Viva Laughter!

Just what the doctor ordered!

Review by Grady Harp

Shakespeare may have coined ‘If music be the food of love, play on’ in Twelfth Night, but Woody Allen offered `I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose’ – one quote eloquent and rhapsodic, the other, well the other one applies to this exceptionally funny book by Patrick Shannon. Humor is a strange subject. We are barraged by stand up comedians who go for the fast giggle or guffaw; we are entertained by slowly unwinding novels that keep humor as the thread of connection. But then along comes Patrick Shannon with a book full of stories, short and long, that go where humor is supposed to take us – laughing at our own embarrassing foibles as they relate to other peoples stories and the result is laughter from the gut.

This review read his previous book and reported the following: ‘Patrick Shannon in his LETTERS FROM WHEATFIELD walks that fine line between gentle humor and parody. And in this instance he comes out on the top of the heap…. It is this honest tenderness, the non-judgmental flow with which Shannon pulls off this delightful glance into the heart of this country. Smacks a bit of Mark Twain – humorous, tongue in cheek honest, and entertaining.’ All that holds true in referencing this current volume VIVA LAUGHTER!, but this time instead of his examining the heartland of America he ventures out a bit and the stories are even more successful.

He opens this collection with a treasure – ‘A Tissue of Lies’ in which we get a glimpse of how the intelligence agencies work when they assign a dyslexic Davood Talasazan on a Code Decipherment mission. Then a bit later we are treated to a re-thought biblical account of the Old Testament in the ‘Secrets of the Dead Fish Scrolls’ and, hold nothing sacred, he later offers ‘William Shakespeare The Early Years’ with a toss at three blind mice and Rambo and Juliet. Then of course US politics takes the brunt in ‘The Radical Right’s Worst Nightmare’ with Wolf Blitzer and Karl Rove and the Kopfschrinker Clinic as the key elements.

The stories vary in length – depending on how stable and exercised you abdominal muscles engaged in laughing can tolerate. But there are a couple of quickies at books end – ‘My Bucket List’ (a brilliant salute to the aging mind) and ‘Life Trip’ which shouldn’t be shared as to theme: save that for private glee. This is a volume of stories to read and read again and share. ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ – I’m sure Somebody said that…

Grady Harp, April 2013

TITLE: VIVA LAUGHTER!
AUTHOR: PATRICK SHANNON
PUBLISHER: OUTSKIRTS PRESS
ISBN: 9781478711025

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