John Hartnett – The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories

Barber's-Conundrum-Cover_2Title: The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life From the Cheap Seats

Author: John Hartnett

ISBN: 9781301375561

Page count: 32,000 words

Genre: Humor

Price: $2.99)


Author Bio:

I am a native of New Jersey and have worked in the entertainment and publishing industries, starting my career as a joke writer and currently working as an executive recruiter in the publishing biz and writing as time allows.  I’m married and have three children.


Tell us about your book:

The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories is a collection of thirty-seven short literary humor pieces that have been featured in the Worrall Newspaper syndicate (small local papers in NJ) and various websites.

Titles include “How Bananas Almost Destroyed My Marriage, “If We’re Late Again for Church, I Will Kill You”, “Who Needs Cable?” and “The School Project: An American Tragedy”.

JJH Portrait June 2012If you are married, raise kids, go shopping, read magazines, watch television, have ever been to the movies or secretly wish you could push a Congressman into a volcano and not get caught, I personally guarantee that you will relate to and benefit immensely from this book. Even if you don’t, it’s only $2.99 and no matter which end of the fiscal cliff your standing on, $2.99 isn’t going to make a dent one way or the other.


How long did it take to write the book?

Several years in that it took my time to compile everything and write new pieces.


What inspired you to write the book?

For the most part, comedy and humor that resonates most strongly with me is the type that is just a slightly exaggerated version of real life.  I also prefer humor that is a little gentler and that leans more toward self deprecation.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Because I have a family to support through my regular job as a recruiter, as well all the other obligations tied to raising kids such as driving them to places people my age formerly walked to, I have to work on my writing when time allows and so it may be a few days of intense focus and then a few months where nothing gets written at all.  Regarding research, there are some pieces that are inspired directly by news events and I often cite them at the beginning of the essay to establish the context in which the humor is derived.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Nothing more than a good laugh or two I guess, and the ability to relate to most of the humor in the book — ideally to see their lives in the situations I write about.


Where can we go to buy your book?



Any other links or info you’d like to share?
My blog:


Excerpt from book:


There But For The Grace of God Goes The Weather Reporter

Announcer:  NNN’s Never Ending News Network continues with its award winning, trademark pending, never ending coverage of Hurricane Edna.

Anchorwoman Lindsay Brockport:  Welcome back to NNN.  Hurricane Edna continues to batter the Florida Keys with 165 mile per hour winds.  More than 16 inches of rain has fallen in the past hour and waves have been measured as high as 75 feet.   Thankfully, all islands in the Keys have been evacuated, with the exception of several disaster relief teams who are stationed in specially constructed steel bunkers designed to withstand even the most severe hurricane conditions.   This is truly a storm for the record books and if you were unfortunate enough to still be on one of the Florida Keys, a bunker 35 feet underground is the only place you’d have a chance.  Bill Tremaine, from sister station KKW in Miami is standing by in Key Largo.

Bill Tremain:  Good afternoon, Lindsay.  I’m standing just a hundred yards outside of the disaster relief bunker in Key Largo.  A moment ago I was standing five yards outside the disaster relief bunker but as anyone who has seen, read or heard anything about hurricanes knows – this is what happens when you venture out into 165 mile and hour winds — you get tossed around like a beach ball at a Jimmy Buffet concert.   The rain has really started to pick up as have surf conditions and if I can ask my cameraman Tom to zoom out a bit here, you can see that flooding has started to become a factor as the water is now an inch or two above my  …waist.   (Suddenly desperate, he jams his hand into his pocket and retrieves a rectangular object that when turned over releases a ten second stream of water.)   There goes a $499 Iphone.

Lindsay:  Dire conditions indeed, Bill.  Was that a car and what appeared to be the roofs of several houses flying overhead?

Bill:   Yes it was and to reiterate for those of you who have never seen, read or heard anything about hurricanes, this is typical hurricane behavior.   Torrential rains cause flooding, and gale force winds cause very heavy objects to become briefly airborne until they reestablish themselves in places where they are generally not wanted or (nervously scanning the sky) in some unfortunate situations – not expected.  In fact, Lindsay, experts strongly recommend against being outside in a hurricane.  People get hurt in them, say people like Tom and me here.

Lindsay:   How have you managed to remain stationary while much heavier objects like trailers and cows soar just inches over your head?

Bill:   Sigrid Olsen, my producer, risked her own safety and what is certain to be the irreversible shrinking of her pants suit to lash my legs to this palm tree with a pair of bungee cords.  That’s Sigrid behind me about to reenter the bunker.   (With her back turned, she waves halfheartedly and quickly disappears behind the steel door.)  God bless her.

Lindsay:  What can you tell us about the residents of Key Largo?

Bill:  Judging by the fact that they’re gone, I’d say they possess higher than average intelligence.  It’s unlikely you’d find a reporter in the bunch.  You may have noticed while we were talking that the rain is now starting to come in horizontally which as you know is quite different than vertical rain.

Lindsay:  Yes, and for the sake of our viewers who are wondering about the distinction, vertical rain falls upon the region of the skull where hair is most commonly found while horizontal rain falls upon one’s face, usually hitting the nose first before landing upon the other areas.  Vertical rain is more dangerous of course, particularly for those who wear glasses to see objects more clearly or for those who are in the habit of eating with their mouths open.  Bill, what should people do if exposed to horizontal rain?

Bill:  Experts recommendwiping your glasses off from time to time with a terry cloth towel or soft cotton t-shirt to avoid scratching the lenses.  For people who eat or sleep with their mouths open, it’s best to stay indoors until precipitation forecasts drop to below fifteen percent.  I’m noticing now that the water has risen up to my chin, Lindsay.  Tom and I had better start making our way to higher ground.

Lindsay:  Good idea, it is starting to look a little treacherous out there.  Final thoughts before we wrap up?

Bill:  While we were talking I was thinking about the lyrics to that Petula Clark song, “Don’t sleep in the subway darling.  Don’t stand in the pouring rain.”

Lindsay:  And…?

Bill:  Do you think she was dating a reporter when she wrote that?