Brian Oard’s rambling, stream-of-consciousness story, Flying Hung-Over, takes readers along for the ride as he empties his head of all passing thoughts during a trip from New York City to Wichita, Kan. Written without indentation, apparently for effect, Oard is perhaps channeling Dennis Miller or Denis Leary. Unfortunately, his work lacks their wit or style, and his musings on politics, religion, sex, other people’s parenting, and his fellow travelers–most of whom he decides in advance he will hate based on their race, weight, luggage choice or clothing–come off as parochial and xenophobic.
The title and cover photo are delightful, and the premise has potential; it would seem to have a built-in audience, as few people enjoy traveling these days and can relate to the daunting logistics and petty annoyances of overhead bin hoggers and slow security lines. (The amazing thing, though, is that nothing bad happens to him on his journey, so it begs the question of why he is complaining so much.) He is also a small-town guy returning from his first trip to New York (by the way, the city has five “boroughs,” not “bureaus”) with a hangover. This has the makings of an amusing fish-out-of-water tale.
But his frequent, jarring swipes at various races, including his stereotyped “humor” at the expense of Asians and Latinos, as well as his outright dismissal of African Americans, are particularly offensive. He excuses it all by copping to not being politically correct and insists he is not prejudiced but merely speaking for those he presumes agree with his unpleasant narrow-mindedness.
Comedy is hard. Writing is comedy is harder. Failing to elicit the laughs it desires, Flying Hung-Over quickly grows wearisome and proves that reading something that aims to be funny but falls short may be the hardest of all.
Available in hardcover and ebook.