It amazes me that Dave Barry never seems to run out of subjects to satirize, but it amazes me even more that even after writing so many books and so m...moreIt amazes me that Dave Barry never seems to run out of subjects to satirize, but it amazes me even more that even after writing so many books and so many columns, he is still so hilariously funny. He never seems to repeat jokes, and his brand of witty-yet-sophomoric humour never gets old.
In this book, Barry turns to the subject of money, offering advice on how to get some that will, I'll warn, get you killed or arrested should you actually follow it. Underlying all of it is the basic joke that our society revolves around something so utterly meaningless- "Fort Know could be full of Cheez Whiz, for all you know!" he exclaims. Still, Barry has adopted the same persona he uses in all his "advice" books- that of an underqualified hack trying to make money by giving bad advice. This too somehow never gets old.
Barry frequently wanders off onto tangents too, something that would annoy me with most authors- but he makes it work, partly by wandering away from the original subject with such skill that you barely notice it's happening, and partly because these tangents are always very funny- a tongue-in-cheek summary of Donald Trump's book of financial advice is one of the best parts of the book.
Dave Barry is one of the best humourists in America, and "Money Secrets" definitely matches up to his usual standards. It's a great read. (less)
Sometimes, you pick up a book expecting just a light read, something to do between the Great Works of Literature you've been meaning to get around to,...moreSometimes, you pick up a book expecting just a light read, something to do between the Great Works of Literature you've been meaning to get around to, and you get to be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the book you've just picked up is one of the best (recent written) ones that you've read in a long time. I had the pleasure of having that experience with "Rockville Pike".
"Rockville Pike" was a great novel. It was funny, it was touching, and moreover, the author had obviously put a great deal of thought into the world of the novel. This isn't something you tend to think of realistic fiction authors as doing- after all, they get OUR world to play with, don't they?- but I think it is something that the best realistic fiction authors do. With the right combination of characters, setting, and tone, you can create for yourself a place and time that could easily exist in real life, yet which still stand out, making the book more than a mundane chronicle of something that could happen to anyone, but a miniature universe all by itself. The vaguely absurdist Rockville Pike, where everybody knows each other's business but nothing is quite as it seems, certaintly qualifies as that.
On top of which, well, Susan Coll is just a really great writer. I fell in love with her prose, and her postmodern style of referencing literary tropes, and her sly, dark sense of humour.
The only thing about the book I had a problem with was the character of Delia, who seemed confusing, unneeded, and rife with unfortunate implications. (I could get into that, but I won't.) If not for that subplot, I would have given the novel five stars. I loved it. (less)