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Fleeing The Jurisdiction
Fleeing The Jurisdiction
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Flood Feud Goes Global!, April 9, 2013
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In this third and funniest ( so far) installment of the series, Gerald Hansen literally takes his feuding Floods and Barnetts out of Derry and to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, they are all out to sea in every way possible - and going global to match their growing and worldwide fan base. They belong to all of us now!

Hansen immediately signals this expansion of the cultural arena with a clever exchange of colors for the cover of his third book in the Flood saga. it's possible to draw a strong parallel between the most recent development of the rolling feud ignited by Fionnuala Flood's pathological envy of her American brother-in-law's win on the Irish Lotto - and the evolution of the flags used to demonstrate political and religious allegiances by the people of Northern Ireland. Gone, for now, are the colors of the Irish Tricolor: Green representing the Gaelic tradition of Ireland; Orange representing the Irish followers of William of Orange; White representing the hope for peace between the factions. For even before the Queen of Crabs transports the Irish characters far away from Derry, Hansen replaces the familiar colors with the red, white and blue of both the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. The author, who spent many years in his mother's native Northern Ireland (and later in Dublin), appears to have internalized all of the flags used by different sectarian groups in the troubled province. And this is now reflected in the colors he chooses for the designs of the books in his Flood series. We "fansens" all know of Fionnuala's hilarious obsession with all things Titanic. So we can easily appreciate illustrator Hyejong Park's comically Titanic-esque representation of the floating rust-bucket location of Econolux's "Titanic Centennial Memorial Cruise." Just take a few minutes to consider the cover of Fleeing The Jurisdiction - after checking out the history and pictures of Irish flags!

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest black comedy. Hansen again makes us laugh aloud, squirm, wince and groan at the antics of his colorful characters. He picks out the essence of each of them and does with words what the most brilliant cartoonists do with carefully selected features and a few lines with a pen. The characters make us react because they are exaggerated and recognizable. He shows us that we can admit there are toxic people in our midst and that sometimes they are our relatives, neighbors, workmates or employer/ees. He makes us laugh even as he acknowledges how people like Fionnuala manipulate, contaminate and wreck the lives of the unfortunates who have to deal with them. For there is something wrong with awful Fionnuala. She is a maternal narcissist and sociopath. Luckily, as we groan about her weird thinking and dreadful behavior we are comforted that she is - probably - worse by far than any of us!

I can't wait to buy book 4!

Schr Dinger's Caterpillar
Schr Dinger's Caterpillar
by Zane Stumpo
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
30 used & new from $8.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read. This book is brilliant, original and laugh-out-loud funny, November 23, 2012
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The title hooked me. It's perfect and so is the caterpillar in a matchbox on the cover which it says were made and photographed by the author. I was pleased to know from the outset that the plot was going to be a clever and comic take on "Schrodinger's Cat" - the famous thought experiment.
I had great expectations. They were well rewarded.

It soon becomes clear that Zane Stumpo is a polymath as he demonstrates literacy, erudition and total mastery of verbal humor - and all while writing a relentlessly funny and enjoyable farce which explains much about a complicated scientific interpretation in simple terms. That takes genius.

He does this so seamlessly and hilariously that I'm confident even readers who start unfamiliar with Irwin Schrodinger's work will be hoping for even more bizarre implications of quantum mechanics, in a sequel, by the time they finish this book.

A brilliant debut novel. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy good writing and especially the works of Lewis Carroll, Laurence Sterne and Nicolai Gogol. It goes without saying that this author is a contender for the affections of those of us who adored the late great Douglas Adams.

An Embarrassment of Riches
An Embarrassment of Riches
by Gerald Hansen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.16
33 used & new from $1.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wickedly hilarious and a masterpiece of black comedy, August 12, 2011
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This is an hilarious, irreverent,rip-roaring, and grand broth of a book! I've never been to Northern Ireland, but, after a few pages of learning the meaning of unfamiliar words ( glossary provided) and adjusting to their syntax, I was easily able to understand and thoroughly enjoy it.

Gerald Hansen has the ability to convey a great deal in very few words. Skilfully written and superbly plotted, this is far more than a very funny and compelling yarn with a riotous crew of vivid and memorable characters. In this time of economic upheaval and uncertainty, when kids are rioting and looting in the streets of Britain, and when we are well aware that the powerful have allowed an unscrupulous and selfish few to plunder the rest of us, this is a very well-timed cautionary tale explaining the "Politics of Envy." That is: how the dispossessed, uninvested in the status quo, can easily become so bitter and resentful that they feel entitled to demand or TAKE what they want, or, failing that, to gratuitously attack others, especially those who have what they covet, or wantonly destroy their possessions.

Several clear strands of plot are masterfully braided together in this book, and all within a rollicking, and very Irish, format that keeps us laughing. The main characters are well-drawn and memorable. Fionnuala Flood and her kin are colorful and larger than life, as befits their function in a wicked black comedy, and though they start with no insight into their own intolerance, covetousness, and general lack of kindness, we easily trace in them a glimmer of recognition that something has to change. Great utility is made of the peripheral characters, through whom we get a surprisingly sympathetic insight into life in the Bogside. It is this insight that helps us to understand why Fionnuala and her brood are so brutalized and burdened with a pain and hatred that has been stewing for generations. A clear affection for the characters is shown through the thoughts of the priests, the lawyer, the shopkeeper and the policeman, which are used to soften the harshness evident in people who, nevertheless, are much enjoyed for their quick wit and ability to endure life on the economic and social margins.

