Recommendations on Dark/black comedy literature
September 8, 2017 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Some people cope with difficult life events with cat photos but I prefer reading parody, satire, non-fiction/fictional accounts of terrible events written in an entertaining manner.

NYC is completely depressed and I can tell every day I commute for errands and Trump doing [something] terrible right now even if he's just playing golf. My entire life is more or less imploding and burning down but I love reading and I want to read new authors.

Examples of authors I liked would be Dominick Dunne where he covers the life of the rich and chronically unhappy and his own personal family tragedies. I liked Slaughterhouse Five and I have already started to look for Vonnegut’s other books. I thought The Great Gastby was alright even thought it's not a direct satire but based on real life events. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket was a childhood favorite but it started to decline towards the final book (like all long series). Then I have tried to read his older works but I find them tiring but his non-fiction was decent.

- Still in Print
- English (British is OK but I may need some definitions for certain Britishisms)
- Well-written/researched
- Not shock value/insult humor
- Edited (blogs are fine but I shouldn't be fighting the sentences to understand the overall story)

- Any time period/country
- Female authors
- No animal abuse

Thanks, and here's to a better few months. Previously.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Try Jeanette Wall's The Glass Castle
Not a parody or satire--just a memoir.
posted by luvmywife at 1:32 PM on September 8, 2017

Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I don't know that it's satire, but it's arch and sometimes funny.

If you want a step farther into the bizarre that is Southern Gothic, perhaps Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor.
posted by vunder at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a great, disturbing read, I experienced it as being a very very very dark satire.
posted by cakelite at 1:43 PM on September 8, 2017

Martin Amis has a few books up this alley, like Money and London Fields. Avoid Dead Babies, though—it's good but more over the top than you're looking for.
posted by ejs at 1:48 PM on September 8, 2017

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, Jenny Lawson. Her blog will give you a flavour of the book, though I found the book generally darker and less played for laughs. There's taxidermy of already dead animals but I don't remember any animal abuse.
posted by paduasoy at 1:50 PM on September 8, 2017

Candide by Voltaire.
For Vonnegut, I'd recommend Galapagos.
I'd second Flannery O'Connor, though I only know her short stories. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and "All that rises must converge" come to mind.

Oh, and Gulliver's Travels!
posted by storybored at 2:12 PM on September 8, 2017

"A Confederacy of Dunces," John Kennedy Toole!
posted by fritillary at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Gogol, Dead Souls
Hasek, The Good Soldier Svejk

(I don't remember animal abuse in these but I can't 100% guarantee its absence)
posted by praemunire at 2:40 PM on September 8, 2017

If you can get over the overwhelming boomer-ism, Carl Hiaasen's books are pretty decent popcorn satire.
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:48 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also Master & Margarita by Bulgakov: aint no satire like a long-censored satire of the Soviet state that features Satan, Pontius Pilate and a talking cat. It's a challenging read though.
posted by vunder at 4:23 PM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you feel like some rich and chronically unhappy British people, the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn are brutal and hilarious and gorgeous and so, so very dark.
posted by neroli at 5:15 PM on September 8, 2017

Gogol's short stories ( "The nose", "The Overcoat") are like Kafka but funny.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:37 PM on September 8, 2017

Evelyn Waugh! Pretty much everything except Brideshead Revisited (his most famous novel) is scathing black satire/comedy in a 1930s British vein. Scoop, Vile Bodies, and The Loved One are my personal favorites.
posted by merriment at 6:13 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Cat's Cradle needs to be your next Vonnegut.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:00 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Donald Westlake's Dortmunder books.
posted by BWA at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2017

I find Random Family totally absorbing. Non-fiction, a longish read, but it doesn't feel like that; it's just a totally galvanizing saga. (As recommended to me some years ago on here when I asked for suggestions for good books about terrible things -- the Q is a little dated now but if readable sociology is your thing, there were a lot of good suggestions.)

I ignored Angela's Ashes for years, being too much of a snob to read anything that popular; plus, it felt so oversold that I felt like I already knew the book without reading it. I finally read it when I got a "Oh, really? You should read it; it's hilarious; my siblings and I all loved it," from a friend who had grown up with a drunk, bullshitting, eventually abandoning Irish "father." Once I picked it up and read it from that perspective, what was Oprah-tragedy and an utterly unwatchable movie was terrific dark comedy; the family just careens from one predictable screw-up to the next.

Graham Greene's Doctor Fischer of Geneva is not a masterpiece, but it is a funny, dark, quick read.

Promises I Can Keep is sort of in the Random Family genre of absorbing non-fiction.
posted by kmennie at 7:05 AM on September 9, 2017

You'll love Saki's short stories :) The Unrest Cure is one of the darker ones.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Stella Gibbons- Cold Comfort Farm
(Seconding) John Kennedy Toole- Confederacy of Dunces
Hanif Kureishi- The Buddha of Suburbia
posted by Coaticass at 2:48 PM on September 9, 2017

Sue Townsend has written some excellent books, including of course the Adrian Mole series (which still hold up!) 'The Queen and I' and 'Number 10' are both very, very British (having to do with the royal family and the prime minister) but if you like dark satire you should enjoy them.
posted by h00py at 11:53 PM on September 10, 2017

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