on September 7, 2012
Honestly, reading some of the reviews of this book fill me with despair. This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the funniest and most enjoyable books I've read in years. If you don't find this book an absolute wheeze from start to finish, you just don't get Wodehouse. Allow me to address some of the negativity I've read in reviews of this book both here and elsewhere:
1) "It's not as good as his other stuff" - absolute rot. These short stories rank up there with anything he's ever written. Wodehouse had definitely honed his comedic rhythm by the time he wrote the golf stories. It takes a lot for a book to make me laugh out loud in public, but this book did it on numerous occasions when reading it on the subway.
2) "If you're not into golf you won't get it" - again, so much balderdash. I have not the foggiest about golf and have no interest in the game whatsoever. I understand maybe 10% of golfing terminology. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that Wodehouse could make any subject funny. The joy of Wodehouse is the ridiculous, farcical worlds that he created. In this book, that world happens to revolve around golf. It's a world in which golf is the most important thing in the universe. That alone is a sound comedic foundation, and Wodehouse builds upon it masterfully.
3) "It's formulaic" - so what? Of course it's formulaic. All of Wodehouse's best work was formulaic. That's what made it so funny, that's what defined his style. You recognize a comedic structure that he's used before, and fact that you recognize it makes you laugh. Wodehouse just has to mention the word "Pekingese" and I'm done. Or describe someone as "pop eyed." And it can't have escaped anyone's attention that most of Wodehouse's stories are based around the same few themes. Doe-eyed young men in love with women they don't have the nerve to approach. Rambunctious young bachelors who have landed themselves in the soup by inadvertently getting engaged to terrifying women. This is the hilarious world that Wodehouse created. Who cares if it's formulaic? Just lighten up and enjoy it.
4) "The terminology and slang is out of date" - Well then don't read anything that was written before you were born. That ought to fix it. Honestly - part of the joy of reading Wodehouse IS the obscure slang. It doesn't even matter if you don't fully understand it, these words are hilarious. To be honest I don't fully understand what it means to feel "thoroughly pipped" and I don't quite comprehend what is meant by a "rummy sort of girl." But in the context, you get the gist, and these words are delightful and charming. A complaint I read about this book is that it uses outdated words for golf clubs. Who cares? It's immediately apparent that a "mashie" and a "niblick" are types of club. Do I know exactly which? No. But I laugh at those words every time Wodehouse uses them.
I'm not going to describe each story in this book, because others have done so already. All I'll say is that if you find Wodehouse's style funny, then there is no way on earth you're not going to enjoy this book. I can't think of anything written in the past 20 years that's funnier, put it that way.
on October 8, 2015
This is Wodehouse at his best. His golf stories are not as widely known because more people are familiar with Jeeves and Wooster. Rightly so, as more people read than golf. Seldom does a writer delve into the nature of golf and golfers as Wodehouse, a bogey golfer himself, does in these delightful stories. His caricatures of golfers are so accurate that the current golfer who reads these stories has to recognize himself eventually in one of the characters who struggles with the game and, usually, his romantic life. It is sometimes easier to be profound about life with comedy than with serious writing, and Wodehouse illustrates that here with his insights into golfers. Highly recommended for the golfers and Wodehouse fans and would be Wodehouse fans.
on December 9, 2003
Probably most famous for his Jeeves and Wooster books, P.G. Wodehouse was an avid golfer. 'The Clicking of Cuthbert' was the first of two books Wodehouse wrote about golf (the other being 'The Heart of a Goof'). It was originally published in the US as "Golf Without Tears" in 1924 - 2 years after the first UK publishing. It's also one of the first books by Wodehouse that I read, back in the days when I did play the game myself. However while I have, just like the Oldest Member, long since retired it's still a book I can pick up and enjoy.
Rather than a straightforward novel, the book is a collection of ten short stories. With the exception of the tenth, each story is 'told' by the club's Oldest Member. There is a common theme throughout the stories the Oldest Member tells - how golf is vital to success in every aspect of life. The last story, however, is my favourite one in the book. It's a historical tale, telling of the coming of a strange new religion called Gowf to the country of Oom.
