My First Exposure to P.G. Wodehouse

Two saturdays ago, in selecting my third short story of the year, I drew the five of clubs and was led to P.G. Wodehouse’s story, “Pig Hoo-o-o-ey!” (at the beginning of the year I assigned 52 short stories to the cards in a standard deck and throughout the year will draw one per week to randomize the order in which I read them. This is something I had so much fun with last year that I’m doing it again in 2012).

I have a good friend and fellow reader who has been recommending the humorous Wodehouse to me for years. She is a big fan of the “Jeeves” novels and stories, and says she occasionally retreats to Wodehouse after more heavy reading. Due to her influence, a recent trip to Half Price Books included in its haul the collection, “The Most of Wodehouse.” Upon reading him for the first time, I can see why she enjoys him so much. He is one of the funniest writers I’ve read the past few years.

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***Some Spoilers follow*** The story “Pig-hoo-o-o-ey!” is only eighteen pages long and features the memorably comic character of Lord Elmsworth. There are actually two story lines woven together in this tale. It seems the Earl of Elmsworth’s “pig man” has run afoul of the law and has been tossed in jail for a couple weeks (negatively impacting the appetite and well-being of Elmsworth’s prize Berkshire sow, preposterously named “The Empress of Blandings” – and just before “the eighty-seventh annual Shropshire Agricultural Show). At the same time, Elmsworth’s niece Angela has broken off her engagement to her family-approved fiancé in favor of a suitor from her youth, who has recently returned from America.

The vein of humor running richly through the story relies upon Elmsworth’s nearly total preoccupation with the crisis of his potentially prize-winning pig’s condition. Whenever anyone brings up the other topic, he at first assumes they are talking about HIS problem instead. A happy ending is tidily reached, however, when it is discovered that Angela’s American paramour spent some of his time abroad working on a farm in Nebraska and becoming educated in the manner of raising and handling pigs.

Overall, a great little story that I liked a lot. I don’t have any other Wodehouse in my line-up of stories for my 2012 short story project, but I do have this whole volume of his work at my disposal… I suspect I will return to it more than once in the coming year.

What about you? Have you read any Wodehouse? What do you think of this author?

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(P.G. Wodehouse)

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