Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Report: The Pirates! books by Gideon Defoe

My first book report was a bit on the serious side (anyone finished Sacajawea yet?). The book selections for this report go completely in the opposite direction.

I discovered these gems while browsing for books at my local library. I needed to find small, light books to take with me on a plane trip. These are all small and light, but little did I know how hilarious they are. I am talking about laugh out loud (no abbreviations here) funny. And when I say "out loud" I mean I was getting strange looks from the other plane passengers.

The Pirates! in an adventure with scientists (2004)
The Pirates! in an adventure with Ahab (2005)
The Pirates! in an adventure with communists (2006)
The Pirates! in an adventure with Napoleon (2008)

Gideon Defoe has an amazingly ironic, absurd, clean, clever humor that is hard to find in modern fiction. For a great sample of his writing, check out his website where I was pleased to learn that he not only has a new Pirates! book planned for 2012 but also has a movie in the work from the first Pirates! adventure. I am beyond ecstatic.

On to some plot elements. The stories follow the Pirate Captain and his band of dedicated (but completely inept) pirates on their various absurd adventures. In the first adventure, they meet up with Charles Darwin (who was trying to convince the world that monkeys could look like humans if they wore formal attire). Much chaos ensues and ham is eaten.

In the second book (adventures with Ahab or whaling depending on which side of the pond you live), the Pirate Captain and his surly band chase after the elusive white whale (after being tricked by his nemesis once again) so that they can pay for a new ship which they could not afford. At one point they sail to Las Vegas (you heard me) to earn money the way everyone in Las Vegas earns money: start a stage show. Chaos ensues and ham is eaten.

The third book introduces the Pirates to opera and communists. The Pirate Captain has his hands full with this adventure and, as always, chaos ensues. Ham may or may not be eaten.

The fourth of the pirate adventures finds the pirates with Napoleon while he is in exile. Napoleon and the Pirate Captain have a power struggle. Chaos ensues (although perhaps not quite so much), but ham is most definitely eaten.

These books are perfect for a person like myself who can never remember the names of characters in books. Defoe bestows such names as the pirate with the red scarf or the albino pirate or the pirate with gangrene. It's wonderful. Defoe also disperses little gems in each book (like the reader's guide in one and a list of pages and pages of made up titles of other available Pirates! books).

You may be saying to yourself, "These books can't possibly be as funny as this Joy person is saying."


But I challenge you to read some of the excerpts of the books found here, here, here, and here. If you don't even chuckle, well, perhaps we can't be friends any more.

But seriously, we each have our own reading tastes, and I love these books. And I'll still be your friend even if we don't like the same books. Maybe.

So who is your favorite comedic writer?

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