Satire

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

The 1980s has become a time memorialized in current pop culture as a lost, neon wonderland, a time of gargantuan ambition and even more gargantuan hairstyles that would define America for a young generation. Often forgotten are the numerous problems that young people confronted at the time, including the families splintered through divorce, the temptation of easy access to dangerous drugs such as cocaine, and a world that became more individualistic and “winner take all” each passing day. Less Than Zero was Bret Easton Ellis’ first novel, a satire describing the lives of wealthy, young people on their time off from college as they travel through a disorienting haze of drugs, frayed relationships, and pop cultural references. Although not as widely remembered or highly regarded as Ellis’ other “80s novel,” American Psycho, Less Than Zero is still a worthy read for anyone seeking to understand the true essence of the 1980s.

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Discworld, Terry Pratchett’s satirical fantasy series, has entertained lovers of fantasy novels since the publication of its first installment, The Color of Magic, in 1983. Over the course of dozens of novels, the focus of Pratchett’s satire in the series changed. Early entries like The Color of Magic tended to be broad parodies of fantasy and role-playing conventions and characterizations. However, later novels such as Night Watch, Thud, and Unseen Academicals became much more focused on satire of real-world concepts of race, class, and current societal issues. Unseen Academicals is a strong example of the style of the later Discworld installments. On its surface level a novel about a group of wizards trying to win a “football” game, Unseen Academicals is a sprawling satire of modern attitudes towards sports fandom, social class, and the cloistered nature of academe.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

During the early 90s, it became fashionable in some contexts to try to rewrite or downplay aspects of older stories that would be considered sexist, racist, or bigoted in a modern context.  Although well-meaning in its intent, this concept ended up creating a great many revisionist versions of old stories that had a tendency to lose the original context of the tales with a newfound preoccupation on social issues.  James Finn Garner parodied this trend in two mid-90s collections of short stories, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Once Upon a More Enlightened Time.  These two novella-length collections are composed of parodies of classic fairy tales with plots and characters reinterpreted in a “politically correct” style.  Although the amount of laughs each “bedtime story” generates are uneven, the best of the stories make for entertaining, quick reads that will amuse readers looking for subversive wit.

Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

Military science fiction has been a major part of the science fiction genre since the publication of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic Starship Troopers in 1959.  For the most part, military science fiction is not thought of as humorous, but one exception to this rule is Harry Harrison’s hilarious satirical novel Bill the Galactic Hero.  The story of a cowardly, naïve, and none-too-bright young man who becomes an unwitting enlistee in a deadly, galaxy-spanning war, Harrison’s novel is filled with deadpan humor, bizarre situations, and satire of the conventions of military science fiction.

Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen

Lucky You

Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen is about a young black woman named JoLayne Lucks who has one of two winning tickets to the Florida lottery--and when she cashes it in she will win $14 million. As a vet assistant, she is very involved with raising the baby turtles that she finds and plans on using her money to buy a section of Florida swampland to create a wildlife refuge.  However, two con men named Chubb and Bodean Gazzer--who have formed a white supremacy militia--own the other winning ticket. When they find out that JoLayne is also a winner, they decide that $28 million would be even better to help them finance the White Clarion Aryans.

Gotham Diaries

By Tonya Lewis Lee and Crystal McCrary Anthony

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"Lauren is trying to be an independent woman by starting her own documentary film company, but it's difficult when you're married to Ed Thomas, one of the wealthiest African-American businessmen in the country -- particularly when he seems to have a roving eye. Manny is an up-and-coming gay real estate agent who arrived in Manhattan from Alabama with only the clothes on his back. He's made his way to the top of his profession -- yet he still wants more and is intent on charming his way into riches to keep his gorgeous live-in boyfriend happy. Tandy is one of the powerful 'ladies who lunch' until her husband's death reveals his shocking financial problems. Now, she's desperate to reinvent herself and must find a new source of money."
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The People's Choice

By Jeff Greenfield

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"An Emmy Award-winning political commentator for ABC-TV news offers a satirical--but frighteningly plausible--novel about the chaos, wheeler-dealers, high-rollers, and innocent bystanders that rush in when a president-elect dies before the inauguration."
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The Last Debate

By Jim Lehrer

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A satirical account of a presidential debate pits Republican nominee James Meredith, a fundamentalist Christian whose ambitions border on white supremacy, against four reporters who discover damaging information eight days before the election.
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Big Girls Don't Cry

By Fay Weldon

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A satiric novel of four women, unhappy with their lives, who band together to form a feminist publishing house, and learn to wield corporate power as well as the best of the men.
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What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal

By Zoe Heller

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A lonely schoolteacher reveals more than she intends when she records the story of her best friend’s affair with a pupil in this sly, insightful novel Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary existence; aside from her cat, Portia, she has few friends and no intimates. When Sheba Hart joins St. George’s as the new art teacher, Barbara senses the possibility of a new friendship. It begins with lunches and continues with regular invitations to meals with Sheba’s seemingly close-knit family. But as Barbara and Sheba’s relationship develops, another does as well: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When it comes to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend’s defense—an account that reveals not only Sheba’s secrets but her own.

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