You know how sometimes you read something that makes you laugh so hard you're embarrassed to read it in public? That's how I felt about Love's Winning Plays by Inman Majors, which currently rivals Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple for the title of Funniest Book of 2012 (in my humble opinion).
The novel pokes fun at SEC football—a prime target for Majors, whose uncle is former Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors. The plot takes place over the course of just a couple of days, when young football graduate assistant Raymond Love is forced to babysit the unpredictable and misbehaving Coach Woody on the "Pigskin Cavalcade"—a jaunt around the (unnamed) state to meet-and-greet fans and kiss up to boosters.
There is so much to laugh at in this satire: Raymond is a member of an almost-all-female book club that reads cheesy novels that are filled with actual recipes. He gets on the wrong side of the "Gridiron Wizard (Ninja master of Gridiron Gurus)," who runs a chat room for fans. Lines like "Say what you would about college football, you never lacked for golf shirts" are so plentiful that I quit trying to underline all the sentences I wanted to email to my dad. Instead I'm just going to have to buy him the whole book.
We usually post book excerpts on Wednesdays, but I thought I'd send you off into your weekend with a good laugh. Here's a prime example of the humor in the book. The scene: Coach Woody insists on talking to Raymond while Woody's in a hotel bathroom. (Note: Majors does not use quotation marks.)
Coach Love, have you had the pleasure of trying this hotel's brand of toilet paper?
Well, I believe they must make it here on the premises.
Love wasn't sure how to interpret this so he went to default response: yes sir?
I'm thinking they must go around collecting wood chips and bits of sandpaper from local construction sites. And probably a fair smidge of pine bark from the nearest patch of woods and whatever shards of glass they can round up in the parking lot. Then they just whip it all together down in the basement with some Elmer's Glue and hot sauce.
Love kept his own counsel, continuing to stare at the bathroom door in front of him as if he were conversing with it. At no point must his mind imagine what sat within. He heard the sound of a belt buckle hitting porcelain, then a seat squeaking about, then some impatient ruffling through something. The monologue continued throughout:
Two days of this and a man'd be saddle sore for a month . . . I'd pay twenty dollars extra to get decent toilet paper . . . And who needs this shampoo and conditioner and shit. Hand lotion? Well goddam . . . Coach Love, never skimp on ketchup, dress socks, toilet paper, or a sports coat. You'll get your money's worth ten times over if you pay for quality . . I once stripped paint of an old desk . . .
You'll have to read the book yourself to see what happens next!
In his review of Love's Winning Plays, Ian Schwartz calls the novel "classic guy-lit." That may be true, but this female reader (a reluctant Arkansas Razorback fan) couldn't get enough of this funny, funny story.
Have you read it? What's your vote for Funniest Book of 2012?
Note: We'll be posting about Nashville's Southern Festival of Books next week, but here's an early head's up: I will be interviewing Inman Majors on the Chapter 16 stage from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, October 13. Y'all come out! It's going to be fun.