Lapham Rising

This book came to me from a YouTube algorithm-recommended trailer for the 2022 film Angry Neighbors. (Warning: if you watch the trailer, you’ve basically read the book.) As per my new policy to seek out the literary inspiration for these things that catch my attention, I borrowed a copy of the book from the library.

The book is small and printed on rough, thick paper. It reminded me of Jerzy Kosiński's Being There in how direct and quick it was to read. After so many months of “serious” reads it was nice to consume something that didn’t really mean anything.

The writing is acerbic, and probably a lot funnier to someone who lives in the Hamptons. I don’t read a lot of satire—though I really should have Swift on the to-read list—and the art of writing comedy is one that eludes me. Anything I’ve ever written that’s made anyone laugh has been incidental. I can’t write jokes on purpose. This is something I like about myself, though: I see myself as a genuine fan of comedy. I’ve enjoyed it in all its forms for most of my life. One of the first albums I owned on vinyl was Bob & Doug McKenzie’s The Great White North, I grew up with the Carol Burnette Show and SCTV, and every Monday night I sit and watch Kill Tony even though I know it’s not technically live. But I’ve never aspired to write or perform comedy.

This book didn’t change that attitude one bit.

What rang the truest to me in author Roger Rosenblatt’s prose was how well he captured the curmudgeonly nature of his elderly protagonist. I’ve been spending a lot of time with seniors this year and Rosenblatt nailed the mannerisms and shambling determination of many of them.

There are far more valuable books you could be putting into your brain, but if you need a brief palette cleanser, Lapham Rising is a nice little scoop of vanilla ice cream. As it is a personal book that reads much like someone’s lived experience, it’s also a reminder that it’s okay to write these kinds of things, too. And who knows? Maybe get a movie deal out of one?


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