Friday, April 21, 2006

how i became bored

I started reading How I Became Stupid this evening. I bought it at the Co-op because it looked funny. It's not, at least not the first forty pages. It's translated from French. Maybe it's funny in French, or maybe this is more the whole French-people-have-surprisingly-unsophisticated-taste-in-humor thing, especially as it was not funny in that jokes-seem-almost-oppressively-obvious way of being not funny. Consider this passage:
The reason he would do anything rather than end up in that hospital is that he ran the risk of meeting his uncle Joseph and aunt Miranda there. Antoine was kind-natured but could not stand them; in fact, no one could stand them. It was not that they were dangerous, only that they never stopped complaining, moaning, and making a fuss about the least little thing. A group of delightful Buddhists had been reduced to joining the ranks of a paramilitary force as a result of spending too much time with them. Every time they traveled abroad they created a diplomatic incident. As a result they were forbidden to visit several countries: Israel, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States. The IRA, ETA, and Hezbollah had published bulletins stating that they would execute the couple if they set foot in their territories again. The authorities in the relevant countries said and did nothing that implied any opposition to this stance. Perhaps one day the army would have the courage to use the destructive potential of this couple and would deploy it when atomic bombs were discovered to be too ineffectual.
Anyway, you have been warned.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Take a fiction writing course and all of a sudden, you're a literary critic.

Or was it that stay at Holiday Inn?

jeremy said...

I've always been a critic of lame attempts at humor. And I don't even know what the Holiday Inn thing is supposed to mean.

astrid jane said...

I agree with you on this one, and would venture to suggest that French comedy is, in general, about as subtle as a kick to the groin. Germans also have the reputation of not really "getting" subtle humor (although I'm not sure I totally agree with that...it's more that they don't really use sarcasm the way we do and, as a consequence, tend not to understand it.)

Much of our cultural product really sucks (not to mention our system of government) but I will say that America, along with Britain and Canada, totally kicks Europe's ass in the humor department.