P.G. Wodehouse: Barmy in Wonderland



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N the world of American theater rather than English castles PG had co written any number of plays with notable lights of the theatrical scribe community He was often the story guy to the song guys and did uite well Over time theater changed while Wodehouse stayed largely the same His play writing career ran or roughly 25 years and mostly ending by the mid 1930s Thankfully Serial Killer Quarterly Vol.2 No.7 Psychotic Killers for hisans this left time to pen the hundredish books that he left as his primary legacy In the early 1950s Wodehouse started mulling his theatrical successes In the summer of 1952 Wodehouse and Guy Bolton co wrote Carry On Jeeves which was PG s last attempt at writing High Angle Rescue Techniques for the stage In 1953 he wrote Bring on the Girls a biography about his theater years It was probably Barmy in Wonderland aka Angel Cake which was largelyinished by the summer of 1951 that inspired these later effortsThis novel is pleasant read that Finn Family Moomintroll feels significantly dated than most of the Wodehouse booksrom his prime JW and Blandings novels seem to The Glass Palace float on aairly timeless ether but Barmy is a historical look at a very distinct time and place in New York theater that has long vanished The early part of the book Something Like Fate flows nicely in the Wodehouse stream of pleasant prose but when the actual theater world ensnares Barmy the book becomes less of a joy To beair there are some wonderful bits of wordplay and description including a well drawn lawyer which make even the dull theater bits and the telegraphed ending worth readin. Nrich the Broadway theatrical sceneBut while Barmy was rising his hat to Gypsy Sybill ate was aiming a nasty jolt at the solar plexu.

As the greatest comic writer of all time Barmy is my irst taste of Wodehouse and shows an author in control of all aspects of the game Archetype (Archetype, from the unusual similes that clearly inspired Adams to his impeccable comic timing to well if broadly drawn characters and a plot just coherent enough to keep the wholearce together It took me about 10 pages to get hooked and afterwards the next 216 seemed to ly by A pleasant smart unny novel that makes me want to look into the rest of Wodehouse s oeuvre A book A Gun for Sale from Wodehouse s great period ie about 1920 1960 This one actually came out in 1952 It stars aairly minor character People of the Book from the Jeeves Drones club stories Cyril Barmy Fotheringay Phipps in his only lead role in aull length novel The wonderland of he title is actually the Theatre land of Broadway Barmy buys into a hopeless show and makes it a hit The best character in the book is actually not Barmy but movie star lead actor and dipsomaniac Mervyn Potter The story is distinctly hackneyed you ll have have heard it all before many times especially if you ve seen any Hollywood musicals of the 1930s but Wodehouse of course makes the thing wholly enjoyable just not uite up to his very best standards P G at his delirious best In particular I liked the interaction between the drunken movie star and the slightly dense English gent It s a love story it involves a theatrical production and it is confected by the Master Need I say This is a uirky Wodehouse that takes place As though the old crystal ball had had an eyeful Had he not met 'Dinty' the Encore, Grace! fair girl to end allair girls and was he not about to

In order to win the woman of his dreams Cyril Barmy Fotheringay Phipps invests ten thousand dollars into a stinker of a play to be close to her Will he ever see any of his money back and win his woman s heartThat PG Wodehouse is a sly one Just as he managed to make golf interesting in The Clicking of Cuthbert he managed to make me care about theater with Barmy in WonderlandBarmy in Wonderland eatures a ew of the usual Wodehouse plot devices You get the budding love between Barmy and Eileen Dinty Moore the broken engagement between Mervyn Potter and his love and hilarious drunken escapades Fear the Darkness (Brigid Quinn, featuring Potter and PhippsIt s amazing how many interesting characters Wodehouse creates and then never uses again To the best of my knowledge Barmy a member of theabled Drones Club is the only one who appears in other stories It s a shame too Dinty Moore is strong Tarot Says Beware (Herculeah Jones Mysteries, female lead like many of Wodehouse s women Mervyn Potter that hilarious drunken bastard could have easily spawned stories on his own I even enjoyed the two sleazy play producers Lehman and McClureOh and I should mention myavorite line before I wrap this up She was so tight she could carry an armload of eels up ive lights of stairs and not drop a single oneAs usual everything works out in the end as it normally does in Wodehouseland The joy is in the journey not the destination While this one isn t my avorite Wodehouse or even close it s still hilarious and an easy three Douglas Adams dubbed PG Wodehouse. Although Cyrill Fotheringay Phipps ondly known as Barmy only consulted a Deutschlandreise fortune teller to take the weight off hiseet it did seem.

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Hilaire Belloc