Olsson's Book Bits

by Greta Olsson

Three Men in a Boat
Three Men on the Bummel (Bicycle)

by Jerome K. Jerome

First book published in 1889, second book in 1900, and published together in Penguin Classics 1999
361 pages (two novels plus notes)

by Greta Olsson

Two husbands and one bachelor take a vacation trip on a boat and then a second one on two bicycles - one a tandem. Bas Blue Books (think Blue Stocking Ladies) advertised this volume as the funniest humorous book in English. I didn't find the book uproariously funny, only mildly amusing. The books may have really amused readers in the 18OO's.

To give you a sample of the book's best: "...after that we put the kettle on to boil, up in the nose of the boat, and went down to the stern and pretended to take no notice of it, but set to work...

"That is the only way to get a kettle to boil up the river. If it sees that you are waiting for it and anxious, it will never even sing. You have to go away and begin your meal, as if you were not going to have any tea at all. You must not even look around at it. Then you will soon hear it sputtering away, mad to be made into tea.

"It is a good plan too, if you're in a great hurry, to talk very loudly to each other about how you don't need any tea, and are not going to have any. You get near the kettle so that it can overhear you, and then shout out, 'I don't want any tea, do you George?' to which George shouts back, 'Oh, no, I don't like tea; we'll have lemonade instead - tea's so indigestible.' Upon which the kettle boils over, and puts the stove out...


"How good one feels when one is full - how satisfied with ourselves and with the world!" He then illustrates how George and Harris might kill each other before their meal, and how loving and kind they are after a big meal, very forgiving of EVERYTHING!

The second novel and trip also starts out with a boat and a sailor who found the wind impossible no matter which way it was blowing. The men finally stole the boat to get going and eventually switched to bicycles. The style of humor is the same, as above.

The Elliott Bay Book Company, located at 101 S. Main Street, in Seattle, Washington, is well liked by authors throughout America. I've heard both Ann Rule and Marianne Wiggins, (Salmon Rushdie's second wife) read from and sign their own books there. Both acknowledged what a great store it is. On July 31 the twenty four year old Tao Lin mentioned his book of stories, Bed, and read from his first novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee. The parts he read had too many scatological references for my taste. However the poem he recited from memory was amusing. I'm also working from memory and not a manuscript, so please forgive any errors.

When I was five years old,
my family and I went fishing.
My father caught a turtle.
My mother caught a salmon.
My brother caught a mackerel,
And I caught a whale.
The first night we ate turtle.
The second night we ate salmon.
The third night we ate mackerel.
The fourth night we ate whale.
The fifth night we ate whale.
The sixth night we ate whale.
The seventh night - etc. for 30,000 nights!

The last Wednesday of each month is open mike night, with an open invitation to all to come read and/or attend. Sign up starts at 7:OO PM.

I was able to ask Ann Rule, who has 27 published true crime books to her credit, (the 28th will be out soon), how she has the courage to go after killers. She answered that she follows certain rules: (1) you will never see groups mentioned involved with drugs, for example; (2) she steers clear of top headline cases; (3) she won't attack a cartel; (4) you won't find a motorcycle gang in her books. She is also careful about self-protection.

Her story about serial killer Ted Bundy was fascinating. They both worked late at night in a large empty mansion in Seattle. (They were on suicide prevention lines.) Even at 3:OO AM or 4:OO AM, Bundy always insisted upon walking Ann to her car. "Now lock your windows and doors," he always cautioned. "I don't want anything to happen to you." She couldn't believe the dark side of his personality. She claimed that she didn't have a clue.

However, she later recalled that she had a large, sweet dog - part collie, part lab, and part something else, I don't remember what - that usually sat at her feet. When Bundy came too close to Ann when she was seated at her desk, the dog always growled. The dog didn't do that to any other person. Ann now thinks her dog's behavior was a clue that she was overlooking. Now she pays much more attention to what a good dog might do.

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