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Reviews of books on humor and comedy.

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    "Discipline: A Play," by Gerard Bianco, is a madcap comedy with a sympathetic mix of wit, banter, love and frustration that flirts with the obsessions that can drive a man to madness. Meet Harold Jenkins, a sexually frustrated man. Essentially isolated in his NYC apartment, he is helpless against the powers that control his every hour. He's stuck in a rut of old habits and that's making things difficult with Lilly, his less-than-generous lady love. But for Harold, new possibilities arrive in the appearance of a mysterious stranger. He can't quite figure out how to respond to this strange person he finds sniffling on his stove in the middle of the night. Bewildered and confused, Harold is faced with a critical decision: will he succumb to the requirements dictated by the powers that be, or will he take control of his life in the only way he knows how?

    Readers are laughing out loud over Irene Woodbury’s "A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis" while finding that they resonate with main character Wendy. Wendy Sinclair, a forty-five year old newlywed, thought everything was going right in her life, but then she moves to Houston where she knows no one, doesn’t like the snooty people she meets, and is ignored by her workaholic husband. When she goes on a girls’ weekend in Las Vegas and decides not to return home, her midlife crisis takes off in unexpected directions. Wendy begins her new Las Vegas life by renting a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; then she wallows in a blur of spas, malls, and buffets before she becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis. After all, a midlife crisis needs to be done right!

    In this collection of short essays based on personal experiences, Mark Elswick offers humorous episodes about being a man and father. Whether it’s his daughter sending him to the store to buy those…well, things that transforms him into Padman; his realization that at forty-two, he is slowly turning into an old man; or his reaction to his middle school aged daughter dating a “man” two years older than her, readers—male and female alike—will find themselves cracking smiles when they aren’t busy laughing out loud.

    "Follow The Money" by author Ross Cavins is a collection of ten interconnected short stories, guaranteed to tickle your funny bone (and those of the people within your direct vicinity). The stories begin with a botched kidnapping, a money scam, a not-so-average convenience store holdup ... and then they flow (with the money) through a series of interesting, and sometimes bizarre, plots. Each story stands on its own but watch for recurring characters and motifs that bind the ten stories into a single plot, one that supports the title of the book, "Follow The Money."

    When Gomez Porter becomes a test subject in an experimental drug trial, he is asked to keep track of any strange experiences through a blog. What Gomez isn't ready for, is so many of his experiences suddenly seeming strange; the antiques dealer trying to buy his old tax papers, the phone-sex salesman who hounds him day and night, the super sexy research assistant who falls for him but is unable to express herself in terms outside the realm of science. But when one of the trial participants turns up dead and another goes missing, Gomez begins to fear for his life. No longer sure who he can trust and which of his experiences are real and which merely drug induced delusions, he decides it's time to go underground and work out a devious plan. Now, years later, his blogs have been recovered from a defunct server. "No Hope for Gomez!" by author Graham Parke, reveals for the first time what happened to Gomez as he takes us on a wild ride of discovery.

    Book Review 30 Isn't Old Author: Colette Petersen Publisher: Outskirts Press ISBN: 978-1-4327-3264-6

    Hold onto your sides as you wind your way through three decades of small town Central Florida, replete with quarreling townsfolk, a no-nonsense sheriff with a legendary ancestor, Cubano hit men, exotic dancers, a haunted house and a former Ziegfeld Follies girl who still high kicks at age 80. Stir in Dracula, a well-hung skunk and one nasty alligator named “Ol’ Clyde” and "A Dish Best Served Cold" by author David Carl Mielke has a recipe for laugh-out-loud mayhem.

    For Maggie Lamond Simone, sarcasm has always been a means of survival, and words, her weapon of choice. Her second-grade teacher worried about a child so flippant at such a tender age. Twenty years later, as a police officer escorted a drunk Simone away from the car she had just wrecked, she asked him to drop her not at home but at the bar where her friends waited. He didn’t laugh. Simone quit drinking the next day. When she finally came up for air a few years later, she was afraid that she wouldn’t be funny without the alcohol. But she had a startling revelation. She wasn’t funny in the first place. The world was. And she started writing about it. Fifteen years and countless words later, "From Beer to Maternity" addresses dating, marriage, pregnancy, motherhood and menopause with a caustic wit and a healthy disrespect for perfection.

    Will Holly and her friends find happiness?

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