I’ve been reading Wodehouse lately. I read some of his books on my Kindle as well (8, according to my updates on goodreads – it’s hard to keep track), but it’s harder to take pictures of those – for a complete list, go here or here.
Wodehouse’ novels are nice because you can pretty much read one each day even if you have other stuff going on as well, as least if you have a few hours you don’t know what to do with each day. According to one estimate from Statistics Denmark which I’ve blogged before, the average Dane spends something like 3 hours and 20 minutes per day watching TV; if they spent that time reading books like these ones instead, there’d be a lot more Danes reading more than 100 books per year than there are.
Over the last year or two I’ve in general limited my blogging of fiction to a minimum, and I’ve also actually dedicated a lot of effort into making this blog as mind-numbingly boring and irrelevant as possible. So of course it feels terrible to have to take this step now; to start suddenly blogging books which have a strong tendency to make their readers laugh and enjoy themselves. But there’s no way around it – this is stuff that’s easy to blog, and a very plausible alternative to me seems to be ‘no blogging’. I hope that by blogging books like these I’ll be able to sustain a relatively regular blogging schedule in the period to come. There’s no work involved in reading the books any longer, which should be very helpful; I already read the books, and I have more than 20 to choose from now in terms of what to cover. Wodehouse’ books are really funny, and my impression is that they’ll be easy for me to blog, in the sense that there’s a lot of funny stuff in those books and you can get away with quoting from the books without spoiling anything much. On the other hand as the picture illustrates these are mostly paper books, which are not as easy to blog as e-books are; I may find that these posts actually take so much time and effort that not much work is saved by switching (at the very least partially) to this sort of coverage. We’ll see how it goes.
I should mention that although I only discovered Wodehouse earlier this year, he’s already on my top five list of fiction authors (Terry Pratchett and Agatha Christie also belong on such a list, as do probably George R. R. Martin and Jasper Fforde – but it’s hard; there are a lot of good authors…).
The first book I’ll cover is Big Money, which I gave 4 stars on goodreads. Below I have added some quotes from the book to illustrate how Wodehouse writes and what he writes about.
“‘I wish I could find some way of making a bit of money,’ he said, resuming his remarks. ‘I don’t seem able to do it, racing. And I don’t seem able to do it at Bridge. But there must be some method. Look at all the wealthy blighters you see running around. They’ve managed to find it. I read a book the other day where a bloke goes up to another bloke in the street – and whispers in his ear – the first bloke does – “A word with you, sir!” Addressing the second bloke, you understand. “A word with you, sir. I know your secret!” Upon which, the second bloke turns ashy white and supports him in luxury for the rest of his life. I thought there might be something in it.’
‘About seven years, I should think.'”
“A low moan escaped Mr Frisby. His face, which was rather like that of a horse, twisted in pain. Of the broad principle of his sister going to Japan he approved, Japan being further away than New York. What rived his very soul was that she should be squandering her cash to tell him so [over the telephone]. A picture postcard from Tokyo, with a cross and a ‘This is my room’ against one of the windows of a hotel, would have met the case. […]
‘Do you know what she did last week?’
Mr Frisby gave a lifelike imitation of a man who has just discovered that he is sitting on an ant’s nest.’How the devil should I know what she did last week? Do you think I’m a clairvoyant?'”
“Lord Hoddesdon gasped.
‘You don’t imagine I would be fool enough to go touching Frisby?’
‘Wasn’t that your idea?’
‘Of course not. Certainly not. I was thinking – er – I was wondering – well, to tell you the truth, it crossed my mind that you might possibly be willing to part with a trifle.’
‘It did, eh?’
‘I don’t see why you shouldn’t, said Lord Hoddesdon plaintively. ‘You must have plenty. There’s a lot of money in this chaperoning business. When you took on that Argentine girl three years ago you got a couple of thousand pounds.’
‘I got fifteen hundred,’ corrected his sister. ‘In a moment of weakness – I can’t imagine what I was thinking of – I lent you the rest.’
‘Er – well, yes,’ said Lord Hoddesdon, not unembarrassed. ‘That is, in a measure, true. It comes back to me now.’
‘It didn’t come back to me – ever,’ said Lady Vera”.
“Ever since she had read in her paper that morning the plain, blunt statement that she was engaged to be married, she had been feeling oddly pensive. […] A sudden thirst for information seized her. She leaned towards her host.
‘Tell me about Godfrey,’ she said abruptly.
‘Eh?’ said Lord Hoddesdon, blinking. […] ‘What about him?’
It was a question which Ann found difficult to answer. ‘What sort of man is he?’ she would have liked to say. But when you have agreed to marry a man, it seems silly to ask what sort of man he is.
‘Well, what was he like as a little boy?’ she said, feeling that that was safe. […]
‘Boyish and vivacious,’ […] ‘Full of spirits. But always,’ he said impressively, ‘good.’
‘Good?’ said Ann with a slight shiver.
‘Always the soul of honour,’ said Lord Hoddesdon solemnly. Ann shivered again. Clarence Dumphry had been the soul of honour. She had often caught him at it.”
“A man who has so recently become engaged to be married as Lord Biskerton has, of course, no right to stare appreciatively at strange girls. But this is what Biscuit found himself doing. The fact that Ann Moon had accepted his hand had done nothing to impair his eyesight”.
“There are two schools of thought concerning the correct method of dealing with small boys who throw stones at their elders and betters in the public street. Some say they should be kicked, others that they should be smacked on the head. Lord Hoddesdon, no bigot, did both.”
“‘Biscuit,’ said Berry, ‘the most extraordinary thing has happened. There’s a girl …’
‘A girl, eh?’ said the Biscuit, interested. He began to see daylight. ‘Who is she?’
‘What?’ asked Berry, whose attention had wandered.
‘I said, who is she?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘What’s her name?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Where does she live?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You aren’t an Encyclopedia, old boy, are you?’ said the Biscuit. […]
‘Either a man clicks or he does not click,’ said the Biscuit firmly. ‘There are no half measures. You did?’
‘I think she was – pleased to see me.’
‘Ah! Well, then, of course you proceeded to ask her name?’
‘I hadn’t time.’
‘Did you ask her where she lived?’
‘Did she ask you your name?’
‘Did she ask you where you lived?’
‘What the dickens did you talk about?’ asked the Biscuit, curiously. ‘The situation in Russia?'”
“Mr Robbins, of Robbins, Robbins, Robbins, and Robbins, solicitors and Commissioners for Oaths, was just the sort of man you would have expected him to be after hearing his voice on the telephone.”
“‘I can’t stand Paris. I hate the place. Full of people talking French”.
“Few things in life are more embarrassing than the necessity of having to inform an old friend that you have just got engaged to his fiancée.”
“‘We’re engaged,’ he said.
‘Fine!’ said the Biscuit. ‘So you’re engaged? Well, well!’
‘Just to this one girl, I suppose?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You always were a prudent, level-headed fellow who knew where to stop,’ said the Biscuit enviously. ‘I’m engaged to two girls.’
The Biscuit sighed.
‘Yes, two. And I’m hoping that you may have a word of advice to offer on the subject. Otherwise, I see a slightly tangled future ahead of me.’
‘Two?’ said Berry, dazed.
‘Two,’ said the Biscuit. ‘I’ve counted them over and over again, but that’s what the sum keeps working out at. I started, if you remember, with one. So far, so good. A steady, conservative policy. But complications have now arisen.”