Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "The Sunny Side"

The Sunny Side:
Short Stories and Poems for Proper Grown-Ups
By A.A. Milne
Copyright 1921
Harper-Collins Publishing
Short Story Collection

I've been getting kind of bored with the "how to parent your kid" books, so I thought I'd try something totally out of the ordinary.  I grabbed this short story collection (by the author of the Winnie the Pooh series) and was quite pleased with it! 

Milne has a lovely, vintage, satirical style that was truly joyful to read (although it did make me feel about 70 years old).  Everything from a tale about "Toby" (a "nice" horse), and "Common" (a decorative dog who goes to war), to some quick and clever poems, to an evening playing cards together as friends, they all have just a touch of whimsy and express the feelings of taking joy from the small things in life.

I enjoyed the story called "The Arrival of Blackman's Warbler", in which the narrator decides to act like he knows more than he does, and then must go to great lengths to avoid being caught in the lie. 

Not to be outdone by the likes of Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen, Milne adds a fable called "The Legend of Hi-You" to his collection.  It is the story of a pig farmer who convinces himself, and eventually others, that one of his pigs is actually a prince who has been cast under an evil spell.  I rather enjoyed the writing on this one, and the twist at the end (although not surprising), was cute.

You wouldn't think that an author would really make much fun of themselves, but Milne manages to do that on quite a few occasions, even remarking at one point on his poetry that "Anyhow it was a lie, as so much good poetry is."

One of the essays was entitled "The Perils of Reviewing".  It is Milne's take on what happens when one is asked to review a book, decides not to read it before reviewing it, and the consequences that follow.  Milne writes, "I reviewed a book the other day.  It is not often I do this, because before one can review a book one has to, or is supposed to, read it, which wastes a good deal of time."  As a fan of other satirical writers, such as Ray Bradbury, Flannery O'Connor, Dave Barry and Gary Larson, I rather enjoyed the tone of this one.  For obvious reasons, this was my favorite essay of the entire collection. 

Unless you're bothered by a slightly old-fashioned style of writing, this collection would be quite an enjoyable one for anyone to spend a lovely afternoon with, especially sitting under a giant oak tree in the Hundred Acre Wood.  It was delightful!

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