Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Wise Man Builds His House of Wode

A Wodehouse MiscellanyA Wodehouse Miscellany by P.G. Wodehouse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection I found to be hit and miss. However, Wodehouse is hard for me to judge, rather the same way that I would have difficulty distinguishing between Zoltan Kocsis and Lang Lang (may God and Mr. Appel forgive me for mentioning them in the same breath): I haven't yet fully developed the taste for Rachmaninov that I shall one day have, and therefore I don't have sufficient authority, either as a professional or as a lover, to intelligently discern betwixt the magnificent and the technically correct.

All this aside, Wodehouse is hilarious. He can't help but be hilarious. When he describes his ears as being large and "attached at right angles" and his overall appearance as tending toward the ailing piscine, I have a very justifiable reason to giggle at the image. When he describes the seventh of his nine holes of indoor golf, I lose a solid half-pound in burned calories and discover exactly what new colours appear after abstaining from air for forty seconds. (Leave it to Psmith is still my all time favorite comic work, particularly the application of socialist principles to an especially fine umbrella.) So, perhaps my taste is still developing and I shall look back on this as one of his greater works. Also, the application of wax to a floor is not particularly conducive to the appreciation of nuanced dry humour, but I still fear that this collection was not exactly his greatest.

Still, even with my lack of palate, I cannot overemphasize the playful joy of his prose: "Moths had nested in his wallet and raised large families," or, "he was a tubby chap, who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say when," or, "he looked ever more like a pterodactyl with a secret sorrow." Wodehouse is a necessary ingredient for a happy life. Just take care if you are reading him at the breakfast table that you take bites between sentences, and not in the midst of them, for his jokes be not of ruth and they enter the scenes as silently as Jeeves.

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