January 28, 2010

Wodehouse: A Life ***

*** Wodehouse: A Life, Robert McCrum, 2004

I've had this for a long time, staring at me accusingly from the shelf. The thing is, I love Wodehouse. He's in my top ten, maybe even the top three. At least the top five. It's not like it's a official list or anything. I mean, I've never worked it out on paper, but the point is, I love Wodehouse. [Note: Despite how it's spelled, his name is pronounced Woodhouse.)

The reason it's been on the shelf for so long is that it has at least a rat-killing book on the BLCS scale. But I recently realized that books higher on the BLCS are perfect for reading on the elliptical, since they tend to stay open easier than a small paperback. So last year I pulled it down and gave it a go. It took me 3 or 4 months to get through it, in 40-minute sessions.

Thankfully, it passed the Elliptical Test with flying colors. In fact, I actually looked forward to working out because I wanted to read this book. [Perhaps I should create an Ellipitcal Book Classification System (EBCS) as well, indicating to what degree it distracts one from the unpleasantness of one's activity. If I did that, this book would be at the top, making me want to work out.]

Besides learning about the life of Wodehouse, which was the point of the book, it being a biography and all, there was the inspirational aspect of it. I'm in the middle of the first draft of a new novel (I tweet random choice lines as I write them.) and the more I read about Wodehouse and his writing, the more it made me want to go and write. Immediately.

Here's a sample P. G. quote about writing from the book:

The only way a writer can keep himself up to the mark is by examining each story quite coldly before he starts writing it and asking himself if it is all right as a story. I mean once you start saying to yourself, "This is a pretty weak plot as it stands, but I'm such a hell of a writer that my magic touch will make it all right," I believe you're done.

The funny thing is, that part in quotation marks kind of describes the Fred Books. The plot is not that structured but the writing makes up for it. One of the reasons I spent the last three years learning to write screenplays is to help me with plotting. And it has. The current work in progress is plotted to the nines. It might even be plot heavy, or plotty, as they say. I'm sure somebody says that.

So, back to Wodehouse, if you haven't read him, you should. You can find some of his stuff on Gutenburg.org (get Right Ho, Jeeves) and, of course, at the book store or the library. Check him out. And if you're a writer or a Wodehouse fan, this book is a great read, too.

No comments: