The Man With Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse

April 11, 2012

Summary (from the publisher): The Wodehouse series continues-a sparkling story collection from the master of hijinks and social comedy

These early stories, first published together in 1917, show Wodehouse perfecting his craft. Characters include a talking dog, a private eye who wants to be an actor, a bank clerk who cannot dance, an ugly policeman, a baseball-mad businessman, and a black cat. The star attraction of the volume for most reders will probably be ‘Extricating Young Gussie,’ the first story to feature Jeeves, though in a minor role. His employer, Bertie (furnished with an Aunt Agatha but no surname) has not yet, like Wodehouse himself, ‘appreciated the man’s qualities.’ All the stories, however, bear the unmistakable imprint of the author’s comic genius.

Liked:

  • This collection of short stories was my first foray into Wodehouse, and I’d say it was a good one. The stories were short, full of humor, and not anything that required tons of thought. They were entertaining, which is what I was looking for.
  • I started with this book because I wanted to read about Bertie and Jeeves, and figured I might as well get in from the beginning. “Extricating Young Gussie” was a decent story, but rather a lame beginning for Jeeves. He was barely mentioned!
  • “At Geisenheimer’s” was my favorite story of the bunch. I loved the twist ending where the dance hall girl being the woman from the small town who left her husband because she fell in love with New York. It was totally unexpected and made me smile.
  • I also liked the story about the Ugly Policeman, as well as the one about the convicted bank robber who was such a big baseball fan that he came out of exile in Algiers to watch a baseball game in England despite the chance of getting recognized (which he was).

Disliked:

  • Some of these stories weren’t very memorable at all. I just finished the book a few days ago and I’ve already forgotten most of the details.
  • There didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to why these particular stories were grouped together. From what I’ve read, these weren’t collected into a single volume by Wodehouse himself, so I wonder why some random editor decided they belonged together. Maybe because most of them dealt with love or romance? I don’t know.

Rating:

Overall, The Man With Two Left Feet was a decent collection of short stories. There were some truly enjoyable ones among the bunch, and it was a good introduction to Wodehouse. I plan to read more from this author and hope his future works are even better than this. I give the book 3 stars out of 5.

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