Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Instead of selling books

I'm lazing around in the sun. It's one of those perfect Maine days - sunny and dry, cool in the shade, hot in the sun, 70 degrees and breezy. I weeded the garden for an hour or two, sketched nasturtiums in my gardening journal, foraged for ripe blackberries, and sat on a blanket reading a few wildly improbable but highly entertaining P.G. Wodehouse stories from The World of Mr. Mulliner (Taplinger 1974; I bought a hardcover for a dollar at a tiny library sale last Saturday morning). In his unpaginated introduction to this collection, Wodehouse mentions the fine art of procrastinating:

"Authors as a class are not men who like to work. Just as, according to Shakespeare, snails creep unwillingly to school, so do writers of wholesome fiction slow up as they approach their desks. I myself have probably sharpened as many pencils and cleaned out as many pipes before getting down to it as any man in the business."

Wodehouse continues by saying that these stories flowed "as if someone had turned a tap." They certainly read that way - easy, funny, chuckle-inducing. Finally, a book that warns that you, the reader, will laugh out loud as you read it (you know those irritating blurbs - "laugh-out-loud funny" - when it isn't) and it actually delivers the goods. I was chuckling. Sometimes simply at his use of names. Places: Lower-Briskett-in-the-Midden; Tooting East; Bingley-on-Sea. People: Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere; Myrtle Banks, Algy Wymondham-Wymondham. I intended to do book-work today, and here I am, feeling like I am scarfing down bon-bons instead, as I consume these stories one after another. Well, what else are the last days of summer for, I ask you, if not for making hay. If I may mix my metaphors.

You certainly know how to enjoy life, ma'am! My favourite Wodehouse character is Lord Havershot, partly because he resembles a gorilla.
Wodehouse is one of my crutches. I always have him handy to help me set blech days adrift. I am also completely incapable of leaving any of his books behind at a book sale, even if I *know* I already have a copy. I keep telling myself I need to invest in the handsome Overlook Press editions and just be done with it.
My protestant work ethic often leaves me incapable of truly "taking a day off" hence the Wodehouse - and books in general - as a useful distraction from my busy brain. So yes, Gorilla, I usually fit a lot in each day!

EB, good to hear from you - I admire those Overlook reprints too, such lovely little books. They would look fine taking up an entire bookcase, wouldn't they...
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?