Sunday, February 22, 2015

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 24

Here’s my book review of Funny Girl by Nick Hornby.
British novelist Nick Hornby is best known for his books that have been adapted as movies and television series, including High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down. Many of his humorous novels fall into the genre they call in the UK “lad lit,” and I’ve called boychik lit, about young men on the make. Funny Girl is a departure. It’s about a young woman who is less concerned about men than becoming a comedienne on TV. Her role model is Lucille Ball and after her arrival in London from the sticks she takes the stage name Sophie Straw – Sophie for sophisticated and straw for brassy blonde.
Sophie fails rapidly upward and is soon the star of a new BBC sitcom. It’s the 1960s – in the midst of the so-called sexual revolution. Yes, Funny Girl is about Sophie’s personal relationships and those of her mostly male colleagues. But it’s mostly about how hard it is to generate comedy, week after week. Funny Girl is sharply witty, and not so much funny as touching.
The writers, Tony and Bill, fret continually about what’s funny. And their gags run the gamut from potty humor to mature marital spats.
So, Funny Girl is not lad lit at all. And it’s not so much funny as witty, which shows up in the catty dialogue as Sophie and the guys argue over script notes, social gaffes, and their personal heartaches.
Nick Hornby describes his writing process this way: “I write in horrible little two-and-three sentence bursts, with five-minute breaks in between. It’s all pretty grim! And so dull!”
It’s routine, all right. The best writing advice I ever got was to get into a chair every day. But clearly Hornby is doing a good job of entertaining himself and us. I suspect that’s why he keeps going  back to his chair.
For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. My series of boychik lit books is the Misadventures of Rollo Hemphill, and the most recent installment is titled, Farnsworth’s Revenge. Young men may identify, mature men will remember, and women of any age will delight in seeing poor Rollo go splat. Don’t forget to catch these podcasts at Boychiklit.com.

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