Book Log – The Man With Two Left Feet

The Man With Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse

Another Wodehouse collection of short stories available from Project Gutenberg.

Quote from a Jeeves and Wooster story, Extricating Young Gussie.

New York is a large city conveniently situated on the edge of America, so that you step off the liner right on to it without an effort. You can’t lose your way. You go out of a barn and down some stairs, and there you are, right in among it.

What’s odd about this Jeeves and Wooster story is that Jeeves plays almost no part in it, aside from a few “yes, sir”s and “What suit would you like to wear?” As such, it really isn’t a Jeeves and Wooster story except in name. It’s as if Wodehouse had the idea for a story but couldn’t be bothered to invent some new characters to tell it. Odd, that.

Otherwise, standard issue Wodehouse.

Book Log – Love Among The Chickens

Love Among The Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse
[via Project Gutenberg]

A Ukridge story, another of Wodehouse’s eccentrics. Clueless city-dweller attempts to start a chicken farm with no notion of how to raise chickens. He for some reason figures that if you can incubate an egg in 1 week by setting it at temperature X, you should be able to incubate it in 2 weeks set at temperature 1/2 X…. silly stuff like that.

An okay Wodehouse, of novelette length.

Book Log – Leave It To Psmith

Leave It To Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

Another much appreciated loan from curt_holman, this was both the final Psmith novel chronologically and the last one left for me to read.

I stumbled across a very good Wodehouse book chronology, which clears up some confusion I had in titles…

1909: Mike: A Public School Story, a two part novel, the first later revised and published as Mike at Wrykyn and the second revised and published twice as Enter Psmith and Mike and Psmith.
1910: Psmith in the City
1915: Psmith, Journalist
1915: Something Fresh (in the U.S., Something New), not a Psmith story, but the original story taking place in Blandings Castle, the setting for…
1923: Leave It To Psmith

I read on a website that Leave It is not on Project Gutenberg because, due to its later publishing date, it is somehow included in the extended copyright as fallout from the “Disney rat” copyright extension stuff that went on.

Were I an English major or some such thing, I might take the time to track recurring plot elements in stories such as flowerpots, stolen valuables, obnoxious poets, etc. in all Wodehouse’s works. You could probably set up a family tree and track the mix and match use of such things through the stories.

The first Jeeves and Wooster book of short stories was published in 1919, I believe from a series of magazine columns. In a way, I imagine Wodehouse taking the Psmith character, who begins as a member of the idle rich and ends as a gentleman’s personal secretary, and splitting him in two: Jeeves the gentleman’s personal gentleman taking the impeccable style and high intelligence, and Wooster the idle gentleman taking a propensity to talk incessantly and turn a nice phrase.

An excerpt, dialog between Psmith and his fiance Eve, shortly after becoming engaged:

[Eve] ‘When I met Cynthia at Market Blandings, she told me what the trouble was which made her husband leave her. What do you suppose it was?’

‘From my brief acquaintance with Comrade McTodd, I would hazard the guess that he tried to stab her with the bread-knife. He struck me as a murderous-looking specimen.’

‘They had some people to dinner, and there was chicken, and Cynthia gave all the giblets to the guests, and her husband bounded out of his seat with a wild cry, and, shouting “You know I love those things better than anything in the world!” rushed from the house, never to return!’

‘Precisely how I would have wished him to rush, had I been Mrs. McTodd.’

‘Cynthia told me that he had rushed from the house, never to return, six times since they were married.’

‘May I mention — in passing –‘ said Psmith, ‘that I do not like chicken giblets?’

‘Cynthia advised me,’ proceeded Eve, ‘if ever I married, to marry someone eccentric. She said it was such fun… Well, I don’t suppose I am ever likely to meet anyone more eccentric than you, am I?’

‘I think you would be unwise to wait on the chance.’

If I had read that before performing the ceremony for my brother-in-law’s wedding, I might have worked it in to the script. Probably best that I didn’t.

Just as an aside, the P.G. Wodehouse Quote generator

Book Log – The Little Warrior

The Little Warrior by P.G. Wodehouse

Another fine Wodehousian tale of a riches to rags to the stage to riches.

