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Three Theban Plays by Patricia Craig

Three Theban Plays

by Patricia Craig (Editor)

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A mixed bag, Kipling, Saki, Wodehouse are reliable, others sort of "meh."
  ritaer | Jun 24, 2012 |
If I've learned anything about how to approach an anthology edited by Patricia Craig, I've learned not to read sequentially -- unless she sticks to a strict chronological order. Left to her own devices, she seems to organize her collections by surrounding an outstanding specimen with some very dull dogs indeed. So I find a reliable author and jump in. Once I hit upon a winner, I pick an item 3 or 4 spots ahead or behind it and proceed accordingly. It's a scientific approach, I believe, and as with much science, it often leads to frustration bordering on despair. In this case, I hit pay dirt first try, Robert Graves' "Period Piece": even though it's basically a one-joke effort, the punch line is terrific and the Wodehousian buildup is fine. From there on, however, my system failed me; with one glum entry after another, no matter how madly I hopped about. It was like driving through southern Alabama. In a collection of "comic stories," you'd expect a minimum one laugh per, wouldn't you? Or at least a chuckle? A smile? More often, I found myself habitually counting the number of pages left in this particular loser. Even when I tried righting myself with a dependable stalwart (Kingsley Amis, for example), I was stymied. Clump! -- another leaden effort hit the floor. Wodehouse himself is represented by a second-tier effort, but at least there was merriment present. Other memorable contributions came from Muriel Spark and Michael Frayn, although the latter's transcript of an afternoon with the most boring family in England went on a page or two too long; and there were only five of them! As everyone knows, many, many volumes could be loaded brimful with top-quality humor from the British Isles. This is not one of those. ( )
  jburlinson | Feb 28, 2010 |
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