Wednesday 22 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Life & Times of Car Johnson

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Genre - Humor 
Rating - PG13 
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In no time, the candles were gone and I had a big wad of cash. Just before I got into my car to drive back home, a lady came over and thanked me for making such great joke candles. Joke candles? My masterpieces were NOT joke candles. They were art to brighten the lives of women everywhere! Then again, they did sell. And the police or hospital weren’t involved this time. I think this was my most successful venture to date.

Page 99 of The Life and Times of Car Johnson is the very end of a chapter detailing the results of Car’s attempt to create fancy scented candles for women. He finds himself incensed that people were only buying his candles because they thought they were joke candles, but eventually decides that it’s okay, since without visits from the police or a trip to the hospital, it was actually more successful than any of his other business ventures. It’s only one paragraph, so it doesn’t have the impact of the previous pages. All the steps of figuring out what to put in the candles and the ridiculous conclusions Car comes up with have already passed And page 99’s paragraph is just after the mention of the catastrophic explosion of the candles, so there is a lack of the over the top oomph factor that describes the book.

But page 99 does showcase what’s under the silly parts of the story, the overall basic humor template that makes it more than just a story about a crude and pathetic man who matures on the pages to simply pathetic. Car plays straight man to his own shenanigans, always acting as if he is completely normal and the world just doesn’t understand his maligned genius, but settles for humiliation because it’s better than what he normally receives.

Page 99 shows that there is more to the story than just random silliness and rude thoughts. It shows that I actually attempted to create it with an underlying comedic structure and create a humorous book that is not just a bunch of random statements that sit on the page simply to be called humor. The story has stakes, even if they are not serious to the reader, are serious to Car and made serious through his eyes.

This is not to say the story is serious literature or secret commentary on the state of the world, only that it was written taking the humor seriously, even though the premise of the page is about a man getting upset over people assuming his two foot tall candles with gun powder scent were jokes when they exploded. The structure behind The Life and Times of Car Johnson is there to give a backbone to make the laughs even funnier. That said, structure is best left combined with actual humor, so I would probably not read further if I only read page 99. A punch line with no build up is like a cold glass without any beer.

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