Mini-Reviews: Cold Comfort Farm, The Loved One, Unlikely Destinations

144. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Publication: Penguin (Non-Classics) (April 1, 1996), Paperback, 240pp / ISBN 0140258132
Genre: Fiction, Humor (Satire)
Rating:
Read: July 2010
Source: Library

Review

Much more fun than I thought it’d be! I loved the satire of Victorian gothic novels, and the story was so much fun and the writing so good that I had a grand time reading it. I mean, it starts off introducing a lady who collects bras! As soon as I read that I knew it’d be a wonderful book. The only thing I didn’t get was the ending– why did Flora marry Charles and get all mushy? It seemed so different from the rest of the book that I guess it threw me for a loop, and so I didn’t end Cold Comfort Farm with the same feelings as I started it. I’d still recommend it for people wanting something fun to read, though!

145. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
Publication: Back Bay Books (September 1999), Paperback, 164pp / ISBN 0316926086
Genre: Fiction, Humor (Satire)
Rating:
Read: July 2010
Source: Library

Review

Evelyn Waugh’s humor is just not my cup of tea. My prof (the one who taught the humor class I read this for) said that when Waugh was younger he decided that life wasn’t worth living and so walked into the sea in order to drown himself. He was promptly stung by a jellyfish and he ran out again feeling worse than ever, but decided to renege on the who suicide thing. I have no idea if that story is true, but if it is it certainly explains some things about his sense of humor.

The Loved One made me very uncomfortable, partly because it deals with death and the people who make it their business– funeral parlors– and that’s always an uncomfortable subject, but I was also uncomfortable also because none of the characters are likable and everyone’s horrid. I did understand that it was a black comedy and that it was making fun of the worst of humanity, including funeral homes, Hollywood, the colonial attitudes of the British oldsters, and the danger of making a religion out of pop culture. But I suppose I just don’t think black comedy is that funny.

(I can’t remember if anyone in the class liked The Loved One. I think we were all a bit shell-shocked. Waugh is a tough author to read; he’s very bitter and doesn’t seem like he was all that pleasant a person. It shows in his writing.)

146. Unlikely Destinations by Tony & Maureen Wheeler
Publication: Periplus Editions (May 15, 2007), Paperback, 416pp / ISBN 0794605230
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir
Rating:
Read: July 2010
Source: Library

Review

I liked how the Wheelers described their journey from hippie indie publishers to mega-corporation, and I liked the little bits about the traveling they did during the 1970s, because it’s so different from how people travel today and I find that really interesting. But the whole book reeked of “just because I’m big business doesn’t mean I’m bad, really I’m still hip and cool! Don’t run away, original consumer base aka hippies and college students!” and I hate that kind of pandering. It left a bad taste in my mouth, honestly.

Also, I didn’t like how they obviously worked hard and were extremely clever in picking up on a thing (guidebooks) and running with it in a way that made them super successful, but then refused to actually acknowledge that. Instead they insisted that they were just in the right place at the right time, and that they were extremely lucky. And I’m sure they were lucky– the timing on when they started publishing guidebooks and when world travel took off with the masses was an enormously lucky coincidence– but I wish they would have actually said that they worked hard, were good at business, and that it’s not a bad thing. You can’t pretend that you’re still hippies at heart who hate big business because you ARE big business now, Wheelers! If you had just embraced that I would have had MUCH more respect for you and your work than I do now, after reading this ode to douche baggery. Now I don’t even want to LOOK at a Lonely Planet guidebook, let alone read one. The taint is too much!

And don’t even get me started on Tony Wheeler’s whole thing about how everything was so much simpler when they didn’t have contracts with their employees and barely even paid them and COME ON.

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9 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: Cold Comfort Farm, The Loved One, Unlikely Destinations”

    1. See, I really do think it’s because I just don’t get dark humor. The closest I ever got was with the show Dead Like Me, and even then I didn’t get a lot of the more depressing jokes. I suppose I’m just more a physical comedy/witty quips sort of person. 😀

    1. Hippies that’ve turned into yuppies but pretend to still be hippies drive me up the wall! I wish they would just acknowledge that they aren’t hippies anymore; it’d bring me much less frustration. 😛

  1. There’s some black comedy that I enjoy a lot, but it does depend on being able to find at least one likable character, and preferably more. I have four or five Evelyn Waugh books that I got at a garage sale because they match, but I don’t have high hopes for him.

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