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I knew this day would come, and come it has; I've started reading Wodehouse.

I occasionally take direction for non-essential life-choices from random accretions of circumstance. In this case, Wodehouse came to the forefront of my attention twice this past week. First, I read a note about Jasper Fforde winning the P.G. Wodehouse prize for best comic novel, an award which includes a case of champagne and a live pig. Then, in perusing back issues of The New Yorker, I came upon an article by Anthony Lane about (among other things) his love for Wodehouse. I decided it was time to take the plunge.

I read a few Wodehouse stories some years back, and was bowled over by the writing -- this was a master of the perfect line, a man who could make prose written in 1915 seem absolutely vibrant, and it was funny in a way that nothing since Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat had struck me. So I checked out his bibliography, and saw that he had written a great many books and a great many stories in a great many different (but sometimes subtly interlocking) universes -- so many stories and books that I didn't think it would be a good idea to dive into it just then. I was educating myself in science fiction at the time, you see, reading the complete works of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and devouring every Year's Best anthology I could get my hands on. I suspected that once I started reading Wodehouse, I wouldn't want to stop until I was finished (which is what happened when I started reading Connie Willis, but she's written far fewer things, and I got through her complete works in a month or so). It would be a considerable layout of time, you see. I also knew that reading everything by Wodehouse would be a great pleasure, and that if I put it off, I would have it to look forward to, and the thought of it has, indeed, given me an anticipatory smile many times in subsequent years.

But, as I said, omens collided; I've been thinking a fair bit about comic stories lately, and about the uses of humor in fiction; and nothing else I was picking up to read was properly engaging the gears in my head. So this weekend, I hit one of the used bookstores and picked up Enter Jeeves, a collection of the first eight "Jeeves" stories and all the "Reggie Pepper" stories (Reggie was his first series character). I got another book, too, in a different series, but I'll mention that one when I start reading it. I've been gobbling the stories, because Wodehouse stories are wonderful for binge-reading -- light and hilarious and, god, the perfect lines, the timing, the turn of phrase. I'm going to be reading Wodehouse for a while, I think (with diversions, of course, because too much of anything gets dull eventually).

So that's something I don't have to look forward to anymore. Ah, well. I can still look forward to someday educating myself about jazz music and fine scotch...

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