Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Three: Yay Humor

For a minute, I thought this was book five for the year, but no. That's my sock count. Considering it takes around thirty hours to knit a pair of sock and about five hours to read a book (according to my Kindle reading speed thing), what does that say about how I spend my time?

Anyway. In my search for Fforde-esque funnies, I found Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Success! Something that amused me!
Equipment for ghost hunters: thermal underwear, very important; warm coat; thermos flask; patience; ghost. (p24)
The blurb on the front says something about it's what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz, but no.
‘So magic is real,’ I said. ‘Which makes you a … what?’
‘A wizard.’
‘Like Harry Potter?’
Nightingale sighed. ‘No,’ he said, ‘not like Harry Potter.’
‘In what way?’
‘I’m not a fictional character,’ said Nightingale. (p39)
I mean, yes wizards and yes England. But otherwise no. While I liked Harry Potter, it didn't strike me as funny. Fantastical, adventurous, and (later) dark, yes. Funny? No. But this book amused me - riots, face-explosions, murders and all.
Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn’t me. It could have been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that, right then and there, Lesley and I were the only coppers on the scene, and the public doesn’t like it when the police start screaming: it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to public calm. (p134)
Not to say that this book was focused on humor. It's a ghostly murder mystery with some river-related diplomacy thrown in, it just has an amusing outlook. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Of course, there are only four books in the series, which means it won't be too long before I'm on the hunt again for some Fforde-ish like amusement. Maybe I just need to focus the hunt on British authors - Fforde is British (but then so is Robert Rankin and I was unable to finish the one book of his I attempted to read). And British-ness does come with one (personal) negative, which is the only reason I wasn't able to fully love Aaronvitch's book: sometimes I just had no clue what he was talking about.

With my past travels and interacting with folks that learned British English (vs American English) as their second language, I think I'm pretty good about understanding British-isms. Okay, okay, so the time I read the UK edition of the third Harry Potter book, I did have a bit where I couldn't figure out how Harry's torch didn't set the bedsheets on fire as he used it to read under the covers, but I figured "eh, wizard". I did eventually clue in and, since then, have been much more in the know thanks to regular exposure to things like Sherlock, Cabin Pressure, Top Gear and other British goodies. But when name brands are used or specific grocery chains are named, I just don't get the related subtext. So there were a fair number of these moments that left me a bit out of the loop. (And I probably would have gotten the big mystery more if my exposure to Punch and Judy existed outside of brief allusions to them in other movies.)

Also, I had to look up what the heck a groundnut was. (Most of the internet agrees that it is a peanut.)

So yes, thumbs up for fun books! Pretty sure Moon Over Soho is next.


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