Author Discusses “The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories”

Why I wrote “The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories”

By John Hartnett

I decided to write The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories when I realized my wife would let me get out of certain household obligations as long as I was “working.”  For six years, the project was progressing very well and I was very satisfied with what I was putting down on paper until the day my wife took a break from insulating the attic and while I was in the shower, found my manuscript and discovered that what I was putting down on paper was 200 pages filled with little stick men fishing, playing tennis and leaping in the air, arms and legs akimbo.

The Barber's Conundrum and Other StoriesAfter that, I started the book for real and finished the whole thing in 72 hours, which was all the time my wife would gave me to wrap everything up before she started shopping for a divorce lawyer.

I’m kidding.  My wife is my biggest supporter and figures prominently in the book and in its publication.  In truth, many of the pieces were written for a string of local newspapers in NJ in a weekly humor column called “Now What?”.   I supplemented those pieces with new ones and published the book in December 2012.

I am often asked to cite individuals who influence or inspire my writing and the list is quite long.  I’m a big fan of comedy and my biggest influences growing up and later in life are (in no particular order), Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Bob & Ray, Jean Shepard (on the radio and his books—not so much the movie, “A Christmas Story”), Jack Benny, Johnny Carson, Rodney Dangerfield, Woody Allen, Garry Shandling, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bob Newhart, everyone in SCTV (Second City Television) which includes Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty, Martin Short, John Candy and Eugene Levy, Steven Wright and Christopher Guest (all of his movies).  I think the one comedic attribute they all have share is the ability to humorously convey the day to day trials and tribulations of the “common man”.

I wrote this book with the sole intention of giving readers a little bit of a break – ideally stories and situations to identify with, feel good about and most importantly, laugh at.   Nothing’s too heavy, there’s no profanity and most of the real biting humor is directed at myself.  I wonder what Freud would say about that.

I sincerely hope you like it.  And buy it.  Of course, buy it.  God, I’m a horrible marketer.

— John Hartnett, author of The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories

Earlybird Publishing, paperback: 122 pages

Available at

The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories is more than just a collection of thirty-seven short literary humor pieces that will make you laugh. It provides a treasure trove of tips and invaluable advice to help you navigate safely through marriage and relationships, raising kids and to finally understand the more peculiar aspects of day to day living that up until now, had been tossed into a big heap as just another one of God’s mysteries.”