If you're looking for laughs for beach reading, Wade Rouse's At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream belongs at the top of your list.
Rouse and his partner, Gary, a sometimes in-your-face gay couple, move from St. Louis to a woodsy cottage about a mile from the beach in Saugatuck. Why? Because Rouse has dreams of becoming a modern-day Thoreau. His goal is "To find myself, to find my modern-day Walden Pond, by stripping away superfluous luxuries and living a plainer, simpler life."
Rouse, whose big-city life has hitherto been immersed in trendy clothes ("I consider Kenneth Cole to be on par with Gandhi for his contributions to the world"), trendy foods, trendy events and oh-God-he-misses-Starbucks, is very much a fish out of water.
The account of their rustic vicissitudes could have been related by almost any good writer — but then it would've been just another humorous story. Their gayness — Rouse's particularly — is the tang that makes their rustic adventures laugh-out-loud hilarious. The chapter about their meeting with rural mullet-haired punks is worth the price of admission.
They survive winter, critters and neighbors with night vision binoculars. Occasionally, they even meet a local "whose hobbies don't require ammunition." When a salesman suggests a snowblower-plow for $1,000, "Gary drools. He loves big, expensive things that have the dual power to cause mass destruction while also making others jealous. It's the one straight gene he inherited."
They survive tobogganing. And karaoke at a country bar, where two tipsy trollops come on to them big-time. At first, you laugh when you least expect to — and then, somewhere along the way, you realize you've been laughing almost nonstop.
Rouse resembles a hyperactive kid in his striving for nirvana, which may be why he writes like Bob Hope entertaining the troops. Possibly it's a defense mechanism: joking about hurtful things to keep from letting on how deeply he feels them.