Thursday, December 25, 2014

Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K Jerome)

Reading this book was kind of like watching a Seinfeld episode....every day mundane things that everyone can relate to and told in a way that just makes you chuckle....only not quite as much as Seinfeld.

It was one of those books I would have never read were it not for book club. It wasn't an easy read for me though. I am not a natural reader of old books or classics. It is good to read classics. Right? 

One weird thing about this book (was it something common in the time?): I think they used to think end punctuation was for paragraphs. So many one sentence paragraphs! Oy!!

It's kind of funny, but not really funny enough to be considered a comedy. Or it could be that it is British humor....which I tend to think is an oxymoron. This book reminds me of one of those family parties where you see around and listen to stories that your kooky relatives tell and you feel obliged to sit and listen politely. When it all begins you think, " Oh brother, do we really have to listen to this? And then, eventually, you all have smiles on your faces and you're chuckling away at their gift of storytelling.

It rambles. The stories have no point and are put together in odd ways. Not sure how he decided what constitutes a chapter. Usually a chapter has an event or moves a story along. These were just rambling words. Although, maybe that is how the boat experience was. I don't know.

All in all, I am really glad I read it. Now, on to something I will really enjoy!!

Updated: January 29
We met for book club last night. I was so inspired by the discussion I had to add to this post. I didn't even notice the themes in the story: hypocrisy, class distinction, morality and happiness. They're subtle, yet brilliant! So glad for book club friends who help me see a little further!


Chapter 6

It was a glorious morning, late spring early summer, as you care to take it, when the dainty sheen of grass and leaf is blushing to a deeper green; and the year seems like a fair young maid, trembling with  strange, weakening pulses on the brink of womanhood.

Chapter 9: 

I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average towline, and stretched it out straight across the middle of the field, and then you and then turned your back on it for 30 seconds, that, when you look around again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in the heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tight itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take a good half hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.

Chapter 10

It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot sync, unless her stomach will so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says, "Work!" After beefsteak and porter, it says, "Sleep!" After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup and don't let it stand more than three minutes), it says to the brain, "now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with the clear I, into nature and into life; spread your white wings of quivering thought, and sore, a godlike spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!"
After hot muffins, it says, "Be dull and soulless, like a beast of the field - a brainless animal with listless eye, unlit by any ray of fancy, or of hope, or fear, or love, or life." And after brandy, taken in sufficient quantity, it says, "Now, come, fool, grin and tumble, that your fellow-men may laugh - drivel in folly, and splutter in senseless sounds, and show what a helpless ninny is the poor man whose wit and will are drowned, like kittens, side by side, in half an inch of alcohol.
We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach.

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