I'm rereading Missionary Stew by Ross Thomas. You want brilliant dialogue? Here's brilliant dialogue. The protagonist Draper Haere, a cunning political op, runs into a ww two friend of his father's named Replogle. He learns that Replogle is near death with inoperable cancer.
Replogle says he's already had Thanksgiving.
"It's still two weeks away" says Haere.
"Not at my house. At my house they had Thanksgiving last Thursday on account of they don't think I'm going to last through Christmas, which sure as hell won't bother me too much."
Replogle paused and put his cigarette out in the car's ashtray. "Well, they're all there, Maureen's family, gathered around the table--her three brothers, already half in the bag, and their godawful wives, and maybe half a dozen assorted nephews, all of them nine feet tall and out of work, and Maureen's old man who's ninety-two and barking about how he's not going to eat any fucking turkey because what he really wants is Salisbury steak. That's what they always call hamburger in Maureen's family. Salisbury steak."
"So there we all are, the pot smoke so thick you can cut it, my brothers-in-law- shitfaced, my sisters-in-law arguing about what TV show they're going to watch, Maureen's old man complaining about his goddamn Salisbury steak being too rare, and suddenly Maureen announces that we're going around the table so everybody can say what they're got to be thankful for--starting with me."
"Exactly. Well, they're all looking at me and I just sat there and I didn't say anything for awhile. And then I said `What the fuck have I got to be thankful for? I've got cancer.' Well, you should've seen their faces." Replogle chuckled at the memory and then said, as if repeating a favorite punch line, `What the fuck have I got to be thankful for? I've got cancer."
After that he started to laugh and he went on laughing until Draper Haere joined in out of what he later decided was self-defense.