There are entirely too many lesfic books that have been published, are being published, and are soon to be published to always write a full blown review for each one. I thought I’d try something a little different and provide a bunch of quick recommendations and reviews grouped by sub-genre. There are some older books as well as more recent ones – so hopefully there will be something new for everyone as well as reminders of old favourites that should be re-read.
Most LesFic books have some degree of humour in them – just as they all seem to have some degree of romance. This roundup is going to focus on books where I felt that the authors have written some particularly funny stories – whether the characters, the plots, or the prose. There are so many kinds of humour – from satire that is clever and cutting, slapstick that is ridiculous and overblown, farce which is fast paced and borders on the absurd, to dry or wry intelligent dialogue. Some authors have mastered it while others try, but the humour seems forced, heavy-handed, and over the top. My general rule is that if the author has to explain why something is funny by explaining the context or the popular references it’s relying on, it isn’t satire – and it isn’t funny.
Humour is subjective, so what I find amusing isn’t likely to be what others will find funny. My particular taste in humour seems to be based on smart, witty characters but with a good dose of slapstick and over the top farce, without being mean-spirited. Not too much to ask for, is it?
Greetings from Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer by Mari SanGiovanni
Now this is a madcap romp that runs into the realm of farce without falling into absurdity. SanGiovanni keeps the humour and plot flowing at a great pace and it did make me laugh aloud. The narrator, Marie Santora, inherits her grandmother’s fortune and it changes her life – whether for the better is to be determined. She and her siblings decide to placate their dysfunctional family to Jamaica for a family vacation to soften them up before they tell them how the money will be divided. In the meantime, Marie finally breaks up with her cheating girlfriend and sets off to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming a screenwriter and convince her favourite actress to read the script. Marie is stalkerish (in an amusing way) in her pursuit of the actress, causing her to retreat to join her family on vacation. Of course the actress arrives at the same resort and the litany of misunderstandings, slapstick and farce goes all out. I ended up with a big grin on my face when I finished it.
They Say She Tastes Like Honey by Michelle Sawyer
This book runs on adrenaline. I mean that in a good way. It’s fast moving, funny, irreverent and unrepentant. Macy is a 40-something lesbian living in New York City where she drinks too much, sleeps around, refuses to take care of health as she bounces from crisis to crisis and makes no apologies for any of it. Despite all that, she’s endearing and funny and you just hope that she manages to pull her shit together. There is a bit of romance, where she meets a young woman who gives her the impetus to change, but the story is really more about Macy. One of the best parts of the book is the way that Sawyer has interspersed the story of her childhood as a nice counterpoint (and breathing space) as Marcy wreaks havoc in her present life.
Family Affair by Saxon Bennett
I recently read Back Talk by the same author and, although it was pretty damn funny, I think she hits her stride with Family Affair. Bennett has a deft hand with humour – her main character, Chase, is charmingly neurotic and is surrounded by a large cast of friends and family who would probably all do well to have a few sessions of therapy. This is a smart and funny story that follows Chase as she deals with impending (and unexpected) parenthood. I’m not too sure if I laughed out loud when reading this one (mostly because I read it on the bus to and from work), but it kept a smile on my face the whole time and more than once I found myself identifying with Chase.
Tats by Layce Gardner
A fun and raunchy ride. Not to be read if you’re too politically correct or have a limited sense of humour. Lee, who is entirely too easily swayed by a nice set of tits, seems to drift in and out of situations without much thought to consequence. She meets up with Viv, an ex call girl who’s on the run, and the two of tear through Tulsa, causing havoc and mayhem. I can’t summarize it because entirely too much happens and you wouldn’t believe half the stuff they get into but I dare you not to crack at least one smile (if not fall into a fit of giggles). There’s a few serious parts but overall, the book is pretty much slapstick and farce which works extremely well as Gardner managed to keep both the characters likable and endearing despite some of the antics they get up to. Great dialogue and a rapid pace makes this one a hard one to put down.
Icehole by Kiera Dellacroix
This one isn’t available in print anymore which is a damned shame. This blends science fiction, action/adventure, romance and comedy quite well. It’s also a great parody of The Thing and lesfic in general. Over the top and funny as all hell – this is a fast paced read. Isolated in a super secret military/science installation in the Antarctic, the crew discovers something rather chilling buried in the eons old ice; but, where this book shines is the irreverent (and smart-assed) characters of Quinn and Corky. This book appeals to the ten year old boy in me – Quinn is crude, rather obnoxious and single minded when it comes to pursuing Corky, but she still makes me laugh my butt off.
The Seduction of Moxie Parties in Congress Both by Colette Moody
I couldn’t pick one of these over the other. Both are smart and funny books with completely different premise and feels and both deliver some great laughs. The Seduction of Moxie is definitely a fast-paced and laugh-out-loud read. Moody nails the 30’s style screwball comedies (which I love) in both dialogue as well as farcical situations – adding a fair bit of debauchery and crudity for good measure. If you are looking for a break from the standard lesfic angst-ridden romances, I would recommend this one. Parties in Congress is another winner – this one is set in modern DC during a political campaign. Moody has a great way with dialogue and she sets up some absolutely ridiculous situations and characters that edge into the realm of farce – but I can see every situation actually happening. Her characters are smart, savvy and have a wicked sense of humour.
Jericho Dust Both by Ann McMan
Both were originally online fiction but have since been published. McMan’s books are recommended reads – Jericho being a long but well-paced romance and Dust being much more action packed with some political intrigue. Although the situations and plots are quite different, McMan has a very intelligent, humourous voice and her dialogue between the characters is smart, sassy and hilarious. I wouldn’t put these into the madcap or farce categories – the humour is character and dialogue driven.