Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf ~ Featuring Karl Pilkington and Graeme Simsion

By Lynn Willoughby

The Moaning of Life ~ Karl Pilkington

If you are a fan of “An Idiot Abroad” on TV, you will be familiar with Karl Pilkington. This book is based on another travel documentary by the same name as the book. Both books and TV are hilariously funny.

Here we travel to various countries with Karl as he delves into the biggest issues in life and how customs vary from culture to culture. Karl observes, comments, participates, gives us trivial facts and most of all his own philosophy on the rituals common to all societies – marriage, kids, vocation, money, happiness and death.

Like Karl himself, there are some VERY bizarre customs around the world, and Karl is an expert at ferrating them out. We are informed, educated and scandalized by some of these practices. What makes the book so very funny is Karl’s reluctant participation – as assistant to a groom in India where Karl’s job is to see that the groom’s headdress is on straight, and then to be in charge of seeing that every one of the 5000 guests has enough peanuts! But Karl gets to pondering how the two portable toilets can accommodate all these guests. He becomes completely sidetracked!!

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Karl spends time with the sea gypsies. He COULD focus on how long they can stay underwater, the engineering required to build an entire village at sea or how such an isolated community works socially. Instead, in true Karl fashion, he is amazed at how very well behaved the children are at mealtimes. There is no waffling about special diets, likes or dislikes, who gets to eat what, whether or not you are eating healthy and getting enough vegetables. Here, you eat the fish you caught that day!

As to death – Karl has never given it much thought. He does say, “I never understood why people say ‘At least he died doing something he loved.’ If you die doing something you hate, you don’t have to finish doing it.” And leave it to Karl to find a funeral in Taipei where they have hired a pole dancer! Why, you ask? To attract more people to the service, of course.

I love reading about Karl, the places he visits and his point of view. I find his brand of self-deprecating humour refreshing and extremely funny. He seldom takes himself too seriously and in fact, ordered his own coffin from Eric in Ghana, while visiting there. It has two compartments – one for him and one for Suzanne, and looks exactly like a “Twix” candy bar, Karl’s favourite!

The Rosie Effect ~ Graeme Simsion

I loved, loved, loved “The Rosie Project” and have passed it on to everyone I can think of who would also like to read it. Then along came the sequel, with Don Tillman as the Asperger’s Syndrome hero, and Rosie, now his wife, who is pregnant.

In a typical Donnish reaction to the news, he says, “I was happy in the way I would be happy if the captain of an aircraft in which I was travelling announced that he had succeeded in restarting one engine after both had failed.”
Rosie feels Don is not empathetic to her, nor aware of what changes are likely in their relationship once the baby arrives. So Don starts a typical (for Don) research project – filming children playing in a public playground and following them as they move about. Disaster!!

After Don’s arrest he must meet with a therapist, do some research for the Lesbian Mother’s Group, then some community service hours – all leading to still more hilarious, but disastrous results. He decides not to confide in Rosie regarding any of this, so as not to raise the stress level of Bud (baby under development). Things go from bad to worse, but you cannot begin to enjoy this novel unless you know Don, and the people surrounding him – Dave, the baseball loving plumber, Gene – the genetics professor, George – the millionaire rock star with his band, The Dead Kings. Are you seeing where this is going? Yes, it is laugh-out-loud, ludicrous and snortingly funny.

A typical sequel, it is not as wonderful as “The Rosie Project”. but I could never have skipped reading it. I highly recommend it, but read “The Rosie Project” first – to get to know Don and Rosie.

Who Knew?
The Centers for Disease Control in the US announced that autism diagnosis rates have climbed by 30% over the past two years to one in sixty-eight schoolchildren with the diagnosis.

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