Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Land of Green Ginger

I'm reading The Land of Green Ginger (1975) by Noel Langley to my sons at bedtime. (Langley, incidentally, also wrote the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz.) I've just finished Chapter 2, or as it called in the book "Chapter The Second: Which Explains How Abu Ali Began the Search for the Land of Green Ginger, and Introduces Us to the Wicked Prince Tintac Ping Foo". (Chapter 1 is entitled "Chapter The First: Which Explains How, When, and Where There Was Ever Any Problem in the First Place".)

Promising, yes? And judging by the first two chapters, I can report that The Land of Green Ginger more than delivers on this promise. It is a wonderful book with memorable characters and a great story. But its principal pleasure, for me, is its delightfully humorous prose. Permit me to show and not simply tell. Here is a small excerpt from Chapter The Second:
And even though he is the hero of this tale, Prince Abu Ali had his faults, gentle reader, and it now my painful duty to enumerate them.

He was too amiable; too good-natured; too kindly; too honest, and too fair-minded.

He was too considerate of other people's feelings.

He laughed too easily, and he was much too sympathetic.

He was deeply fond of both his parents.

He was never lazy, impudent, or ill-mannered.

He could never raise his voice in foolish rage, or be a tattle-tale behind your back.

He was, in fact, quite hopeless. Nobody in the Court could see any hope for him. They were sure he'd make a highly unsuccessful Emperor. They doubted whether he would even be able to make a good marriage; because any real Princess was bound to find him as dull as ditchwater.
That is worthy of the master of comic prose himself, P. G. Wodehouse.

I can already see that The Land of Green Ginger will be one of those books that I enjoy reading so much that I regret finishing it.

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