Friday, August 13, 2010

Mike at Wrykyn, by P.G. Wodehouse

Wodehouse got his start writing school-boy novels and stories. His book Mike tells the story of Michael Jackson, who begins school at Wrykyn, then has his father move him to Sedleigh, where he meets Rupert Psmith. Psmith proved more popular, so Jackson takes a back seat to him in follow-up novels. In fact, to accommodate Psmith fans, Mike is usually split in half these days, with the second half published as Mike and Psmith. The first half is often forgotten. When it is published, it usually appears as Mike at Wrykyn.

I read the first half of the Google Reader edition of Mike, and I'm claiming I read Mike at Wrykyn. As far as I can tell, they are identical.

Lots of Wodehouse fans go in for the Blandings or Jeeves stuff and act like the early stuff isn't worth their time. Others read it as a sort of signal of their fandom. I just read it because it's entertaining.

As with Mike and Psmith, a lot of this book would have been boring and unintelligible had I not previously read Cricket Explained by Robert Eastaway. With that book's knowledge under my belt, I enjoyed the entire thing. Mike is a transition book, with Wodehouse changing--mid-book, as it were--from a schoolboy novelist to a comic novelist. Not that there's no comedy before this, and not that there're no schoolboys following this, but the transition happens when Mike transfers schools.

Rating: five and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

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