Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On "Love among the Chickens" by P. G. Wodehouse ***

Save one story, I haven't read P. G. Wodehouse since high school, and then I only managed to read one book. I remember then being disappointed that I hadn't discovered him earlier. You see, in high school, we had to read four thousand pages a year outside of class to earn an A in English. Senior year was British literature, and our teacher demanded we read only Brits. So I was stuck reading the Victorians--that is, mostly a lot of stuff I didn't particularly care for. In the last quarter of the year, I discovered Evelyn Waugh and P. G. Wodehouse. By then, however, my reading list was coming to an end. Had I known of them at the start of the year, I have a feeling that a good chunk of senior year would have been spent reading their works. I also figure I'd have ended up doing the senior paper on one of them; instead, I settled on Thomas Hardy, the Victorian I could stomach the most.

Why I never made it back to Waugh or Wodehouse, I'm not sure. It's not for lack of reading. And it's not for lack of wanting to read more. I've just been distracted by others, I suppose.

But now, coming to Wodehouse twenty years later, he doesn't seem as fresh or funny, at least not in this particular book. The story of a man who is cajoled into working on a chicken farm with his friend and who in turn falls in love with a local woman seems a bit stock in terms of the characters and even some of the plot twists. Is it me, this book, or Wodehouse that is the reason for my relative disappointment? That I won't know unless I read another. Of course, that might be another twenty years.

The text itself I actually listened to, on my walk home each night, now that it's dark as I leave work. And the audio available online for free is, in fact, quite good. One thing I can say for Wodehouse is that his work, as light and modern as it is, is sure a lot more enjoyable to listen to than one of those verbose Victorians, even if a bit stock. Read the novel here. Listen to it here.

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