Monday, June 26, 2017

Money For (Doing) Nothing

Frozen AssetsFrozen Assets by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Classic Wodehouse. Classic comedy.

Here's the basics. Biff stands to gain an large inheritance if he can only keep himself from getting pinched by the local constabulary. Problem is, Biff likes to drink and when he drinks he gets up to shenanigans, inevitably getting himself pinched. That's where his buddy Jerry, the long-suffering editor of a gossip rag, comes in. He's tasked with keeping Biff's nose clean. Why? Because Jerry wants to marry Biff's sister and she really wants Biff to inherit that money. See what I mean? Classic Wodehouse.

While not hilarious all the way through, Wodehouse spreads a bucketful of laughs liberally throughout Frozen Assets. The opening scene is a prime example of the author's trying-the-main-character's-patience gags. Wodehouse can even squeeze the last ounce of humor out of such an insignificant character as the bad guy's solicitor.

The unintentionally funny thing about this one is that it was written in the 1960s and a contemporary detail or two is dropped, such as Khrushchev's name being spoken in vain, and yet the setting and characters' affectations are clearly late Victorian England. Mannerisms are dated. Butlers and chauffeurs abound. That's not to say these things couldn't have existed in Khrushchev's time, but the times had changed by the 1950s-60s, Wodehouse had not. And that's just as well. He had more Jeeves & Wooster to write before he died and that odd couple needed to remain staunchly of their time.

Good book. Not great. I prefer the J&W, Blandings Castle, or even Ukridge stuff over these stand-alone novels.

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Hello? Hello?...Oh, It's Cthulhu

The Call of CthulhuThe Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What better time to read The Call of Cthulhu than on Halloween?! Probably should've read this one by now, but I've been holding off for a while, waiting for that special occasion.

I do that with some books, usually classics. There's a Steinbeck or two I'm keeping in my proverbial back pocket for when I'm in the right mood or need to get out of a reading funk.

The Call of Cthulhu is pure horror. It's terrifying. If I'd been wearing boots, I'd be quaking in them. Reading this reminded me of reading Poe as a kid. The chills they were palpable. Lovecraft's elevated language is akin to Faulkner. Perhaps this is best described as Poe-stylings layered over Absalom Absalom. The darkness, the despair reaches out of the primeval swamp and sucks you in.

Unlike some classic horror, you actually get physical manifestations of the terror lurking in the shadows. This is no mere ghost story. This is a fucking monster. Yes, it's veiled, it's mysterious, but it's coming for you and it will have you.

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