Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Question of the Day Featuring Michael Phillips

Angel Harp: A Novel
Question 13 of 25

What is the last book you read?

One of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories. I don’t actually remember which one. I read them all continuously. I just finished one yesterday and started another immediately. The titles all blur together. The Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings stories by Wodehouse are pure farce, without any redeeming qualities whatever. But Wodehouse, in my opinion, is the greatest word technician in the English language. Maybe it’s because he also strikes my funny bone that I revere him so highly. I may have read a line five or six times—I think I’ve read all the books at least that many times—yet I will LOL again every time I come to it. It’s not just the humor itself. The plots are inane and most of the books have basically the same plot. My wife Judy thinks I’m a little nuts. She considers the books nonsense. I’m not sure I would disagree—they pretty much are. But it is Wodehouse’s word usage, his method of recounting funny situations that makes all the difference. It’s the writing of it that is such genius. That’s why I read his books continuously—they are such a study in unbelievably shrewd word usage and clever writing, in adroit turn of phrase, in wonderful repartee and banter between characters. I am learning constantly from Wodehouse. When I turn away from Wodehouse to my own writing, that’s really when I exclaim, “Rubbish!”

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