Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

Get it here.
Laughing out loud in pubic places while listening to an iPod can be embarrassing. I therefore recommend that this book be read (or listened to) in private.
For such an old book, the humour is remarkably fresh; the 'cheese' episode in particular reminded me of Monty Python. And I use the term episode with consideration. There is no plot to speak of, other than the idea of three men having a holiday on a boat, with incidents and episodes thrown together, seemingly at random, with some very strange short passages which were evidently intended to be taken seriously. I was left quite mystified by the description of the signing of the Magna Carta, and wondered why Jerome included the discovery of a dead woman in the river, complete with tragic back story. Perhaps he had aspirations to be Dickens, who could have pulled it off.
These weaknesses are more than made up for by the humour - not a book to analyse, perhaps, but just to laugh at, and pass on. However, I was left dwelling on the books place in the pantheon of English light literature: it presents a mythical past to us now, describing a world that we long for, and which never really existed; when it was possible to hop in a boat with some chums and forget about the humdrum details of life, when all was high jinks and tomfoolery.

In the spirit of the above, I felt the next book should be 'Love Among the Chickens' by P G Wodehouse, whose imagined past is just as seductive, and even more lacking in reality.

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