Monday, October 1, 2012

Fun with books


I love books of almost all sorts but humor has a special place in my heart. My mind, however, is Teflon-coated and almost anything that I read just skids off it without making any lasting impression. I have always envied the felicity that some people have of remembering and quoting the books that they read but, try as I might, I could never be one of them.
Some quotes, however, have found precarious handholds in the Teflon. Oscar Wilde’s classic “The importance of being Ernest” offered one of them. The girl’s mother is interviewing the girl’s beau.
Boyfriend : Unfortunately, I have lost both my parents
Girl’s Mother: To lose one may be termed a misfortune. To lose both seems to me like sheer carelessness!
Or, take this description of P.G. Wodehouse about one of Emsworth’s sisters.
Her first husband was a big game hunter. He died in a misunderstanding with a tiger. He thought the tiger was dead. The tiger didn’t. Her second husband met a lorry coming at him. Instead of going around it, he tried to go through it.
The irrepressible Richard Armour has been a great rib-tickler for me. His description of the teetotal Queen Victoria goes thus
Although she reigned, she never poured.
It is not necessary for you to seek in the humor authors for a laugh. Sometimes, you find unexpected gems in other genres. Take this one from a western when a stranger comes into town with a dead body on another horse.
Stranger: He was bushwhacked five miles out yonder. Toted the body in.
Bully : You pointing that at me?
Stranger: Throw a stone into a pack of dogs. The one that yelps is the one that got hit.
Sometimes it is your own fancies that give you a fun time. Upon reading the zillionth Perry Mason mystery, I had this idea of a whimsical interview of the police lieutenant Tragg.
Reporter: So, Lieutenant, could you let your viewers in on the investigative methods that made you successful?
Tragg: You see, the moment we encounter a homicide we look around to see if there is a remote possibility of arresting one of Perry Mason’s clients for it. After that, all we have to do is lie back and relax. Perry will solve the case for us.
Reporter: And if you do not?
Tragg: That is why we have that ‘Unsolved Homicides’ file!
Books can either be fun or you can have fun with them! They are man’s best friends – which friend will allow you to talk any way to him and will not talk back?

38 comments:

  1. Although books leave an imprint on my mind, try as I might I can never really remember the lines and glad to see that am not the only one :)

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  2. I totally agree to the point you made regarding books being man's best friends. I also believe that a good book can actually keep you awake at night.
    "Although she reigned, she never poured." What an apt use of similar sounding words.
    Loved the post, keep posting :)

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

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    1. Thanks Jay! Nice to see you caught that pun! :)

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  3. Books can be two faced too.People can stray away into the realms of imagination too,as books tend to create a virtual sense of reality. Indeed books are fun. Well posted.

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  4. Nice quotes. I have also been enjoying quotes from the Gordon Dickson books you gave me and been sharing them on Facebook the past couple of days - They are not humorous though.

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    1. Thanks! Did see a few of your msg.s on FB

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  5. I remember one from The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

    The library's closed lady.
    But the woman didn't seem to care. She seized one of the heavy ring-shaped handles, heaved it backward, and let it fall with a loud crash against the door. Then she did it again. And again. And again. Wow, the homeless man thought, she must really need a book.

    It was such a high tension scene but these lines made me almost fall out of my chair!!! I still remember it :)

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  6. A great post Suresh! Reminded me of subtle humor of PG Wodehouse...thanks:)

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    1. Wodehouse is an absolute master of humor, isn't he?

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  7. I dont read Wodehouse in front of anybody for fear that people might misconstrue me to be an absolute lunatic, laughing away to myself. I have had some weird stares directed at me once when I decided to let Wodehouse accompany me ;)

    Ahhh.. the smell of the yellowed pages of books - Can any e-book ever replace that ??

    -Ash

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    1. Armour is even worse :) I was on a flight to Calcutta and the co-passengers almost had the air-hostess eject me mid-flight :)

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  8. Then, how did you remember so many quotes? :) I can't either. I can list the name of books that I read though, but not the quotes..:) Good one, Suresh.

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    1. This is all I remembered out of the more than 5000 books that I have read :) Does it seem like so many? :)

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    2. hahaha...then, No:)OMG, you read 5000 books? you are gifted reader then..:)

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  9. Suresh i am one up on you(benefits of ageing),i remember the names of the classics i have read but a very sketchy story line.This bothers me a lot.

    About humor some of the eateries here in Kota are named thus:
    Perfect Mess
    Royal Mess
    Snakes
    Could you eat at any one of them?

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    1. Nope and certainly not if they served snakes :)

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  10. Suresh, that was a supreme post on humourous exchanges! I cracked my sides at the 'tiger' thing. Incidentally, have you read Catch 22?

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    1. Joseph Heller! Of course, I have. Difficult to forget Yossarian!

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  11. Same is the case with me. I tend to leave the quotes almost as soon I leave the book and sometimes I do envy people who can quote them at the right times especially in a conversation.

    Loved reading this post, CS. The lorry guy and the bully guy had me in splits! :)

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  12. Thanks for the good laugh !

    The Importance of being Ernest is one of my favourites; I have lost track of the number of times I have read this. It was the also first e-book I loaded on my new Kindle. :-)Oscar Wilde may be known for one of the grimmest works ever written, "The Picture of Dorian Gray", but has also written two of the best pieces of humour—"The Importance of being ernest" and "The Canterville Ghost".

    I like G.B. Shaw's biting humour, and particularly those that poke fun at the British. Have you read "Arms and the Man"? It's brilliant and the humour biting, understated and deadpan at the same time.

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    1. I have read all the works of Oscar Wilde - even that grimmest book had some gems like - "She is recently widowed!" "I can see that! Her hair has turned quite gold with grief!' I have also read all the plays of Bernard Shaw though I cannot offhand recollect any quotes from him.

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  13. Actually bringing out humor in writing without any visuals is a tough task and people like Wodehouse were too good at it...Lovely post Suresh...And you have read 5000 books? ???? (How can I depict popping-out-eyes in a comment? :) )

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    1. Actually a lot more than 5000 books, Jaish! I have a collection of more than 3000 books and I started collecting them only after 30 - so borrowed books and books from the library must account for far more than 2000 prior to that :)

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    2. Splendid...U should start a 'C Suresh Lending Library...For those who love books' But in India, its tough owning one...People sincerely believe that libraries donate and not lend books ha ha

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  14. Where do you live? I would love to come and browse/borrow/beg/steal some of the 3000 books :) Me too is a member of the teflon club :D I have no recollection of even some of the story lines of books I have read -- yes, even classics! *hangs head in shame*

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    1. Bengaluru Zephyr! Used to live in Delhi and about 2000 of the 3000 were bought at Daryaganj! Still make an annual visit on my way to my Himalayan trek and return with at least 50-60 books :)
      You are welcome to borrow - you will not need to take recourse to begging or stealing as The Fool will testify!
      Hang your head in shame elsewhere, Zephyr! I do not want to feel shame myself for the same reason :) :)

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    2. Now that you declared you have 3000 books, there's going to be a bee-line in front your house..OH! How I missed it Suresh, I have been to Bangalore this Summer. :)I wonder if I will reach that mark before I retire.

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    3. No worries! I reached the mark after retirement :) Only, I retired rather early :)

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  15. Loved this post! I can barely remember the story line of the books, especially if it s not a famous one, let alone the quotes!

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    1. Thanks Deepa! Looks like I have lots of company :)

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  16. Suresh, you picked all my favorites. :) I enjoyed this post thoroughly. How about Richard Gordon? I'm sure you've read the guy's Doctor series? The squaw on the hippopotamus is the sum of the squaws on the other two hides? :)

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