Funny Books to Read: My temperature is slowly returning to normal. Thanks for all the well wishes. I had intended earlier in the week to write about finishing Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!) by Jerome K. Jerome.
But instead, I suffered through hours of having songs about fever stuck in my head. “Hotblooded” and “Fever” play over and over and over again. It’s no wonder I didn’t feel well.
So when the soundtrack suddenly added Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, it was a blessing. Then there were my attempts at creative visualization to think of myself well. It began innocently enough with the germs as shimmery blue and yellow fish getting caught in huge nets.
But the environmentalists started protesting as the pretty fish began disappearing. When my germs were declared endangered species, I realized I was not going to win the battle, so I had to change tactics to something a bit more aggressive.
Before I knew it, I found myself imagining over and over again the battle at Helm’s Deep from the Two Towers movie.
Just as it looked like the germs of Saruman were going to win, Gandalf appeared with the Rohirrim to save the day and the good Ents were kind enough to finish off the rest. Has it helped me feel better?
I can’t say for sure that it has, but it saved me another chorus of “Fever” and passed the time when even watching TV was too much effort.
But I digress, which actually illustrates what Three Men in a Boat is all about. Digressions, not battling germs. The book was first published in 1889. It was an immediate success and has never been out of print.
Jerome began it as a travel book for those who wanted to boat up the Thames. Vestiges of its origins still remain in fragments and mentions of this pretty village or that pleasant inn. Jerome based his traveling companions, George and Harris, on a couple of friends.
Once they actually get in the boat, we don’t spend much time on their actual trip up the Thames at all. As they row past Hampton Court, we are treated to a hilarious story about the maze there.
We are also treated to stories of other boat outings and the disasters and hijinks that ensued. We are treated to a story about George, who works at a bank and whose watch stopped at a few minutes past nine, which made him think he was late for work. When he arrived at the bank, he discovered it was 3 a.m., at which point he was chased home by a suspicious nightwatchman.
And of course, no story that takes place on the water would be complete without a great fish tale. I won’t give anything away about the trout, but as with all fish stories, it is not what it seems to be.
I think my favorite story comes early in the book, before the trip even starts. It’s about Uncle Podger hanging a picture. Simple enough, right? Not when it takes all day and the help of the entire family with results that are less than outstanding.
I had never heard of this book until last year, when my husband brought it home and read it. There are few things more annoying than sitting next to someone who keeps laughing out loud while reading a book. So, of course, I had to read it too. And I am glad I did.
Connie Willis has a book called To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I will soon commence reading. And even then, I won’t be done with Mr. Jerome because my husband is now reading another of his books, Three Men on the Bummel. And darn him if he doesn’t keep laughing out loud!