Book Review: “The Stench of Honolulu” by Jack Handey

Zachary Shatzer recommended this book to me. He called it the funniest book he’s ever read. Well, when the author of some of the most gut-bustingly laugh-out-loud funny books around says something like that, you pay attention, no? So naturally, I had to get myself a copy.

It lived up to Shatzer’s billing. Indeed, the style of humor is much the same as his, though maybe a bit darker and raunchier, skewing more towards a hard PG-13. Still the dominant feeling is one of utter absurdity. Begin with the title: “the stench of Honolulu”. Since when does Honolulu have a stench? Well, in this book, Honolulu is depicted as a horrible place, decrepit and filthy.

Of course, the narrator is far from reliable. A strange, cowardly, narcissistic and paranoid individual, he is forced to accompany his “friend”–using the term loosely–on a quest to find a golden monkey statue said to be in the Hawaiian islands.

The book continues in this vein, with each escapade more bizarre than the last, including recurring violent yet inexplicably non-lethal encounters with a scientist who our narrator decides is evil. This is one of many running gags that just get funnier as the story goes on.

I could go on and on describing all the madcap episodes that form the bizarre journey, but honestly, you’re better off just reading the book. The hardest thing about reviewing a comedy, I find, is that it’s really impossible to explain why something is funny. You either get it or you don’t. Some people won’t get this, either, and that’s okay. But those who do get it are in for a zany and weird and hilarious ride. I’m very grateful to Mr. Shatzer for the recommendation.


    1. Mr. Shatzer also told me that the audiobook is even funnier than reading it, so that’s probably a good choice!

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