I think that this book would appeal more to the golfing community than to the uninitiated. There are certain terms and phrases specific to the game, which mightn't make much sense to a non-golfer and could possibly break the flow of the story a little. Furthermore, some of the terminology associated with the game has changed since the book was written. Clubs are referred to in the book as baffies, niblicks and mashies while, at the time Wodehouse wrote the book, the word bogey meant par. On the other hand, it's still a book written by P.G. Wodehouse - he does have a very distinctive style of writing and certainly appears to have a hugely loyal fanbase. If you've read other books by him and enjoyed them, odds are you'll enjoy this - regardless of your expertise on the golf course. If you haven't read any Wodehouse before, I'd probably suggest starting with a Blandings or a Jeeves novel.
on March 8, 2015
I realize that complaining that a work by Wodehouse is unserious suggests that I am unclear on the concept, but bear with me. While I concede that accepting, for instance, Bertie Wooster's lack of perspicacity and (at least where his aunts are concerned) backbone may take a certain suspension of disbelief. But once you have granted the premises, the story works best if you take Wooster's actions and reactions seriously.
This collection is quite different; Sir Pelham relies heavily on the unreliability of his narrator. (“The Salvation of George Mackintosh” would be horrible if the narration were reliable and the dialog not recounted in retrospect. And I don't think Sir Pelham intended the remark about Tolstoy in the title story to be taken at face value; nor, callous though he could be about politics, Russian revolutionary internecine bloodshed.) In my opinion, this rarely works well for Wodehouse; it works especially badly in his mock history, as represented here by the last story in the volume.
I don't recommend reading the stories in the order printed here; that ends on a poor note, and begins with the best of them, the title story, which was published last. I'd suggest instead reading them in the order published; see, for example, the Wikipedia article “P. G. Wodehouse short stories bibliography.” For an overview of the collection, I recommend Mr Smith's review here; he seems a more serious golfer than I was in my misspent youth.
A note on the digital editions: All but Digireads, which is overpriced, have spurious line breaks, including Project Gutenberg.
on July 4, 2003
The "Oldest Member" of a country club narrates ten comic tales to dispirited and frustrated younger golfers in order to boost their spirits, enhance their morals, and keep them from snapping their clubs in half. In typical Wodehouse style, most of the stories involve chasing skirts as well as replacing divots (although definitely not in that order of priority).
There are two principal scenarios: a player's love of golf either impresses or repels the girl of his dreams, or two players fall in love with the same woman and their performance on the course settles the dispute. Since these formulae have, of course, a very limited number of possible outcomes, it's best to savor the chapters singly, more to enjoy the humor and less to anticipate the endings, which are usually foreseeable. (My favorite story strays from the basic blueprint--sort of. A golfer with a mean temper relies on some randomly selected sayings of Marcus Aurelius in order to maintain his cool, impress his boss, earn a promotion--and keep his fiancee.)
How much one appreciates this volume will, not surprisingly, depend on whether one plays golf. Golf lovers are sure to enjoy these sketches, which are greatly enhanced by Wodehouse's trademark drollery and smart-aleck asides. Recuperating 18-hole addicts (I myself have been club-free for 23 years, 6 months, 10 days) will find themselves heading for a tavern to avoid relapse. Golf widows (and widowers) are likely to burn the volume before they get to page 20. And non-golfers--even readers who enjoy Wodehouse's other works--are certain to be baffled by passages such as this one: "The twelfth is a long, dog-leg hole, bogey five. Alexander plugged steadily round the bend, holing out in six, and Mitchell, whose second shot had landed him in some long grass, was obliged to use his niblick. He contrived, however, to halve the hole with a nicely-judged mashie-shot to the edge of the green."
