A REVIEW OF `MEET MR MULLINER' BY P.G. WODEHOUSE
When faced with a book in which principal characters overcome obstacles such as severe allergies, speech impediments, personality-altering drugs and supernatural influences, the reader would expect to be holding in his hands a tome of the most gritty and challenging variety. Add to this thought-provoking list a photographer obsessed with the perfect body image of his subjects, and one might declare, "How very 21st century. Here we have a poignant insight into the human condition in all its glory and frailty. Why, what could be more apposite, more cutting-edge, more revelatory?" However, to do so, one would find oneself barking up the wrong t-, for these are among the themes being tackled by that glorious purveyor of mirth, Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. Stinging, close-to-the-bone social commentary be dashed... This is a feather to tickle the old funny b-.
For those not in the know, Mr Mulliner is one of PGW's more prolific characters. Old M is the in-house human audiobook at the drinking establishment known as `The Angler's rest'. As punters sup their pints of ale, Mulliner can be found wandering the tables expounding anecdote after anecdote about family members caught up in one scrape or another. As such, `Meet Mr Mulliner'(1927) is a collection of nine short stories, lightly lampooning the human heart. Indeed, each tale is an absurd love story in which boy-meets-girl, faces all manner of hurdles during the wooing, and then emerges triumphant. Only the final tale, `Honeysuckle Cottage' breaks the mould with its influences from `the other side' (wherever that may be).
For those who love their Wodehouse, there is plenty to enjoy here. However, `Meet Mr Mulliner' has the effect of a soothing cup of cocoa rather than the truly miraculous powers of `Buck-U-Uppo' (a concoction quaffed during a number of the stories within its covers). For truly laugh-out-loud Wodehouse, I would recommend the slightly-later `Eggs. Beans & Crumpets' (1940) or `Young Men In Spats' (1936) in which the degree of lunacy is just a notch or two higher.
However, for those who like the look of their frontispiece with a smile upon it, a visit to The Angler's Rest comes highly recommend. Order your drink, pull up a stool and let the resident raconteur begin one of his marvellous merry monologues.
Barty's Score: 8/10