Apparently, in the early 1900’s, it was nothing to just walk into a Broadway show and get a part. At least, Wodehouse would have you think so. I suspended my disbelief, as is often necessary in a typical Wodehouse tale where in all of New York and London there are only 8-10 people who keep running into each other in preposterous situations.

Quote I liked:

“Fibs, my dear,—or shall we say, artistic mouldings of the unshapely clay of truth—are the … how shall I put it? … Well, anyway,they come in dashed handy.”

There were a couple others I bookmarked, but they just don’t translate out of context.

Book Log – Mike and Psmith

Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

I believe the first Psmith novel, where Mike and Psmith meet at a small private high school that they’ve both been “sentenced” to for separate reasons.

From the introduction by Wodehouse:

This was the first appearance of Psmith. He came into two other books,Psmith in the City and Psmith, Journalist, before becoming happily married in Leave It to Psmith, but I have always thought that he was most at home in this story of English school life. To give full play to his bland clashings with Authority he needs to have authority to clash with, and there is none more absolute than that of the masters at an English school.

I think you had to have gone to an English school, because I liked the Psmith, Journalist and Psmith in the City better. Not to disparage this one, as it was a fine read as well. The main reason I clipped that is to remind myself that Leave It to Psmith exists out there somewhere, though not on Project Gutenberg.

Psmith, on being introduced to Mike:

“Do I look as if I belonged here? I’m the latest import. Sit down on yonder settee, and I will tell you the painful story of my life. By the way, before I start, there’s just one thing. If you ever have occasion to write to me, would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. See? There are too many Smiths, and I don’t care for Smythe. My father’s content to worry along in the old-fashioned way, but I’ve decided to strike out a fresh line. I shall found a new dynasty. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won’t), or simply Smith, the P not being sounded. Compare the name Zbysco, in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-balk. See?”

Book Log – Psmith in the City

Psmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse

The character of Psmith grows on me, but I fear that I’ve run out of Psmith books.

Rupert Psmith of the Shropshire Psmiths (he added the silent P himself to the family name to start his own dynasty) is a wealthy force of nature, overwhelming adverse circumstances through sheer force of personality. In this novel,Psmith and his Watson-equivalent Mike Jackson take on early 1900s commerce in the form of a Bank in order to exact revenge on one of upper management for interrupting their game of Cricket some months prior.

Excerpt from Psmith’s first encounter with his boss:

‘Work,’ said Psmith, with simple dignity. ‘I am now a member of the staff of this bank. Its interests are my interests. Psmith, the individual, ceases to exist, and there springs into being Psmith, the cog in the wheel of the New Asiatic Bank; Psmith, the link in the bank’s chain; Psmith, the Worker. I shall not spare myself,’ he proceeded earnestly. ‘I shall toil with all the accumulated energy of one who, up till now, has only known what work is like from hearsay. Whose is that form sitting on the steps of the bank in the morning,waiting eagerly for the place to open? It is the form of Psmith, the Worker. Whose is that haggard, drawn face which bends over a ledger long after the other toilers have sped blithely westwards to dine at Lyons’ Popular Cafe? It is the face of Psmith, the Worker.’

‘I–‘ began Mr Rossiter.

‘I tell you,’ continued Psmith, waving aside the interruption and tapping the head of the department rhythmically in the region of the second waistcoat-button with a long finger, ‘I tell _you_, Comrade Rossiter, that you have got hold of a good man. You and I together, not forgetting Comrade Jackson, the pet of the Smart Set, will toil early and late till we boost up this Postage Department into a shining model of what a Postage Department should be. What that is, at present, I do not exactly know. However. Excursion trains will be run from distant shires to see this Postage Department. American visitors to London will do it before going on to the Tower. And now,’ he broke off, with a crisp, businesslike intonation, ‘I must ask you to excuse me. Much as I have enjoyed this little chat, I fear it must now cease. The time has come to work. Our trade rivals are getting ahead of us. The whisper goes round, “Rossiter and Psmith are talking, not working,” and other firms prepare to pinch our business. Let me Work.’

I just like the way he talks.