Alicia's Reviews > Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
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May 13, 12

bookshelves: highly-recommended, seven-shades-of-funny
Read in January, 1998

Hands down, one of the funniest if not THE funniest, book I have ever read.

You have probably read other reviews that give you an idea of plot-- except of course there is no plot, just a series of set ups so Jerome (we're on a first and last name basis) can describe the pickles his hapless three get themselves into and them miraculously out of. (The dog has the most dignity of the crew.) The tone is matter of fact in the best traditions of English humor. The pace would be leisurely if the reader were not so anxious to have more...I became greedy for the next page. Complaints about distractions in the plot aren't quite on the mark -- the whole book is a distraction. But I will admit there are moments of unevenness. Even the best of stand up comics have some bits that don't work as well.

There are all sorts of humor. The poke-you-in-your-eye, slapstick funny. Satire and hyperbole. The pull your leg/didn't realize there for a minute that the author was just kidding funny. This one is definitely in the absurdist school but generally so well presented that, if the universe underwent the slightest shift, it might have happened just as Jerome describes.

Caution: do not read while holding hot liquids, or drinking anything at all that might go up your nose, or in church. You will end up making impossible and/or impolite sounds. It is very rare that I laugh out loud when I read. This is the absolute exception, and not just one chortle but a nearly continuous series of wheezes, gasps, strangled snorts and other noises that startle the cat.

PS--I tried one or two of Jerome's other books (Three Men on the Bummel comes to mind). No where as successful as Three Men in a Boat.

PPS--The book was written in 1898. The intervening years don't matter a bit.
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