The Man with Two Left Feet and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm on jury duty. A particularly nasty case. I needed something light, humorous and non-taxing to take my mind off of it this weekend. Enter P.G. Wodehouse!
Wodehouse is my old fallback when I need a pick-me-up. His comical characters, daffy slapstick and witty turns of phrase threaten to induce knee slaps and a general feeling of being tickled in the best possible way.
The Man With Two Left Feet and Other Stories is a very precise title. There's the titular (tee-hee..."tit") short story, which wraps up this collection, along with quite a few other shorts. Perhaps my favorite, and definitely the most inventive stories herein, are the ones from the point of view of a dog. Those were not only humorous, but well-crafted as well.
Other stories revolve around relationship misunderstandings (a Wodehouse template), the inability to dance and forlorn love. I was surprised and a bit let down by the number of non-humorous, purely dramatic (often melodramatic) pieces here. I know that sort of will-(s)he-won't-(s)he love story was en vogue around the time this was published, but I didn't realize until this book that Wodehouse wrote such straightforward romances. They weren't bad, but meh and unexpected. But hey, at least there weren't any golf stories in this collection. I'm not a big fan of Wodehouse's foray on to the links in prose form.
My favorite of his books are the ones that include the Wooster and Jeeves characters, which appear in here once. The Man With Two Left Feet and Other Stories as a whole is an early work and the Wooster/Jeeves story happens to be the very first appearance of that dynamic duo. They and some of the other characters in the story, who also appear in later Wooster/Jeeves stories, are not quite fully incubated yet. I don't entirely recognize them. I actually found that interesting, to see where and who these beloved characters had once been.
Though it was not the best Wodehouse I've ever read, and I doubt I'll ever reread this, I'm not disappointed overall. It was good enough to clear the docket and get my trial temporarily dismissed.
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