In today’s comedy climate that often involves poo, projectile vomit, semen, and decapitation, or comics who are mean and immediately go for the jugular, it’s refreshing to find a humorist who does not appeal to his audience’s basest nature.
Meet Bob Tarte, author of Enslaved By Ducks, Fowl Weather, and the soon-to-be-released Kitty Cornered, who writes books that are just plain funny. I first became acquainted with Tarte’s work while cruising Amazon’s recommendations. I saw Enslaved By Ducks, and being a (rubber) duck lover, I checked it out, but thought it looked a bit hokey– until I noticed that 216 people gave it a five star review. Three seconds later with the help of my “Buy With One Click” button (the equivalent of having cocaine in a nasal spray bottle), I had made my purchase.
Tarte’s memoir of moving out into the Michigan countryside with his wife for some peace and quiet only for it to be destroyed by a growing coterie of bunnies, birds, ducks, geese, and turkeys does not disappoint. He grapples with how ill-suited for country life he is as he builds pens and cages for animals who have their own agendas and do not peacefully co-exist unless they are separated by wire mesh. He takes his reader along on his journey of trying Zoloft to ease his anxiety as he is befuddled and bewildered by what animals can do each other and him (their favorite target). His descriptions of his animals and their personalities are well-drawn as he shows how they transformed a man who never had pets into one who tenderly cares for a goose with a respiratory illness. His descriptions of people are equally funny as he meets a variety of vets and well-meaning strangers who give him all qualities of advice. If you’ve ever found yourself singing to an animal, then this book is for you.
I enjoyed Enslaved By Ducks so much that I promptly hit my One-Click button for Fowl Weather. I wanted to stay in his world of country life, crazy neighbors, and cunning animals. This follow-up book continues his account of being ruled by his pets, but the fowl in the title is intentional wordplay. Life goes on and it’s not always funny. Animals and people get old and deal with illness. His mother slowly succumbs to Alzheimer’s and he realizes his own limitations in helping her. Tarte describes this part of life with warmth and humility and always with humor. This is what I appreciate about his writing; it’s open, honest, and lacks pretension.
Bob Tarte’s books are genuinely funny and he never goes for the cheap gags or cutting remarks. I highly recommend them.