Caution, Writer Ahead by Joel Habush

Caution, Writer Ahead

...and other unprovoked acts of humor
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Habush offers a collection of comical essays, script parodies, and short humor pieces, a number of them riffing on the writing life.

In his first book-length compilation, Wisconsin-based humorist and radio commentator Habush dedicates the material (more or less) to the venerable Laurence Sterne. Sterne may not be a household name to Erma Bombeck’s or Garrison Keillor’s readers, but his 1759 Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is upheld as a landmark comic novel and a forerunner of self-referential metafiction. Similarly (and, thankfully, not as academician-wrought), Habush's collected essays and gag fiction open with the theme of literature—be it a wretched scribbler consulting a doctor about his unfortunate case of writer’s block, partygoers dealing with a metaphor-come-to-life dilemma of an actual elephant in a room, various personality types participating in book clubs, yesteryear’s sports journalists employing grammatical peculiarities, or the author comparing the persistent lousiness of TV (yes, even Downton Abbey) to the comfort of a good book. After the opener, the anthology tends to become more free-form, with several pieces as broadcast-script–format parodies and japes, burlesquing historical costume dramas (ancient Rome and Camelot, for instance) or the pretensions of community theater. Other entries explore aspects of Wisconsin living. The homespun voice of the author is consistent through the diverting and varying subject matter (“I received a notice from my Alma Mater, stating that it (she?) was conducting a nationwide search for a new Dean of Students. I thought that maybe I should apply mainly, because seeing how’s I’m a writer, I obviously didn’t have anything better to do”). And sometimes he hits a most thoughtful note, as in a mildly cautionary disquisition on how writers will pretend empathy for the plights of others. In fact, Habush affirms, they're just squirreling away emotional turmoil for when it becomes handy to use in the next story. Ouch.

An amusing compilation of Midwest-flavored wit and occasional astringency.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5172-1175-2
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Create Space
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2016


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