Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #143: Galahad at Blandings

Sometimes you just don't feel like reading anything. Those days, a glance at the to-be-read shelves (or scrolling the list on your e-reader, or perusing the shelves of a store or library) brings no joy, just a deep feeling of ennui and dissatisfaction with everything in the world.

Every reader needs to find a way to get past that reader's block -- for every one of us, there's something (an author, or genre, or style) that we can read even when we don't really feel like reading, and will bring us back into happy reading again.

For me, P.G. Wodehouse does the trick. He wrote around a hundred books in his long life, and I've still got two dozen or so that I haven't even read once yet, so there will be something new to break me out of a reading funk for a long time to come. (And, if ever that doesn't work, I could break out the big guns: re-reading Joy in the Morning, or Leave It to Psmith, or Uncle Fred in the Springtime.)

This week, I was in a funk like that: nothing looked appealing, nothing looked interesting. So I grabbed Galahad at Blandings, from very late in Wodehouse's career (1964, when he was in his 80s, though still a decade and a number of novels away from the final FINIS) and out of his second-best series, to pep me up.

And it did the trick. Oh, I wouldn't recommend Galahad for a first-time Wodehouse reader: its plot is a bit muddled, and ends too patly, with three young couples kept apart by intertwined troubles and a lot of motifs that Wodehouse had handled better in earlier books. But it's frothy and light and fun, a sweet souffle of a novel, in which the irrepressible elderly man-about-town Galahad Threepwood tries to make the course of young love run smooth wherever he sees it, despite nasty children, frightening sisters, over-zealous policemen, misplaced snobbery, and the usual raft of misunderstandings.

Wodehouse found his niche early, and he kept with it zealously over his long career, so his books are remarkably uniform in affect: sunny and madcap, complicated and silly, beautiful in the way only something completely useless can be. Even his least novels are uplifting and joyful; Wodehouse's world is one where happy endings are inevitable and all of the bizarre complications along the way just serve to make the lovers' embrace at the end that much sweeter. I'm sure there are people who don't like Wodehouse, but I have to believe that there's something desperately wrong with them.

This particular book did the trick for me, and a stronger book -- I mentioned a few candidates above, but anything from the '20s and '30s is a good bet -- should do the same for just about anyone.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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