the diary of a nobody

Title :: Diary of a Nobody
Author :: George & Weedon Grossmith
Completed :: Mar 31 2008
Challenges :: 1001 Books
Rating :: 5/5

Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see — because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' — why my diary should not be interesting. My only regret is that I did not commence it when I was a youth.

This was a fantastic read and really made my day! As you may recall I finally stumbled upon a copy the day I decided to make a trek around Liverpool. Sitting at Starbucks on Castle Street I devoured 50 some odd pages and drank a too sweet too spicy iced chai tea latte (I don't think drinking it iced here is a big thing because they never seem to get it quite right). I was giggling and completely unaware if anyone was giving me funny looks not that I would care because it was that good!

Originally appearing as a serial in Punch magazine in 1888 and 1889, George Grossmith provides the witty dialogue of Charles Pooter's diary while his brother Weedon complements it with his drawings. Yes a grown up book with drawings! Love it! So why would anyone want to read the diary of a nobody? Well because that diary of a 'nobody' could very well be filled with witticisms and mocking commentary making the everyday life of a lower middle class man seem extraordinary and filled with moments of delight. In his various ramblings Pooter also displays his social insecurity and how he goes about trying to remedy the view his peers may or may not have of him. Awhile ago I stumbled upon a review that unfortunately I can't find but I wrote down a quote that I liked : "Diary of a Nobody now seems like a startlingly prescient mickey-take of the self-importance of today's bloggers."

Charles Pooter is a loveable character, his mannerisms are quirky and very realistic. I loved his little obsession with buying various pots of paint to beautify or change the things around him. For example one day he bought a pot of red paint and decided to repaint some terracotta pots, his wife's approval of the change led him to enter the house and begin changing the color of other various furniture. He entered the maid's quarters and decided to paint her bureau red even though she was quite happy with its original shade. Upon entering the bathroom Pooter believed the bathtub to be too white and so decided to paint it red, a mistake he realized later while taking a hot bath. This scene is illustrated on the cover pictured above. He made the mistake of painting his friend's cane black to give it the look of ebony, which made his friend livid after first believing the painted cane to have been a family heirloom. It just little things like these that make this book such a giggle fest.

I also enjoyed the chapter leaders that gave a brief preview of the giggling to come. Here's the leader into chapter 11 as an example :
We have a dose of Irving imitations. Make the acquaintance of a Mr. Padge. Don't care for him. Mr. Burwin-Fosselton becomes a nuisance.
and chapter 18:
Trouble with a stylographic pen. We go to a Volunteer Ball, where I am let in for an expensive supper. Grossly insulted by a cabman. An odd invitation to Southend.

Apparently the book has spawned the word "Pooterish" to describe a tendency to take oneself excessively seriously. I see that the book was adapted by BBC twice, the second having only aired last April! I would have loved to have seen this and wonder if it's available on DVD. There's an online weblog version of the diary that pretends 2008 is 1888 and publishes the days accordingly. It might be a fun way to read Pooter's diary although there will be a few days and weeks missing because there were times when Pooter didn't write, and then there were the pages ripped out of his diary and stolen, a mystery to his great frustration never resolved.

Other Thoughts ::
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!

. listening . american baby . dave matthews band . stand up .


posted by Ashleigh @ 18:21,


At 14 April 2008 at 20:36, Blogger Carl V. said...

I need to pick up a copy of this! I read it online a few years back and loved it. I would enjoy it even more with illustrations. Great review.


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    ashleigh (ash'lė) n.
    1: egyptologist; currently living in the uk attempting to obtain a phd in egyptology, hoping in the end there will be a job.
    2: literary; reading to escape reality, to improve conversation, for inspiration.
    3: crafter; crocheting and needlework, creating heirlooms, keeping the world warm.
    4: dreamer; head in the clouds, full of fantasies, wishing to be someone else, somewhere else.
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