Dangerous Laughter – Steven Millhauser


Dangerous laughter is a collection of short stories, I am using the term stories strictly for practical purposes. The kind of stories in the book are of a genre, that I am not able to classify. I have never read anything like this period. Its like the reverse process of developing a comic strip. Instead of drawing pictures, if you were to imagine the pictures in your head and describe them in painstaking detail, you will get a book like this. The very first story seems like an imagined Tom and Jerry episode gone horribly wrong. There is so much gore that you realise that when put in words, cartoons are actually extremely violent.

Was reminded of Aalavandhan when the psycho kamal hassan imagines all the violence as cartoons. I think he even says that in one of the scenes, he saw violence in Tom and Jerry. I am not sure if that was the point of the book, to drive home the details in the gore of every day things we dont think twice about. But it was powerful.

There was this two dimensional quality to his stories that I am not able to explain. It was so powerfully imagined that it seemed more real than reality. It wasnt escapist. It wasnt your usual Pulitzer winning introspective tear jerking heady fare. It was dark humour at its best. The section – Vanishing Acts was my favourite. To think up characters like the girl who has the ability to have orgasmic laughter. Wow. Thats it, you know. If you can even come up with a character like that, you can just go on and on with your stories.

I love fiction. If not for anything else,  for people like Steven Millhauser, who keep reminding you of the most beautiful thing in life – the world of make believe and imagination.