendary Deep Thoughts and New Yorker humorist Jack Handey is back with his very first novel-a hilarious, absurd, far-flung adventure tale.


Are you a fan of books in which famous tourist destinations are repurposed as unlivable hellholes for no particular reason? Read on!

Jack Handey's exotic tale is full of laugh-out-loud twists and unforgettable
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Edwards
When you are reading a book by Jack Handey, and you come across a sentence such as: “The sun was like a blazing ball of fire in the sky,” you know you are witnessing genius.

Because yes, the sun literally is a blazing ball of fire in the sky, so structuring the sentence as a metaphor is ironic. But the word “fire” has connotations of heat, and with “blazing” it’s an unbearable, oppressive heat. So. Despite the irony, the description is perfect. This is also ironic. And achievable only in the cont
Aug 24, 2013 Lena rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: humor
When humor columnist Dave Barry wrote his first novel, he was caught whining, "You mean you have to have characters AND a plot?" Complain though he did, Mr. Barry actually managed to fulfill this challenge and write a pretty decent funny novel.

Jack Handey, on the other hand, didn't appear to be in the mood to work quite that hard. I suppose this book has the scaffolding of a plot, and it is upon this scaffolding that Mr. Handey hangs his relentless 1-3 line jokes.

I could forgive this lack of li
Nate Q
Dry. Incoherent. Hilarious. It's basically Deep Thoughts crammed into a flimsy plot. I love his stuff, but I could only take so much at a time due to dryness desensitization. Then I'd come back to it and it was hilarious again. So a 3.5 * rounded up. His tone is hysterical, and I could definitely see re-listening to this in the future.
Leslie Langtry
A word of warning – do not read this book while wearing a clay facial mask. You’ll just crack it up, rendering it useless and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

That said, DO read this book (preferably without any substance of any sort on your face of course). If you are like me – you loved Jack Handey’s ‘DEEP THOUGHTS’ on Saturday Night Live – sometime in the past (if you are like me, you don’t remember much before yesterday – in which case that is sad and you should probably see a doctor
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oh my. I can’t remember reading a book like this in a long, long time. Completely and totally silly book for grownups. Not that the plot is important in this silly book, but I suppose I must at least tell you a little. Let’s see. Our main character and his friend need to get out of town, visit a travel agent, and learn of a mysterious treasure map. Soon they are off in search of the Golden Monkey.

It’s quite silly, more silly than I can really say, and that’s the charm of it. Don’t go looking for
this book was funny at least 10 times on every page.
i will put this book on my shelf right next to "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy"
Jack Handy is a Genius
The great thing about The Stench of Honolulu is that it reads just like "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey". The disappointing thing about The Stench of Honolulu is that reads just like "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey".

I'd always loved the absurdist humor of the old "Deep Thoughts" bits on Saturday Night Live, so when I saw the recent New York Times profile of Handey (in which I learned - how did I miss that for 20 years? - that Handey wasn't a character but an actual writer) and mention of his new no
One of the silliest, most joyfully goofy books I've ever read. I laughed out loud several times reading this (not on EVERY PAGE, as the lunatic Ian Frazier says in his pull quote on the front cover. You ok, Ian?), and was pleasantly surprised at how much enjoyed a book that only has the merest semblance of a plot.

I love the dry, bold idiot of a main character Handey has created here (known only to us as "Wrong Way Slurps," a name he made up for himself) and the completely brash way he treats hi
I didn't like Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. It's neat, but it worked too hard to be neat, you know? House of Leaves is like those kids in high school who clomp around with black lipstick or capes or tails sewn into their pants. "Deal with my weirdness," they scream with their outfits, made up of pieces hijacked from one trip to an anime convention or a Google image search of "David Bowie hot." These kids (and House of Leaves) desperately want to be appreciated for their uniqueness; they ...more
Some critics have criticized Jack Handy's first novel for being skimpy. Their ignorance is forgivable. Consider. Some descriptions are minimalist, e.g. "He sat down and pondered," while others are maximalist, e.g. "Carefully choosing a chair of exotic woods, silver and gilt, of the sort André-Charles Boullé made for the Sun King, he lowered himself arthritically into it and, as it creaked slightly at his weight, wondered with what treatment the artisan had finished the wood." Handey has become r ...more
Don Gorman
(1 1/2) Maybe I was in a grumpy mood, maybe I was just not into abjectly silly material, I certainly know I will never trust Judd Apatow's recommendations for the funniest books on the planet ever again. I smiled once or twice at a few references in this very short read, but laugh out loud? Not even close. Ridiculous the whole way through (absolutely on purpose). I am glad that Handey was so entertaining on SNL but this is a farce. Luckily it only wasted an hour or so of my time. On to better th ...more
Yes, Jack Handy is a person. Non-comic writer nerds remember "Deep Thoughts" on SNL, but those in the know remember him as the creator of Toonces the driving cat and many other weird SNL sketches that usually went over people's heads.

