Saturday, December 6, 2008

Three Men in a Boat


I have heard about this book from various sources and idly contemplated reading it, but my wonderful brother-in-law lent me a copy and now I have to get one of my own. The best comparison I can think of is Charles Dickens as a stand-up comedian. This is a very Victorian book, wordy and round-about. Yet it is one of the funniest books I have read. The quote on the back cover seems to sum it up:

It would be dangerous to read this book in any place - say a full railway compartment - where the reader was not at perfect liberty to laugh as loudly and as long as he chose.
This was from a review at the time it was originally published. I laughed out loud at several places, and followed David around as he did "honey-do's" and read to him as well.

It is difficult to find a place I want to quote that does not go on for several pages, so to save my typing I have opened the book at random and found a great couple of lines about tow-lines. The book is about a river/camping expedition and for part of the time the men are towing their boat up the Thames by walking up a path holding a rope that is attached to the boat. Imagining someone trying to do that on the Colorado is a funny image.

I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied 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.
That is my opinion of tow-lines in general, of course, there may be honorable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession - conscientious, respectable tow-lines - tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them.
I could go on, but then I would simply be copying the whole book onto the blog and what would the point of that be? So go out to your local library and read this book. Wait until January. It will be a nice summer interlude in winter, and will cheer those winter doldrums.


Three Men in a Boat. Jerome K. Jerome. Alan Sutton. 1889

3 comments:

jendoop said...

I can't believe you missed the obvious analogy between tow-lines and Christmas lights. Have you not put up your tree yet?
sounds like a great book for the dark days of Jan - Mar.

readerMom said...

In the interest of my sanity, David does the lights (I do presents, goodies, stockings, and making my husband do the lights) so I missed that, but yes, it is approcpriate, good call.

Penspace said...

Excellent book with a timeless sense of humor. Life can certainly be light-hearted.