I was a little stumped by this month's prompt for a bit. I love novels that can inspire a range of emotions in a reader, including side-splitting laughter, but I would probably have a hard time hitting that humorous tone even if I weren't writing in the WW2 genre. Yet, while many of my favorite authors who write humor very effectively include romance authors Kristan Higgins, Tracy Brogan, and Josie Silver, one of the funniest books I've ever read was the improbably humorous WW2 classic, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
“You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you're at war and might get your head blown off any second."
"I more than resent it, sir. I'm absolutely incensed."
"You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don't like bigots, bullies, snobs, or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate."
"Consciously, sir, consciously," Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. "I hate them consciously."
"You're antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated, or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you're a manic-depressive!"
"Yes, sir. Perhaps I am."
"Don't try to deny it."
"I'm not denying it, sir," said Yossarian, pleased with the miraculous rapport that finally existed between them. "I agree with all you've said.”
Catch 22, Joseph Heller
I am in the midst of writing my third Clubmobile Girls novel, set in India and Burma, and my hero will find himself recruited into dangerous search-and-rescue work in the Burma jungles. I've found a memoir titled "Hell is So Green" by William Diebold to be particularly helpful in my quest to provide my hero with plenty of challenges. Diebold jumped into the jungles and mountains of Burma a number of times to help lead downed airmen back to an American base --- a serious business. Yet, his memoir crackles with dry and self-deprecating wit, and consistently humorous exchanges with the pilots who maintained communication with him after his jumps and during his treks through dangerous countryside. In this instance, Diebold's parachute hung up in a tree, and a native boy helped cut the lines so he could reach the ground. When he made it back to the supplies the pilot had dropped, Diebold got on the radio: "Just once, old man, just once I wish one of you jokers would drop me on the ground. I've been in trees so much lately I feel like a bird."
Humor can be found in the darkest and lowest of times, and yes, as Lion King's Simba confidently declared, in the face of danger. As we navigate our way back to more normalcy in the coming months, I hope you all find more and more occasion for laughter and humor.
You can find my Clubmobile Girls novels on Amazon.