Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Crossroads Road

Author: Jeff Kay
Genre: Fiction, Humor
Pages: 196
Warnings: Fat Hatred, Race and Gender Fail
Rating: 2.5/5

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from the LibraryThing Member Giveaway.

"Crossroads Road" is main character Jovis' account of a series of intentionally ridiculous events. Jovis' mother-in-law, whom he has lovingly dubbed "Sunshine", wins the lottery and several million dollars. She's willing to give her children and their families a large chunk of it (2 million dollars) so long as they agree to live on a cul-de-sac with her. All of her children agree and hijinks ensue.

I have to say it right away but this book didn't get funny for me until after the halfway mark. Kay seems to rely on two major sources of humor, and I only found the second method effective. The first half of the book is intended to be situational comedy regarding Jovis' outrageous in-laws. I can enjoy this style of humor based on my intense love of Terry Prachett's Discworld series, but Jovis' rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, Jovis' in-laws do behave in some ridiculous ways, but most of the scene-building is punctuated by the narrator's internal monologue. Spoiler: Jovis is a raging asshole. I suspect most of the narrator's snide remarks about his family are supposed to be funny, but they just struck me as mean-spirited.

For clarification purposes, let me provide a slice of each family's specially-tailored funny attribute. Also Jovi is married to Tara.

Sue is Tara's sister, and married to Matt. Sue is fat. All the jokes about Sue, and Sue's family, ultimately fall back of the fact that she's overweight. She "fakes" her way into needing a scooter, she's needy for attention,  she requires a special toilet seat and her husband got tricked into marrying her when she was young and not-fat. I do not get why someone who is overweight can suddenly become the butt of every joke and the ultimate villian in every situation. Suffice to say: fat jokes do not hit the spot for me.

Nancy is also Tara's sister, and married to Kevin. Nancy and Kevin are academics, and therefore eat gross food, are never on time to anything, don't watch new TV and have weird sexual fetishes. I will admit that I did find some of the jokes about Nancy and Kevin a bit more funny, but again Jovis' tone just made me feel like an jerk for wanting to laugh.

Ben is Tara's brother, and Buddy is Tara's step-sister, and I don't remember them being the butt of too many jokes. I wonder if it's because they're men, and there just aren't enough noxious stereotypes to play off of? On that note, there is a woman named Carina who is the only non-white character and she is impossible to understand (because of the accent).

Luckily, the second half of the book was funny when you realized that Jovis, dear sweet Jovis, was the butt of all the jokes. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be laughing with Jovis or at him, so it took a while for me to recognize that his mean-spirited remarks where supposed to illustrate what a giant douchebag Jovis was. While he's busy judging the other characters, they're busy judging him! That was when it started getting funny for me. Instead of viewing an event as a chance to laugh at Jovis' "crazy in-laws" I got to laugh at how his need to be the good guy kept making him snotty martyr. It is kind of fun watching an asshole dig their own grave. For that reason I loved the ending.

This book was just not as funny as I hoped it would be. I wasn't sure if I should be laughing at the main character's faux-witty remarks or how incredibly obnoxious he was being. When I finally settled down into mocking Jovis, I chuckled, but I didn't make me belly-laugh. Now the ending brought out a real laugh, but I don't think I should read 196 pages of build-up for one joke. If you really, really like fat jokes or if you like seeing assholes get what they deserve and you have a few hours you don't want back, this book is for you. If not, oh well.

And now, for some Terry Prachett!
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."(source)
Comments and Questions Welcome~

6 comments:

  1. Fat hatred? Race and gender fail? What secluded bubble planet do you live on? How can a book make you "feel like an jerk for wanting to laugh"?
    Stop acting offended and realize it's ok to laugh when something is funny.

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  2. Are you sure you read the book? Its amazing how someone can so misconstrue what was actually wrote.

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  3. Laughing at something you shouldn't or liking a character who is bad does not make you a bad person. It's used in many movies and famous novels today to make a point. In the end, you figured it out.

    I recommend you don't go to the writer's website. Not only won't you like it, the reporters will eat you alive.

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  4. So, you're fat then? Or, have a fat sister?

    In comedy there is nothing that is off limits. If you found that it wasn't funny because the book sucks, that's cool. But if you want it to not be funny because you think a particular population is off limits from insult, then it's is a case of user error.

