The Good, the Bad, and the Hungry Sale

Reviews From


Wednesday, June 12th, 2002


Laughing Gas

by P G Wodehouse

A review by Adrienne Miller

Right then. We're just so frightfully pleased by Overlook Press's sensational new Wodehouse program, reissuing eight of the old so-and-so's books and all that. This event is indeed cause to rub one's fingers together in oily glee. Oh, you certainly know who this P.J. Wodehouse fellow is. He published over ninety novels, so 'tis true that this program is an ambitious one, as was the writer of such ha-has as, "We Havershots are men of action, even when we have been turned into kids with golden curls smelling, I now perceived, of a rather offensive brand of brilliantine" (from Laughing Gas, in which an English Earl switches souls with a child movie star).

This brilliant English novelist was perhaps the greatest farce writer of the twentieth century, and the creator, most famously, of the sensational Wooster and Jeeves duo. One of the results of having read an entire weekend's worth of Wodehouse is that one starts to sound rather like him, if in tragically cheapened or, more to the point, bastardized form. Another result of having read, reread in some cases (if you please), Laughing Gas, Heavy Weather, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, I could go on, is this: Life becomes somehow more madcap, wittier, sparklier, more like something dear Oscar Wilde would approve of, and people and situations who and which had previously seemed unamusing suddenly, joyously, are. Wodehouse's world is so utterly contagious because he wrote with a certain nonchalance, a merry ebullience. These volumes are handsome, companionable, aesthetically pleasing, reasonably priced ($16.95, not that any aesthete should worry over anything so vulgar as money), and, in a word, delicious.

Adrienne Miller is Esquire's literary editor.

Click here to subscribeSubscribe to Esquire and Save 75%

Get 12 fantastic issues of Esquire magazine for only $8. The best culture, entertainment, style, financial advice, women and more delivered right to your door every month ? at an incredible 81% savings off the newsstand price! What could be better... or easier?

Click here to subscribe now!

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at