For a change, a review of a dieselpunk-era classic: Psmith, Journalist, by the beloved English author P.G. Wodehouse.
Despite the fact that this novel was first published as a serial in The Captain Magazine in 1909, it remains a read well worth your time. This is definitely a timeless dieselpunk story. Everyone who loves gangster-era America should pick it up.
In fact, you will probably find yourself re-reading this quite a few times when you do.
We find our hero, Psmith (the “P” is silent) in New York, having accompanied his friend Mike on an American cricket tour. Not being a player himself, he finds himself wandering town and acquaints a newspaper man finding himself in a bit of a conundrum by a manner of cat and content. And so, as these things go where Psmith is involved, he becomes part of the hard-hitting journalistic world of the Big Apple.
Enter boxing, gangs, more cats and a whole slew of colorful characters and situations. (If you want spoilers, go to Wikipedia, because you won’t get them from me!)
Even though this book features quite a bit of social commentary on the life in Manhattan at the time, it also grants a unique insight into many aspects of it. All the while maintaining a sense of humor that will keep you struggling not to laugh out loud at many of the hilarious situations that ensue. The writer provides the ultimate balance between the seriousness of the subject and light-hearted banter to keep the attention of the reader from the first word to the last, without things becoming too dry and grave.
The characters are brilliantly portrayed and you will wish you had a friend like Psmith when you’ve finished the novel.
Luckily, he stars in several more, so there is no shortage of adventures of this monocle-sporting Old Etonian.
For those who don’t mind reading on a screen, this book is available for free at Project Gutenberg.