Read by The Authors with Mark Thompson, Sean Kenin and Orlagh Cassidy
Length: 7 Hrs
Genre: Comic Thriller
Quick Thoughts: Lunatics is full of just the sort of potty humor, and socially irreverent commentary that seems to keep me in stitches and even if two thirds of the jokes don’t land, you still will be laughing your ass off for a large part of the tale. By the end of the tale, despite the obnoxiousness of the two reluctant heroes, you can’t help but find a small soft spot in your heart for them.
I think you can tell a lot about people based on their sense of humor. I consider myself a connoisseur of comedy. I like to think of myself as witty and urbane, loving the cleverness of a well told anecdote. I enjoy comedy of all stripes from Steven Wright’s witty one liners to Jon Stewart’s political satire. Yet, I am a bit scared, if it’s OK to admit, because despite my insistence on a sophisticated pallet of comedy, what really makes me break out in loud roaring guffaws is potty humor. You see, I’m a relatively well read 30 something, who can’t control his quaking innards when Sarah Silverman sings songs about poop. I’m not sure what that says about me. Add to that the fact that I adore irreverent humor without regards to political correctness and I worry that I will find myself soundly placed in the "cretin" category. I have been known to tell jokes that make my best friends shake their heads and plumbers walk away in disgust. What does this say about me as a person? Even in my reading, I love authors like Tim Dorsey who think up increasingly creative, and should I admit, hilarious, ways for him main character to kill people. All I can say in my own defense is that I like to laugh, and really, is it my fault that there is few things funnier than a loud fart during a quiet reflective moment at church?
Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel’s novel Lunatics is a joke a minute comic thriller involving two men whose personal vendettas towards each other lead them on an adventure of international mayhem. The story is told in alternating chapters from the point of views of pet shop owning, Prius driving solid citizen Phillip Horkman and forensic plumber and malcontent Jeffrey Peckerman. It’s pretty obvious as you listen to this tale that both authors seem to be trying to outdo the other with the outrageous situations their two characters get themselves into. This sort of improvisational story telling style isn’t new, and often leads to uneven plots but Barry and Zweibel pull it off pretty well. Now, don’t expect any sort of consistency in the plot, the story goes off in a whole bunch of weird tangents, some of which work and others that don’t but the point of this story isn’t to thrill you with complexity, but to make you laugh. And laugh you will. Lunatics is full of just the sort of potty humor, and socially irreverent commentary that seems to keep me in stitches and even if two thirds of the jokes don’t land, you still will be laughing your ass off for a large part of the tale. By the end of the tale, despite the obnoxiousness of the two reluctant heroes, you can’t help but find a small soft spot in your heart for them.
While I am not a fan of authors reading their own work, in this instance Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel do a masterful job bringing this adventure to life. In fact this is truly a novel you should experience in audio form. Despite the two characters being fictitious, they speak with the voices of the authors, and so much of their personalities intertwine with Barry and Zweibel. As an added bonus, the novel is interspersed with news segments using real news figures like Brian Williams and Ted Koppel. These segments were read by Mark Thompson, Sean Kenin and Orlagh Cassidy, and were very well done. In fact, when the little music interludes began to play before these segments, I just got excited for what was to come. If you are looking for a well plotted thriller full of taunt action on an international level, perhaps the authors could make you some recommendations that are not Lunatics. But if you are looking for a novel that doesn’t take itself seriously even a smidge and will make people look at you like you’re some freak as you laugh uproariously at the characters antics while riding the bus, well, Lunatics is it.
Note: Special Thanks to the good people of Penguin audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.