Review: J.D. Smith, “Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth”


J.D. Smith has a broad sense of humor. His new humor collection, “Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth,” has something to draw a laugh out of any reader…and maybe something to bug their eyes out with a welcome bit of surprise as well.

The formats are diverse—poems, lists, short stories, even a bingo grid—but it’s all carefully constructed with a clever Hodgman/McSweeney’s vibe. That’s true whether he’s listing “Scat Masterson” as one of the “Least-Feared Gunfighters in the Old West” or doing a Scorcese/Shakespeare mash-up in “Goodsonnet,” which opens with the immortal line, “Would you compare me to some kind of clown?”

The poems and longer-form humor are subtler, taking time to offer a sly twist on the familiar. I really enjoyed following J.D. through his paces; at the same time, the lists offer more quick-hit humor. (There are also two stories exploring sexual themes that may not be for every reader, although the endings offer satisfying payoffs.)

Full disclosure: I first read J.D. work when he published The Great Tuvalu Liquidation Sale, My Fetishist Things and As a Matter of Fact, I Am the Person You Have to Blow to Get a Table Around Here in FLYMF, a humor magazine I used to edit. Those stories are collected here with plenty of great company. Recommended if you’re looking for a laugh.