This book is a lot like if you took a bunch of Deep Thoughts one-liners and smashed them together in a novel. It's a very pure form of absurdity that is sure to make a small percentage of people appreciate Handy's true genius, and completely alienate the other 90-so
Not much here in terms of plot, character development, or anything else you probably ought to look for in a good story. But if a book makes me laugh this much out loud I just can't help but give it 5 stars. Such a fun read. I was embarrassed to read it in public, because I didn't want to look like a nut constantly laughing at the adventures of Wrong Way Slurps.

In the jungle you come to realize that death is a part of life. The bat eats the moth. Then the giant moth sucks the life out of the bat.
A ludicrous little book. If you wondered how Jack Handey might handle the transition from the one-liners of Deep Thoughts to the long form of a novel, the answer is that he doesn't even try. This is a pile of loosely connected jokes and quips, and as such, it's old-timey comedy-writing few people bother with anymore.

But what jokes and quips they are. The opening line alone would be a stage classic, and while not all that follows is A material, there's just so much of it, it adds up to a nonstop
Jack Handey helped shape my sense of humor as a young teenager- he has a way of distilling the absurd and grotesque in the world into brilliant little comic nuggets and hypothetical situations. In The Stench of Honolulu, he demonstrates the entertainment value of a protagonist who is high on self-importance and low on self-awareness (or any sort of reasonable perspective, really). The story is loose, but that's kind of the point. It's a forum for one liners and ridiculous set-ups starring the in ...more
Let me start by saying that I've never found Jack Handey funny. Some of his one-line quotes have been amusing, but that's about as far as I'd go. However, when I recently started searching for humourous fiction, this book came up so I checked it out of the library. I actually chuckled at the first paragraph and by the end of the first chapter I thought that maybe Handey had been able to write a humourous novel. Unfortunately, the book didn't just go downhill from there, it drove off a cliff and ...more
Lori (Lara Britt) Sailiata
Since I've been hanging around writerly types, I've made a categorical decision to give all books I finish at least three stars. There are plenty of books that I don't finish because life is too short. If this book hadn't been so short, it would have no doubt fit into that category. I refuse to give less than three stars, so this book is not starred.

I get it. If you are a die-hard Jack Handey/SNL fan, you may dismiss my disappointment as my not being hip enough to understand the genius of his h
There's not much I can say about The Stench of Honolulu that hasn't already been said here or elsewhere: this is a barrage of surreal, absurd, and dark jokes hung upon the shoddiest of plots. The majority of the jokes are damn funny, yet often so many of them involve the pathologically ironic detachment of the narrator: laughing when such-and-such happens or not reacting when another such-and-such happens. There are some jokes, for what it's worth, that read like "more than jokes" to me. For som ...more
Chalk up another book recommendation to NPR. If they got commission for recommendations, then they’d probably have at least 5¢ worth from me (that translates to about .00342 seconds less of their fundraising drives … you’re welcome).

The beauty of Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts is his mastery of humor with conciseness before Twitter had ever been invented. (And the quality of them, in retrospect, after Twitter.) Each thought is carefully constructed, in a non-sensical way, to deliver the most punch
Nathaniel Darkish
Some types of humor just don't translate to other media. That's why a lot of sitcoms based on stand up routines fall flat, or, in this case, why a humorous narrative written by a guy who is good at one-liner jokes fails at being funny. Simply, the humor style of Deep Thoughts-- which have elicited hours of laughter from me, mind you-- doesn't work in the context of a story.

The first couple of pages elicited laughter from me because I saw a few clever lines that would have been fun Deep Thoughts.
Jan 11, 2014 Renee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: wcls
If you know Jack Handey of SNL's Deep Thoughts then you know what you're getting into. If you don't, then you're in for a nonsensical, funny, absurd read.