    How is it any better to laugh at an asshole than it is to laugh at a fat ass, or a hypocritical academic, or a drugged up in-law? It sounds like you start reading your subject novels with some sort of skewed world view in that you are allowed to insult and make good humor of groups with which you have no real world connection, but groups you sympathize with are off limits to insult and indecency.

    Bias does not make for an accurate review or report. Bias makes for an opportunity to sway, not deliver fact or defendable opinion.

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  5. I think I can copy/paste this from the brilliant "Mockers" over at mockable.org. I did write it after all...

    Fat mocking is to be banned...after this one.


    Did you know that middle-aged white men are the last group that it's OK to make fun of in present times? I really cannot help the fact that I am 45 and white. It has all been caused by nature. But nevertheless...let's get down with the fatness shall we.

    The extra 40 - 50 pounds of bouncing abdominal protuberance that I carry and proudly display in a "frozen-in-time waterfall, over my belt" motif is not caused by nature. It is caused by daily intake of TOO MUCH DAMN FOOD AND MALTED BEVERAGES. It is also caused by my job that requires me to SIT ON MY ASS for hours at a time. It is also caused by my hobbies which include EATING ALOT WHILE DRINKING BEER AND SITTING ON MY ASS FOR HOURS AT A TIME!!

    I have packed on the extra shirt stretching volume by eating 8 ounces of Kraft extra-sharp cheddar every day as a mid-morning snack for weeks at a stretch. For lunch it's the two and a half pound grease dripping foot-long meatball sub from the pizza shop next door or an uber-tupperware container with 2 or 3 pounds of leftovers from home. Drinking tea all day with enough sugar to form a syrup, if I let it get cold, that would make Aunt Jemima jealous also adds to the mix.

    Then it's off to home after a long day of posterior posed caloric intake for refreshment and sustenance. Before putting my keys away I waddle to the basement fridge for some manner of chilled malt beverage. None of that light watery crap mind you, no sir. Porter, Dark, Stout, Bock, all words that make my mouth water in anticipation. Then it's off to the upstairs fridge and after I catch my breath from hauling my fat ass up the stairs I'll check for a quick pre-dinner snack.

    Oh look, it's half a smoked pork tenderloin and a couple ounces of brie! That will go great with my 1 liter mug of beer and will tide me over while I cook dinner! ...and have a couple more beers...

    Now that it is 8PM and dinner is ready I'll open an exquisite Bennegas, Sangeovese (asskick red wine) and have at the 2 pound plate of Spaghetti and 3 or 4 slices of garlic bread while watching my favorite shows on TV!

    10 o'clock, it's off to bed. I do have to get my rest you know, I know that putting on my shoes in the morning will be a chore and I'll need all of my strength.

    Now to all my fellow fatties out there, I realize that I am the only one who got fat by the aforementioned methods. The rest of you have obviously been cursed with very large skeletal structures or some naturally occurring affliction that makes Twinkies, donuts and meat products with the word "tallow" in the ingredients leap into your mouth and violently claw their way into your guts, hips, thighs and spacious asses. There should be a law against mocking these poor unfortunates.

    So from the end of this Mock onward we will vow to only pick on middle aged white men, and maybe the odd retard now and again. But, WE WILL NOT SPEAK OF FATTIES!

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  6. SurfReportReaderJune 23, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    DragonLady, it's very obvious all these comments are from folks who worship the ground Mr. Kay walks on and kiss his a**, afraid to tell him the truth.

    I've been a reader of his blog for many years, but find only the tales of his dog to be the best part of it. Occasionally he'll write other things that are funny, but it's usually a blog about drinking (he tries to go on hiatus but invariably finds an excuse to start again) or his many phobias.

    I read the sample of his book carried on Amazon. I love comedy and a good book so I gave it a chance. I didn't laugh once. I posted a negative review, and unsurprisingly enough it never got posted on Amazon, even after he said he'd take any review, bad or good. So much for that.

    He even posted something about the book getting a negative review, which I can only assume is this one, and refuses to post a link to it on his blog. I know that's his right, but he's using the excuse that he doesn't want you to become bombarded with Surf Reporters' wrath.

    Based on the sample alone, I would give the book 2 stars.

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