Friday, August 12, 2011

The Darkness Within (It's funny, right?)

There is something dark inside every human being--a twisted attraction the macabre. We cannot help but slow down ever so slightly as we pass a gnarled car wreck. We cannot help but congregate in large audiences around a structure which has caught fire and watch with morbid fixation as it burns to the ground. We live in a society of ambulance chasers and so many police-procedural television dramas which chronicle the deeds of the very worst sort of person.

There are a small number of people among us who have taken full possession of this innate human darkness. They are writers like Chuck Palanhiuk and Neil Gaiman. Their writing capitalizes on this gruesome enthusiasm we all (to some extent) secretly share. They cast it out into the open and poke it with a stick. The result is sometimes uncomfortable, and almost always hilarious.

I can personally recommend Jeanette Winterson with a great deal of genuine eagerness. Her writing is whimsical with an ethereal quality I've never before come across, particularly with consideration to the dark subject matter towards which she gravitates. I recently read Lighthousekeeping, which chronicles the life of an orphaned Scottish girl living in a small, antiquated seaside village. It narrates the obstacles facing she and her lopsided terrier Dogjim and their quest for survival (perhaps even happiness) despite the overwhelming odds.

Here are some other staff picks which explore the darker side of funny:

1 comment:

David Whittingham said...

When I first read Jeanette Winterson's "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" I laughed out loud. I felt I had found a kindred spirit to my dark cynical irreverant sense of humor. I read several of her other books they were good to (though not as dark or funny). I will have to try Lighthousekeeping. And to jump mediums, anyone who likes dark humor must watch Harold and Maude. It defines dark humor.

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