Saturday 24 May 2008

A disinclination to work of any kind

This morning I finished Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!), which Fathima recommended to me when I was looking for something to cheer me up after Penny died. I first, for reasons I can't remember now, had to read some sad stuff and a pulpy historical novel, but I'm really glad I read this one relatively sooner rather than later. It gave me many good belly laughs, a plethora of chuckles, and a burning desire to spend two weeks on the Thames in a boat with my best pals and a dog given to making enemies of tea kettles.

Jerome has been compared to P.G. Wodehouse and I can see why but I think maybe Jerome was a bit weirder. This sort-of-novel (based, apparently, on his honeymoon!!! You'll understand why I needed to use three exclamation points in a row here if you've read the book) is more of a collection of seemingly unconnected vignettes combined with a travel pamphlet on the Thames written by someone with bi-polar disorder (but mildly and charmingly expressed).

Three Men in a Boat is also somehow both a send-up of the laziness of the leisured young gentleman and a manifesto in favour of laziness. The narrator and his friends evince a persistent "disinclination to work of any kind" and I have to say, Jerome made this sound pretty attractive at the same time that it was guffaw-worthy. I think Jerome K. Jerome might be my new literary boyfriend.

NB: My husband and I watched a great film tonight called Death at a Funeral, which I feel certain Jerome would have enjoyed as well. You should watch it, and not just because it was directed by the voice of Fozzie Bear.


Anonymous said...

his honeymoon? aahahaha. that is incredible. i want to meet his significant other. maybe she was his muse.
Three Men on the Bummel is also pretty good, though i liked Boat better.

Bookphilia said...

I've been keeping an eye out for Three Men on the Bummel but in the meantime have picked up a book of essays...something like Idle Thoughts by an Idle Fellow.