This generation has gone a little cynical. I mean, I could just be speaking for myself, but I am pretty sure I am not the only twenty-something year old who enjoys “vegging out” to South Park and Workaholics. So, I don’t think I’m alone on this one. But in fact, we are not the first generation to turn cynical. Not according to books anyway.
So I am looking to my cynical heroes, here are some of the great satirists:
Kurt Vonnegut: My all-time favourite satirist! You’ve probably heard of Cat’s Cradle and Slaughter-House Five or read them in high school ( at least you were supposed to anyway!). These are his two most famous books, but the man is a machine. In the eighty-five years that he endured on Earth, he wrote everything from stories and articles to plays and short stories. All peppered with witty disdain for the human race. On an interesting side note, Vonnegut was published in Playboy multiple times.
Books to read by Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Jailbird
Joseph Heller: Heller is most famous for Catch-22, which you were also supposed to read in high school. This book is about as cynical as they come. But it’s not the only book he wrote. He’s only famous for Catch-22 but his other books are just as good and just as sarcastic. He’s really good at making his stories funny and enjoyable while at the same time twisted and serious.
Books to read by Heller: Something Happened, Good as Gold, Closing Time
Woody Allen: Woody Allen is best known as a director. But he’s also a great comedian, playwright and screenwriter. His satire is funnier, a little meaner, and not quite as serious as the previous two satirists. On top of the movies that he’s directed and written, he’s also written quite a few plays and short stories. He’s also ranked the fourth best stand-up comedian by comedy central, so needless to say, he’s pretty damn funny.
Stories to read by Allen: Getting Even, Without Feathers, Side Effects, Mere Anarchy
Bill Maher: This is the guy you go to when you’re looking for some political satire. That’s what he’s known best for. He’s also a great comedian, but his satire, while funny, deals with more contemporary American issues. You can read his hilarious commentary on topics like religion and bureaucracy, or you can just watch him on Real Time with Bill Maher.
Books to read by Maher: True Story : A Novel, Keep the Statue of Liberty Closed: The New Rules, The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass
Chuck Palahniuk: Everyone knows Palahniuk for Fight Club, which I think is his best book, but it’s not the only book he wrote. His satire is dark and warped and hilarious. Along with his twisted fiction, Palahniuk has also written a few non-fiction pieces and short stories, that are just as twisted and entertaining.
Books to read by Palahniuk: Choke, Lullaby, Snuff, Damned
These are just five of the best satirist according to me. There are tons of other great writers out there who are just as cynical and are just as disappointed in the human race as these guys. Here are a few books that have been published within the last five years by authors who aren’t very well known… yet.
Breathers: A Zombies Lament by SG Browne
Fobbit by David Abrams
The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Baker
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk