Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Literary Lapses

Lord love Leacock! This book is brilliant.

Today, I'm going to aim to be a little more Leacockian in my words and deeds.

Here's a small sampling of some favourite quips:

"If a girl desires to woo you, before allowing her to press her suit, ask her if she knows how to press yours. If she can, let her woo; if not, tell her to whoa." (So sexist, but such fun with words that I'm willing to let it slide...) (p. 29)

"You know, many a man realizes late in life that if when he was a boy he had known what he knows now, instead of being what he is he might be what he won't; but how few boys stop ot think that if they knew what they don't know instead of being what they will be, they wouldn't be? These are awful thoughts." (p. 19)

My favourite stories:

-My Financial Career
-The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones
-How to Make a Million Dollars
-The New Food
-A New Pathology
-Number Fifty-Six
-The Conjurer's Revenge
-Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas (this will be read aloud this December, I promise you that)
-The Life of John Smith
-On Collecting Things
-Borrowing a Match
-Helping the Armenians

The Inimitable Jeeves

I just finished The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. This is my first foray into the Peej's stories and i think it's safe to say that my curiosity has been satiated.

Although my conclusion's a bit backwards (having read Alexander McCall Smith's stuff first), I'd like to assert that the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series that I read earlier this summer is decidedly Wodehousian.

Anyway, The I.J. was 50c well spent at the Rockliffe Book Fair last fall.

The best things about Bertie Wooster are:

-his penchant for short forms ('I could feel the persp. starting on my forehead' and 'that was understandable, given the circs')

-his illuminating nicknames ("I took a sip of the fragrant and steaming")

-and also his love of flashy fasions: mauve shirts, purple socks, blinding cummerbunds, and jazz spats in Eton's trademark hues. (Life's better in colour; I'm with you on that one, Bertie, buddy.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Not Wanted on the Voyage

My first foray into Timothy Findley has left me with mixed feelings. Not Wanted On the Voyage has an incredibly appealing preface, but after that, things get a little too bizarre and (on occasion) a little too boring!

I have a deep respect for any artist willing to explore the gaps in long-accepted truth, to feel around in the dark caves of uncertainty and make guesses about the odd shapes they're grabbing at (that's what I call creativity), so when I started this book, I had incredibly high hopes.

The Preface is brilliant. It gives good reason to hope so highly. Here's a taste:

"And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him into the ark, because of the waters of the flood..." (Genesis 7:7)

Everyone knows it wasn't like that.

To begin with, they make it sound as if there wasn't any argument; as if there wasn't any panic... an excursion.

Well. It wasn't an excursion. It was the end of the world.

After that, things get a little depressing. There are some beautiful, bleak moments, such as this one:

Mrs. Noyes was all at once acutely aware of the darkness and the walls around her and the roof above her and the floor below. Her arms ached -- and part of the ache was the memory of why they were in pain. We are truly captives here, she thought; every one of us -- and yet they have called this: being saved.

Maybe that was what she had meant by safety and sadness: that she and all these creatures with her shared their captivity in a way they could never have shared the wood. That when you are caught in the same trap, you share the same fear of darkness and of walls and you also have the same enemy. You fear the same jailer. You share the dream of freedom -- waiting, all together for the same door to open. You also learn to survive together in ways the uncaged would never think of.

The ultimate message, however, that God is dead and that this God-less world, where compassion must bow to paranoid patriarchal fanatics, doesn't exactly make Mr. Findley's novel good bedside reading material.

It is, however, simply because of its subject matter, a fun book to read in the tub. (I'm not the first to admit that: Bill Richardson's Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast makes a similar proclamation...)