If haven't read Wodehouse before, this volume isn't where you should start--especially if you don't play golf (I recommend "Joy in the Morning"). If, however, you have had to endure the passions of a golfer, this is probably one of the best gifts you can get him or her.
on December 16, 2014
I am not a golfer but like all of Wodehouse, it is humorous, clever, and an enjoyable read. For those who do golf, it would probably be even more interesting to read, but I would recommend either way.
on July 30, 2015
A series of stories about golf as played in England in the Twenties, as told by the Oldest Member. Delightful short stories in the Wodehouse style. No important societal issues are discussed, but everyone lives in that cotton wool surrounded world of Wodehouse.
on June 16, 2014
P. G. Warehouse has penned an absolutely charming book made up of stories about golf and golfers. The characters are the usual assortment of his delightful personalities who are in the throes of some dilemma. More often than not a fair maiden is involved and in the end a happy conclusion is reached.
on March 3, 2007
"The Clicking of Cuthbert" by P. G. Wodehouse was first published in the U.K. by Herbert Jenkins on February 3rd, 1922. It was published in the U.S. by George H. Doran under the title "Golf without Tears" on May 28, 1924. This is a collection of ten short stories, all of which deal with men and the battle between their two loves, women and golf.
The first nine stories all have a common narrator and premise, which is the Oldest Member of the golf club relating tales of golf and love. The last story has the same themes, but it is given as an historical story about golf that the authors are trying to sell to a publisher.
The stories are as follows:
"The Clicking of Cuthbert", the title story, is the story of Cuthbert Banks who has had some success at golf, but who can't seem to grab the attention of Adeline, the woman he loves.
"A Woman is only a Woman" is the story of Peter Willard and James Todd who have been lifelong golfing buddies; that is until they both fall for Grace Forrester.
"A Mixed Threesome" is the story of Mortimer Sturgis, a man who takes up golf late in life for his fiancée (Betty Weston) only to then pay more attention to his game than he does to her.
"Sundered Hearts" continues the story of Mortimer Sturgis where his new love of golf has come to dominate his life, and then he meets the woman of his dreams, a professional golf player. However, things are not what they seem, and Mortimer has to decide if love will conquer all, and is it the love of golf or of women?
"The Salvation of George Mackintosh" is the story of George Mackintosh who after falling in love has learned to become a great conversationalist to win the heart of Celia Tennant. Unfortunately, that process has also turned him into the bane of golfers everywhere, including Celia.
"Ordeal by Golf" is a story in which the Oldest Member plays a significant role, in that he tells his friend Alex Paterson, the president of Paterson Dying and Refining Company, that the best way to find his new treasurer is to play a round of golf with each of the candidates and judge them on their temper. When he discovers who the two candidates are though, he realizes he has made a mistake and attempts to set things right.
"The Long Hole" is the story of two competitors for the attentions of Amanda Trivett, Ralph Bingham and Arthur Jukes, who have decided to play one long hole of golf to determine which one gets to marry her.
"The Heel of Achilles" is the story of Vincent Jopp, an American multi-millionaire who seems to be able to do anything he sets his mind to do. When Amelia Merridew agrees to marry him if he wins the Amateur title he sets his mind to do just that. When he appears to have conquered golf just as easily as anything else, she grows desperate as she really wants to marry someone else.
"The Rough Stuff" is the story of Ramsden Waters who has fallen for Eunice Bray. The problem is that every other single male has fallen for her as well, and Ramsden seems unable to form a complete sentence in the presence of women. When a stroke of luck pairs them together for a golf tournament, Ramsden finds the words to propose which Eunice refuses. However, their round of golf together changes many things.
"The Coming of Gowf" is the story of how golf was spread from Scotland to Oom, where golf (or Gowf) becomes a new religion.
One thing that is clear from these stories, especially the last one, is that to P. G. Wodehouse there are two types of people in the world, those who love golf, and those who don't know what it is yet. These stories are fun, but they do lack the many twists and turns that are in the best Wodehouse stories. Thus, I decided to go with a high 3-star rating instead of a low 4-star one.