10.06.2010

Currently Reading: Psmith in the City

Mr Rossiter refused to pass on.

'What are you doing here? What have you come for?'

'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.'

Author: P.G. Wodehouse

Synopsis: When Mike Jackson's father runs into financial difficulty, Mike is taken from his school and his cricket games and sent to London to work in the New Asiatic Bank. Fortunately, his school friend Psmith, newly employed in the same bank, has decided to look out for him.

Notes: I remember my family joking at some point, in some unremembered context, about the possibility of putting a silent Q before the name Sam. Qsam, pronounced just as Sam always is. Apparently we were not the first to think of such a thing, because Wodehouse's Psmith has been around for a hundred years.

My brain always tries to pronounce the P. And for that matter, I have a hard time remembering that Wodehouse should sound like Woodhouse instead of rhyming with roadhouse. That being the case, it's probably good that my first encounter with both Psmith and his creator came in audiobook form. Granted, Psmith was a little annoying at first and I couldn't speed up the iPod to skim past his determined foppery, but by the end of the story I was completely hooked.

At the moment I can't believe it took me 32 years to get around to reading something by Wodehouse. This was a hilarious piece of good old-fashioned clean British comedy: exaggerated characters, over-the-top dialogue, and goofball adventures wrapped in very proper mannerly packaging. It's the same sort of humor (I feel guilty not including a second u there, but I live in America) that I love in Dickens and Austen and Rowling.

I don't expect this book to be the last I ever read of his work.

Recommendation: Of course! Perhaps with some tea and muffin, or brandy and a cigar, depending on your tastes.

4 comments:

  1. Haven't heard of this Wodehouse story before. I have been acquainted with Jeeves & Wooster though & a few other Wodehouse short stories. Good stuff.

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  2. I need to get to know Jeeves & Wooster one of these days.

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  3. Just finished PSmith in the City. If you liked this you will adored the later PSmith books. It's just too sad that there are no more. Jeeves & W did nothing for me. PSmith however, now here's a chap I could read about for the rest of my days!

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  4. Good to know, Riz! I have every intention of reading them eventually. Thanks for stopping by!

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