Best to Laugh: A Novel
No one steps up to life’s banquet, holds out her tray, and orders, “Grief, please!” But as a child, Candy Pekkala was served a heaping helping of it. Every buffet line has a dessert section, however, and when a cousin calls with a Hollywood apartment to sublet, it seems as though Candy is finally offered something sweet. It’s good-bye to Minnesota and hello to California, where a girl who has always lived by her wits has a real chance of making a living with them. With that, the irrepressible Lorna Landvik launches her latest irresistible character onto the world stage—or at least onto the dimly lit small stage where stand-up comedy gets its start.
Herself a comic performer, Landvik taps her own adventurous past and Minnesota roots to conjure Candy’s life in this strange new Technicolor home. Her fellow tenants at Peyton Hall include a female bodybuilder, a ruined nightclub impresario, and a well-connected Romanian fortune-teller. There are game show appearances and temp jobs at a record company and an establishment suspiciously like the Playboy Mansion, and of course the alluring but not always welcoming stage of stand-up comedy. As she hones her act, Candy is tested by humiliation, hecklers, and the inherent sexism that insists “chicks aren’t funny.”
Written with the light touch and quiet wisdom that have made her works so popular, this is classic Lorna Landvik—sometimes so funny, you’ll cry; sometimes so sad, you might as well laugh; and always impossible to put down.
Praise for Best to Laugh: A Novel
Best to Laugh is cheerfully outlandish, filled with ambition, love, adventure, kindness, swimming pools, nightclubs, and baked goods. Best of all, it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.
—Julie Schumacher, author of The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls and Dear Committee Members
Best to Laugh had me laughing out loud. It’s both funny and tender, and filled with memorable characters. You can’t help but love Candy Pekkala and her quirky, mixologist grandmother. Lorna Landvik has written a charming novel with real heart.
—Shannon Olson, author of Welcome to My Planet
One of the things that accounts for Lorna Landvik’s immense popularity is the essential good-heartedness she brings to her work. But as much as this is a celebration of a very special time and place, it is even more a celebration of character, desire, friendship, perseverance, and love—oh, and hamburger hot dish.
—Elizabeth Berg, author of Tapestry of Fortunes and The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
GREAT NOVEL!!! It reads like an autobiography! Best to Laugh, although fiction, is one of the truest accounts of a Hollywood life one can read. It takes a master of comedy to be able to write about the business of laughter. To interpret its roots and inner working. Lorna Landvik is precisely that. I, for one of many, can attribute countless gut busting laughs to the genius of Lorna. A great nostalgic tale.
—Mo Collins, actress/comedian
"Landvik’s novel is happily filled with a double dose of nostalgia—the protagonist’s for the golden age of Hollywood and the author’s for a lovably gritty 1970s Los Angeles." —Kirkus Reviews
"Filled with historical lore about Hollywood’s glory days, inside observations about the chauvinism that pervades the comedy boys’ club, and a bevy of secondary characters straight out of central casting, Landvik’s homage to funny ladies everywhere is a joyful, breezy trip down memory lane." —Booklist
"Best to Laugh recounts real—poignant and laugh-out-loud funny—experience." —Star Tribune
"Best to Laugh has Landvik’s signature humor—a little corny, a lot sweet—and the sort of friends-become-family characters that defined her best-selling debut Patty Jane’s House of Curl. There is a Steel Magnolias-style of laugh-aw-cry-laugh likability to the tale and the 1970s-ness is so palpable, you can practically hear the whisper-walk of a woman’s silk pantsuit." —Duluth News-Tribune