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Strange Nervous Laughter    by Bridget McNulty order for
Strange Nervous Laughter
by Bridget McNulty
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2009 (2009)

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*   Reviewed by Joan Burton

The city of Durban, South Africa has been suffering through a blistering heat wave and it has put people on edge. The Handy Green Grocers is robbed one morning, but no one is injured. Beth, the cashier, screams not to be hurt, while the two customers who are shopping at the time (Mdu and Meryl) keep very quiet. Afterwards they are all traumatized by their brush with death, but are glad to be safe.

Each of the three moves on with his or her life, all seeking love and acceptance. Beth is dating a new man and is floating. When she is happy her feet leave the ground. Pravesh, her love interest, was sitting on a bench across from the grocer's the morning the store was robbed. He is an undertaker with a toe nail fetish, and has been watching Beth while she is at work. Pravesh gets a tingling sensation behind his knees when there is going to be a death. Happy to be dating again, Beth vows not to be pushy and forward as she has been in previous relationships.

Mdu is a student who knows he is different. He can actually hear other people's thoughts and can communicate with whales. One day while at the ocean talking to the whales, he sees someone swimming far out from shore. Thinking they are in trouble he swims out to help and meets Aisha, who has trouble facing reality and surrounds herself with her dreams.

Meryl works for the Guinness World Records and she is sent out to interview Harry, a garbage man, who lives near the dump. He claims he has eaten nothing but green food for the last nineteen months, his reason being his Irish heritage. He also has the power to smell things others cannot. In some strange way Meryl is attracted to Harry.

Strange Nervous Laughter is written with whimsical overtones. It is about love, finding love, how people act in love, and losing love. The story is quirky and eccentric and a little too over the top to ring true.

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