I'm not a laugh-out-loud kinda person I never, EVER, use 'LOL'. But I had some close calls reading this one.
Katie Tatton
The Stench of Honolulu is the flimsy plot line of Jack Handey (yes, that Jack Handey of Deep Thoughts fame) used to tell goofy, dry, out-there, hysterically silly jokes. The book is almost painful in its awkwardness, but more than once I laughed out loud (while in the waiting room of the mechanic with several strangers close by), which redeemed it significantly.

"Doctor Ponzari was seated at a table in his flower garden. As soon as I saw him I could tell that he was pure evil. I've only had that
This book was absolutely perfect: a completely unsympathetic and totally unreliable narrator. No real plot, no pathos. Just dumb joke after dumb joke, one after another, ceaselessly.

When I read the excerpt on Amazon, I was laughing so hard I was crying. And then I realized that I was just crying - which made me laugh again but also terrified me.

I can't give any higher recommendation than that.
Nico Ager
The sheer fact that Jack Handey wrote a novel should be enough reason to read this. The idea is simple...I think. Two friends go on a high stakes adventure to retrieve a priceless artifact from Honolulu, a smelly, filthy island of savage creatures and unspeakable horrors.

For the first 100 pages or so, this book bordered on comic genius. It's an almost never ending onslaught of absurdity that inevitably will make you question almost everything you know to be true about the nature of reality. I gu
Bill Brown
If you like Jack Handey, you'll love this book. I think "What I'd Say to the Martians" is far funnier (possibly the funniest book I've ever read) but any doubts I had about Handey's ability to do a novel are gone.

It's absurd but the humor is rich, simple, and rife. I got this last night due to a preorder and I'm already done—it's that good!
I'm certainly a fan of humorous/surrealist writing. Some of my favorite novels and short stories were written by the likes of Mark Leyner and George Saunders (the latter of whom writes the main back-cover blurb for The Stench of Honolulu). You probably see where this is going.

The Stench of Honolulu was definitely a fun read, although most of Handey's jokes were too simple, pandering, or trite to be satisfying enough. And the joke density is so high that it was kind of difficult for me to appreci
I love Jack Handey. This is not Literature. This is just an extremely funny book which I read in a day. I know many Deep Thoughts by heart, like:

"The face of a child can say so much, especially the mouth part of the face."


"Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be over here, going through your stuff."

If you don't think these are funny, don't pick up this book. Period. However, those who do like this brand of humor should find this novella hilarious. The main character has a c
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Indudablemente, las personas somos animales de costumbres. Las costumbres nos dan seguridad y por ello las realizamos, para tener estabilidad en nuestras vidas.
Una de las costumbres que he adoptado al cambiar el año es leer en enero los regalos de reyes y los premios literarios que el gran Jonatan Sark pone en su blog. En los dos últimos años ha puesto una categoría en inglés “Golden Sark” que es, desde luego interesantísima, como de costumbre
Mark Russell
This isn't a novel so much as a 200 page running joke. It's a truly singular accomplishment by one of the greatest comedy writers in history. You'll laugh. Then shake your head in awe. Then laugh. Then shake your head in awe. And then you'll probably watch some TV.
Matt Willem
It blew my mind when I discovered Jack Handey, to hwom the famous Saturday Night Live aphorism series was attributed, was the actual comedy writer and not a fictitious character. The name's a little too perfect for the style. Read this back to back with the very similar _Into Hot Air_ by another SNL alum, Chris Elliot. Both parodies of epic adventure novels with first person comic moron narrators. Handey stands out for his economy of language. He really gets in and outta there. Much less dross t ...more
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Jack Handey is an American humorist. He is best known for his Deep Thoughts, a large body of surrealistic one-liner jokes, as well as his "Fuzzy Memories" and "My Big Thick Novel" shorts. Many people have the false impression that Jack Handey is not an actual person, but a character created by Saturday Night Live or a pen name used by National Lampoon.
More about Jack Handey...
Deep Thoughts What I'd Say to the Martians and Other Veiled Threats Deepest Thoughts: So Deep They Squeak Deeper Thoughts: All New, All Crispy The Lost Deep Thoughts: Don't Fight the Deepness

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