The 2008 Thurber Prize for American humor has been awarded to Larry Doyle for his first novel, I Love You, Beth Cooper. Runners up for the prize were Patricia Marx for Him, Her, Him Again, the End of Him and Simon Rich for Ant Farm: and other desperate situations.
So if you are in the mood for some well-written, humorous fiction, these would be some good titles to try.
I Love You, Beth Cooper will soon be a movie directed by Chris Columbus (currently planned for March 2009 release). The story is about a nerdy high school senior who proclaims his love for the most beautiful, popular girl in school in his valedictorian speech. Then she shows up at his door wanting to show him the best night of his life. Doyle has written for Beavis and Butt-Head and The Simpsons, and his first novel "both celebrates and mercilessly satirizes all things teen with razor-sharp humor" according to Publishers Weekly (PW) in their review of his book.
Simon Rich, author of Ant Farm, is a contributor to Mad magazine and former president of the Harvard Lampoon. Ant Farm is a collection of short, humorous pieces, half of which formerly appeared in the Harvard Lampoon. Most of the 57 pieces are only two pages long, and each with a different topic. The PW review says, "The tone remains constant throughout, but the topic changes every page with the abruptness of an iPod shuffle." True, these fragments are fun, and some are so abrupt they could have been iPhoned in."
I enjoyed the start of Claudia Deane's review of Him, Her, Him Again, the End of Him in The Washington Post: "There are college boyfriends. There are caddishly bad college boyfriends. And there are caddishly bad college boyfriends you somehow can't quit. And now, thanks to Patricia Marx's Him Her Him Again the End of Him, there's Eugene.
Encountered while her 21-year-old narrator is studying abroad at Cambridge University, Eugene is a budding philosopher, fresh out of Princeton and AmeriCorps with a copy of the Magna Carta in his pocket."
Author Patricia Marx is a former Saturday Night Live writer and a New Yorker contributor.