Gerald Hansen made me care about these characters and the future of Northern Ireland. There are wickedly hilarious scenes ( the confession of Siofra is my favorite) that made me laugh until my face ached. This is a fabulous respite from the suffocating political correctness that has hobbled life today, I adore it and recommend it people who can handle black comedy everywhere.

Hand In The Till
Hand In The Till
Price: $2.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner for Gerald Hansen, March 13, 2011
This review is from: Hand In The Till (Kindle Edition)
Rejoice, Gerald Hansen fans! The second installment of the riotous saga of the feuding Floods of Derry City, that we have all so eagerly awaited, is here! Set in the present, and a year after "An Embarrassment of Riches" left us with Ursula and Jed fleeing to Wisconsin to escape evil Fionnuala's unrelenting persecution, "Hand in the Till" is able to stand alone or as a worthy sequel to his first Amazon semifinalist. Gerald, aware that most of his readership, like himself, are part of the 80 million strong Irish diaspora and the equally huge Brit diaspora around the world, has made Derry-speak more reader-friendly for all of us, without losing the sense of Derry-culture or place. Hooray!

Once again, Hansen's ability to convey so much in very few words is obvious. He again succeeds in making us think, and feel on a visceral level. His cast of characters are memorable and fully-rounded, and their motivations and foibles propel the plot. The Flood Clan is a perfect vehicle for him to use in engaging us in a wickedly funny black comedy that is laced with heart-breaking pathos. I've taught History; but nobody has ever taught me more understanding about the underlying issues in Northern Ireland than this impressive writer. He made me laugh until my face ached, grin, groan, tsk in disapproval and, above all, care about these people, and what happens to Derry in the future.

"Hand in the Till" picks up the story after Ursula and Jed Barnett have handed over ownership of the Flood family's former council-house home, 5 Murphy Crescent, to Ursula's weak-willed drunkard brother, Paddy, and his totally selfish wife, Fionnuala. We very quickly see why Fionnuala's mother, the wily Maureen Heggarty, herself the mother of emigrated thugs, now enlisted as an indentured childminder for her younger kids, secretly thinks that Ursula's extreme generosity to these greedy ingrates isn't that much of a blessing at all. Paddy has been ostracized by his envious workmates at the fish factory and given all the dangerous jobs because they resent him for being "minted." Jed, his best mate, has fled to the States, and he is forced to be scab labor when the workers go on strike because, far from being better off as the owner of two houses, he is struggling to pay two sets of bills. Worse still, his marriage is rocky and he has attracted a lustful Polish immigrant woman

When daughter Moira's book arrives, telling the shameful details of how her mother drove off the Barnetts in trying to grab all the money from their Lotto win, Moira manages to set off a whole cascade of events that lead to a final confrontation and a major development of insight for everybody involved.

It is very hard for anyone to feel sorry for scheming Fionnuala:
"delinquent" housekeeper, abusive and neglectful mother and wife; but Gerald Hansen manages to make us cringe for her sake at the awful "Fingers Across the Foyle" parents drinks reception. Here, under one roof, he puts a microcosm of the entire London/Derry situation under our noses for inspection. Yes. Fionnuala and Paddy are bigoted envious ingrates; but Scrivvins and the other Protestants are shown to be, at best, horribly insensitive, and at worst, self-righteous bigots and exploitative. I found Fionnuala's miserable "coal-bin" of a life to be totally compulsive reading: whether she is causing a riot; avoiding the bill collectors; drugging people; cheating her employers; robbing attics; viciously shoving anyone who gets in her way; or just watching Judge Judy to garner new ideas on how to scam people! Siofra, her nine-year daughter (and my favorite!) and apprentice is equally able to hold readers attention. Time and again, the twists of the clever plot made my brain "trundle" as I tried to predict what was going to happen, only to learn that things aren't always what they seem!

"An Embarrassment of Riches," is about the destructive and ugly outcome of envy - that is, the self-entitlement to covet and grab or destroy what belongs to others. "Hand in the Till" makes us look at the equally ugly flip-side of the coin: Jealousy - the feeling of born entitlement that makes it OK to take and keep for yourself what you think is yours alone by right. It is made very clear that the way forward will require both Catholics and Protestants to end their deep-seated bigotry and hatred and move towards a resolution. And that will not be easy. Suprisingly, "Proddy" Rory and "shameless slapper," Dymphna, are the unlikely candles lighting the way ahead in this particular darkness.

Most of the characters are back and there are interesting new ones:
the dumb and dumber wannabe terrorists; the shop-owning Skivvins and his vicious bully daughter,"Petal"; uptight school-teacher Miss McClurkin and flirty headmistress Mrs Pilkey; "Catholic madwoman, Concepta McLaughlin, who has never been the same since Siofra caused the disaster of a First Holy Communion ceremony in "An Embarrassment of Riches." For me, the naming of the schools says it all: the Catholic school is "Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows," and the Protestant school is "How Great Thou Art."

This book is great fun. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough. And I'd like to make a special mention of a "character" that has greatly entertained me in both books: The Celine Dion Titannic Tote-bag that, as it is filled, shows the Titannic gradually sinking! Hah! This is fiendish Fionnuala's most prized possession and a great favorite with readers. I can hardly wait for the promised next installment of this brilliant series. I already miss my "Fionnuala Fix" and am having to re-read the two books I have in the meantime. I heartily recommend Gerald Hansen's books to anyone who enjoys irish writing and black comedy and can handle the truth. If you are part of the Irish or Brit diasporas( I am both) this is a real treat.

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