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12 Quotes from Rib-Tickling Summer Reads

Daragh  Reddin By Daragh Reddin Published on July 5, 2017

Fancy a rib-tickling holiday read to throw into your suitcase this summer? Here are the opening lines from thirteen works of contemporary comic fiction that are guaranteed to have you giggling in your seat before the plane even leaves the tarmac …

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We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like ‘I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive....’ And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: ‘Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?’

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

Elaine takes the boys to Florida and drops them off like they’re dry cleaning.
‘See you in ten days,’ she says as they wave goodbye in the American terminal. ‘Be nice!’
She kisses her mother-in-law’s cheek and, feeling the rough skin against her own, thinks of this woman literally as her husband’s genetic map, down to the beard.

‘Adults Alone’ from The Safety of Objects: Stories, AM Homes

It has been four weeks and it is still hard for me to believe Sandor Needleman is dead. I was present at the cremation and, at his son’s request, brought the marshmallows, but few of us could think of anything but our pain.
Needleman was constantly obsessing over his funeral plans and once told me, ‘I much prefer cremation to burial in the earth, and both to a weekend with Mrs. Needleman.’ In the end, he chose to have himself cremated and donated his ashes to the University of Heidelberg, which scattered them to the four winds and got a deposit on the urn.

‘Remembering Needleman’ from Side Effects, Woody Allen

Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that.

Pontoon, Garrison Keillor 

It was a nice day.
All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn’t been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first big thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.
The angel of the Eastern Gate put his wings over his head to shield himself from the first drops.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said politely. What was it you were saying?’
‘I said, that one went down like a lead balloon,’ said the serpent.
‘Oh. Yes,’ said the angel whose name was Aziraphale.
‘I think it was a bit of an overreaction, to be honest,’ said the serpent. ‘I mean, first offence and everything. I can’t see what’s the difference between good and evil anyway.’

‘In the Beginning’ from Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka 

Truth be told, I’m not an easy man. I can be an entertaining one, though it’s been my experience that most people don’t want to be entertained. They want to be comforted. And, of course, my idea of entertaining might not be yours. I’m in complete agreement with all those people who say, regarding movies: ‘I just want to be entertained’. This populist position is much derided by my academic colleagues as simpleminded and unsophisticated, evidence of questionable analytical and critical acuity. But I agree with the premise, and I too just want to be entertained. That I am almost never entertained by what entertains other people who just want to be entertained doesn’t make us philosophically incompatible. It just means we shouldn’t go to movies together.

Straight Man, Richard Russo 

I was on ‘Oprah’ a while ago talking about how I used to love too much. Did you see it? The other guests were men who continue to love too much. Those men were in a place I used to be, and I felt sorry for them. I was the guest who went from loving too much to being loved too much. Everybody loves me. I’m the most important person in the lives of almost everyone I know and a good number of people I’ve never met. I don’t say this casually; I’m just pointing out my qualification.

‘Parade’ from Barrel Fever, David Sedaris 

Tuesday January 1st 1991
I start the year with a throbbing head and shaking limbs, owing to the excessive amounts of alcohol I was forced to drink at my mother's party last night.
I was quite happy sitting on a dining chair, watching the dancing and sipping on a low-calorie soft drink, but my mother kept shouting at me: 'Join in, fish-face,’ and wouldn't rest until
I'd consumed a glass and a half of Lambrusco.

Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years, Sue Townsend 

This all started because of a clerical error.
Without the clerical error, I wouldn’t have been thinking this way at all; I wouldn’t have had time. I would have been too preoccupied with the new friends I was planning to make at Mensa, the international society of geniuses. I’d taken their IQ test, but my score came back missing a digit. Where was the 1 that should have been in front of the 90? I fell short of genius category by a full fifty points, barely enough to qualify me to sharpen their pencils. Thus I was rejected from membership and facing a hopeless pile of red tape to correct the mistake.

The Pleasure of My Company, Steve Martin 

In the aftermath of an athletic humiliation on an unprecedented scale—a loss to a tortoise in a footrace so staggering that, his tormenters teased, it would not only live on in the record books, but would transcend sport itself, and be taught to children around the world in textbooks and bedtime stories for centuries; that hundreds of years from now, children who had never heard of a ‘tortoise’ would learn that it was basically a fancy type of turtle from hearing about this very race—the hare retreated, understandably, into a substantial period of depression and self-doubt.

‘The Rematch’, from One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, B.J. Novak 

Dearest Diary,
Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off. Their lives, their entirety, will be marked by glossy marble headstones bearing false summations (‘her star shone brightly’, ‘never to be forgotten’, ‘he liked jazz’), and then these too will be lost in a coastal flood or get hacked to pieces by some genetically modified future-turkey.

Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart 

The first day I did not think it was funny. I didn’t think it was funny the third day either, but I managed to make a little joke about it. ‘The most unfair thing about this whole business,’ I said, ‘is that I can’t even date.’ Well, you had to be there, as they say, because when I put it down on paper it doesn’t sound funny. But what made it funny (trust me) is the word ‘date’ which when you say it out loud at the end of a sentence has a wonderful teenage quality, and since I am not a teenager (okay, I’m thirty-eight), and since the reason I was hardly in a position to date on first learning that my second husband had taken a lover was that I was seven months pregnant, I got a laugh on it, though for all I know my group was only laughing because they were trying to cheer me up. I needed cheering up. I was in New York, staying in my father’s apartment, I was crying most of the time, and every time I stopped crying I had to look at my father’s incredibly depressing walnut furniture and slate-gray lamps which made me start crying again.

Heartburn, Nora Ephron 

Daragh is an editor and freelance writer based in Dublin


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