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Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome, Hugh Laurie ROAD TRIP!!!!! WOO-HOOOOOOOOO! Narrator J gathers a few friends, puts the dog in the back seat, and hits the open road- ready for adventure and whatever comes his way. That's one way of looking at it. Or maybe it's more laid back, less frat-boy... three good ol' boys and their scappy dog pack their boat with plenty of brewskis for two weeks of fishin', drifting around and telling each other lies. Here's the route J and the boys took. (Special thanks to Ian for suggesting a map, special apologies from me to the Internet for being surprised it contained one) Three Men In a Boat (TMIB) is a buddy travel adventure with more bellylaughs than The Road, less sex than On the Road, and less Hobbits than The Hobbit.... but I still loved it! In this case, the road is the Thames river, the brewskis are Toddy (and I'm not even sure what "Toddy" is, other than to observe J and the boys get drunk on it), and J isn't a freeloading Beatnick; he's a 19th century working-class Briton. These are all minor details, however. TMIB follows J, George, Harris and J's dog Montmorency on as they enjoy the summer of 1889, navigating the lochs, canals and tributaries of the Thames River. This loose collection of anecdotes was funny to an unexpected degree, mainly because J's self-effacing and insightful narration recognizes his own follies, as well as those around him. A very cursory list of favorite parts would include:1) J's hypochondria when reading medical textbooks. Every disease he reads about, he ends of thinking he has. Eventually, he presents himself to the family doctor, ready to avail his amazing medical history (i.e. "the man who has everything") to serious medical study. In today's era of pharmaceutical advertising, it's easy to imagine how poor J would fare."Ask you doctor is Placebozil is right for you, if you have one of the following:-occasional irritation or frustration with minor matters-aversion to prolonged loud sounds-feelings of intense hunger after a mere 24 hour fast-occasionally feeling fatigued or "down".... &c.2)The story of J's uncle, who requires a mere six hours and nine assistants to accomplish the hanging of a framed picture in his Aunt's living room. The task involves severe collateral damage to the drywall, but all involved agree this was unavoidable.3) J's observations about how many pubs, inns, and churches claim to have had Queen Victoria pass through on one of her many visits to the countryside, and his speculation about what the landscape would look like if his friend Harris were somehow able to attain the office of Prime Minister!4) The anecdote about the mounted trout proudly displayed at the country inn. Every local who J and friends meet claims to have caught the trout, and tells them a different story about how it all happened. I won't even spoil the end of that story with a spoiler!5) J's alternate views of powercraft drivers, when he is in a sailboat- and his view of sailors when he is aboard a steamship.6) The odd case of Harris and the swans.Haha- good stuff. Naturally, J's deadpan British delivery only makes the material funnier. Here's a taste of what I'm talking about:(#363)(about the speed of his boat):"...we started off at a shamble what would have done credit to the swiftest steam-roller ever built."or(#527)(of an inaccurate barometer indicating "Sunny" weather during a downpour):"...It tried its best, but the instrument was build so that it couldn't prophesy fine weather any harder than it did without breaking itself."or(#762)(of a tunic George bought):"...George put it on, and asked us what we thought of it. Harris said that, as an object to hang over a flower-bed in early spring to frighten the birds away, he should respect it; considered as an article of dress for any human being [however], it made him ill."Reading that in bed, I woke my wife up when I burst out laughing. She is a patient and understanding woman. Lest I leave you with the impression this whole work is just a corny jokebook, let me point out some of the text's finer points. For one thing, there are places where the language is downright poetic. No fratboy roadtrip sitcom is going to yield up passages like this:"We fall asleep beneath the great, still stars, and dream that the world is young again- young and sweet as she used to be ere the centuries of fret and care had furrowed her fair face, ere her children's sins and follies had made old her loving heart -sweet as she was in those bygone days when, a new-made mother, she nursed us, her children, upon her own deep breast -ere the wiles of painted civilization had lured us away from her fond arms, and the poisoned sneers of artificialtiy had made us ashamed of the simple life we led with her, and the simple, stately home where mankind was born so many thousand years ago."Beautiful.Also, the book has times where J. seems to be making an ernest stab at creating an honest-to-goodness travelogue of real places of interest along the Thames. In fact, this book could be used to plan a fun tour of England... hitting such places as -(#1787)"...Tennyson was married in Shiplake Church."-(#2127)".. Henry I lies buried at Reading, in the Benedictine abbey founded by him there, the ruins of which may still be seen; and, in this same abbey, great John of Gaunt was marred to the Lady Blanche.-(#2314)"...Wallingford, six miles abouve Streatley, is a very ancient town, and has been an active centre for the making of English history. It was a rude, mud-built town in the time of the Britons, who squatted there, until the Roman legions evicted them; and replaced their clay-baked ovens by mightly fortifications, the trace fo which Time has not yet succeeded in sweeping away, so well those old-world masons knew how to build."and -(#2337)"Abbingdon is a typical country town of the smaller order- quiet, eminantly clean, and desperately dull."By the end of this, who knows? I may have even gotten a taste of what life was like for the working-class 120 years ago in the UK. How did I go so long without hearing about this book? It is only through Karen's Readers' Advisory that I even discovered it now. Three cheers for Karen! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED