Actually had a difficult time finding what I thought would be a funny book. Sure, many of you may be thinking, “Coulda just read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ol’ Sawce.” Well, I’ve read all those. Not the Eoin Colfer one (even though I have it), but I’ve read all the others. Didn’t want to pick up another Discworld book either since delving back into that universe would more than likely prove a time-devouring exercise. No, instead I perused lists of what people consider “the funniest books” until I came across one that I thought would suit me just fine. See, I’m a huge wrestling fan (in case you’re brand-spanking new to this blog), so Tietam Brown by Mick Foley looked to fit the bill.
Foley’s first novel follows about a year in the life of Antietam (Andy) Brown V. Andy’s had it rough his entire life. He spent 16 of his first 17 years in foster homes, an orphanage, and finally juvenile detention. He’s missing an ear (this is written by Mick Foley, after all), and one of his hands doesn’t really work. None of his foster home stays ended well…I don’t even think you could say they ended badly. That sounds like too weak of a word. Also, Andy enters what he calls “the rage” when things are getting entirely too dangerous and he goes nutso on whoever is unfortunate enough to be near. Things could be looking up for him now, though, as his dad, Antietam (Tietam) Brown IV, comes to pick him up from juvy and take him home. Terri, the head cheerleader at his new school, has taken a fancy to him, too, so it does seem as though Andy’s done with the rough stuff. Nope.
I can see why people have to referred to this as “funny.” I found myself laughing quite a bit. I knew I would since I’ve read Foley’s first autobiography, and the man is just as funny in print as he is on camera. But, holy crap, this book is dark. Books geared more for adult audiences can sometimes be unrelenting when it comes to putting their characters through the ringer. I did not expect that here, though. Tietam’s character and actions are disturbing, to say the least, and Andy’s past and present are littered with so much unfortunate shit that you can’t help but wonder that the God of this book must hate him. So yeah, I kinda feel like Foley might have gotten carried away on the “dark” bit of “dark comedy.”
The characters are pretty great, though. I mean, they’re not great people, but they’re written really well. Okay, the two main characters are. It feels like a lot of time and care went into the two Antietams, and that really comes through. They are kinda fascinating. Sad, but fascinating. Most of the other characters just seem to be placeholders, though. School bully/jock, bad teacher/coach, religious/sports zealot, etc. I was also pretty disappointed in Terri for a while since she was painfully Mary Sue-esque. She’s beautiful, kind, forgiving, and very attracted to our social outcast protagonist. It’s not until later that a serious flaw of hers comes to light, but then she suffers the fate of most characters in this book by experiencing something extremely dark.
I know it seems like I’ve got nothing but bad things to say about this book, but I did mostly enjoy it. Yeah, it did seem to get overly dark and the characters felt flat more often than not, but the humor shines through and exploring the psyches of the Browns was quite an experience. It’s certainly not my favorite book I’ve come across in the reading challenge, but it was difficult to put down.
Well, that’s it for the books I read on the cruise. The next entry will be on something I’m currently reading. Up next, a book by a female author. What will it be? Stay tuned to find out.