Four authors in contemporary fiction who are relentless in their pursuit of humour, truth, beauty, and understanding. This is by no means a comprehensive list—rather one to appreciate and hopefully take something and discover from.
Jackson Tippett McCrae
McCrae is a writer who breaks moulds and transcends literary traditions. With three novels and a collection of short stories published, his writing immediately draws you in with its blatant humour and engaging and fascinating story lines. Of course, with nothing to back my claims up, you're forced to take my word for it, so consider the following excerpt from McCrae's novel "The Bark of the Dogwood": "When I was six years old I became locked inside the home of Helen Keller." McCrae intricately weaves offbeat humour with unbelievably developed characters and decidedly inconceivable plots in such an astonishing, entertaining manner you'll have trouble putting his work down.
Notable work: The Bark of the Dogwood
Most people who know of Eggers and are familiar with his work either love the guy or hate him. There seems to be no middle ground for the author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and “What is the What”. Eggers’ ability to write conversational, true to life novels is perhaps what draws his crowd in. He’s not pretentious or overly wordy, his characters are like the friends you already have, and the situations they find themselves in don’t seem that far-fetched given their circumstances. These reasons are also why people loathe the guy—conversational writing about life’s trials and tribulations. The laugh-out-loud antics and confidence found in Eggers’ writing is reason enough to pick him up.
Notable work: You Shall Know Our Velocity
Anyone familiar with Hornby will know that as outrageous as his novels seem—full of self-pity, love, loss, rejection, bizarre love interests, even more bizarre friendships—you can always, at some point, relate to them. That’s the point isn’t it? Wanting to connect to the characters or situations they’re entangled in on some level, to know there are others out there who are just as, if not more, fucked up, damaged, confused etc., despite the work being fictitious. Here’s an author who can turn the touchy subject of suicide (in his novel “A Long Way Down”) into a gut-wrenchingly hilarious exploration of human interaction and behaviour. His work is often sentimental and explorative, but in such a way that the reader feels connected rather than alienated.
Notable work: A Long Way Down
The author of Hard Core Logo, a novel subsequently turned into a Canadian cult classic movie, writes compulsively addictive books. His novel “The Pornographer’s Poem” is a memoir from the perspective of a teenage boy growing up in Vancouver. It’s by no means about poetry, but it’s certainly rife with pornography, voyeurism, bestiality, and a few other questionable topics. Instead of being repulsed and turned off, though, Turner’s work is beyond fascinating. The book jumps between an interrogation with an unnamed tribunal and the events surrounding said questioning. As the narrator grows up, he finds himself in the porn industry, with the intention of making films that subvert the way the world is constructed. Of course, it all goes to shit, and the same world he rebelled against gets the better of him. Turner’s work is artistic and liberating, dealing with strong subject matter not many are willing to wade through.
Notable work: The Pornographer’s Poem