Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Literary Wonder Drug

by Barbara Kyle

I’m feeling pretty happy these days because I’ve just finished writing a new book, my twelfth novel.


However, during the eighteen months it took to complete, there were days when the work was definitely not making me happy.


Luckily, my career as a writer has taught me how to deal with those “blah” days. I take a literary anti-depressant. Powerful, but safe and reliable, it’s a true wonder drug.


My literary anti-depressant of choice is any book by P.G. Wodehouse, the genius who created the ineffable valet Jeeves and his inane but lovable employer, Bertie Wooster. Whenever I feel down, a hit of Wodehouse’s writing gives me a warm, mellow high.

Besides being a genius of madcap storytelling, Wodehouse invented some marvelous words. Three examples:


Gruntled. Adjective meaning "contented," the antonym to "disgruntled," coined in The Code of the Woosters (1938): "He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled."


Persp. Short for "perspiration," this first appeared in The Inimitable Jeeves (1923): "The good old persp. was bedewing my forehead by this time in a pretty lavish manner."


Plobby. This describes the sound of a pig eating. It appears in Blandings Castle (1935): "A sort of gulpy, gurgly, plobby, squishy, wofflesome sound, like a thousand eager men drinking soup in a foreign restaurant."


Here's the prescription for this literary wonder drug:


Dosage: One to three chapters every evening before bedtime.

Efficacy: 100%

Side effects: Tender abdomen from laughing; sore facial muscles from smiling; stiff neck from shaking head repeatedly at the wonder of the author's comic genius.


Contraindications: Do not take this drug if you suffer from hard-heartedness or lack a sense of humor.


"Wodehouse's world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in." - Evelyn Waugh.


 Jeeves Collection: My Man Jeeves, Right Ho, Jeeves, and the Inimitable Jeeves



How about you? On a “blah” day what’s your literary anti-depressant?





Barbara Kyle is the author of the bestselling Thornleigh Saga series of historical novels and of acclaimed thrillers. Her latest novel of suspense is The Man from Spirit Creek. Over half a million copies of her books have been sold. Barbara has taught hundreds of writers in her online Masterclasses and many have become award-winning authors. Visit Barbara at 


  1. I haven't read Wodehouse, but these sound like fun. I'm a pretty eclectic reader, but now and then I have to read something frivolous to clear my literary palate.

    1. Oh, you'd love Wodehouse, Saralyn. I know you're a connoisseur of sparkling prose, and Wodehouse is a true master.

  2. Haven't read Wodehouse, Barbara, but I'm definitely a fan of the old television series starring Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Stephen Fry as Jeeves. Just thinking about it still makes me smile. Good one to chase away the blues. Thanks for restoring it to my memory. So good!

    1. Yes! And Stephen Fry narrates several Jeeves audiobooks. On his site he talks about “the extraordinary, magical and blessed miracle of Wodehouse's prose, a prose that dispels doubt much as sunlight dispels shadows ... In my teenage years, his writings awoke me to the possibilities of language. His rhythms, tropes, tricks and mannerisms are deep within me. But more than that, he taught me something about good nature. It is enough to be benign, to be gentle, to be funny, to be kind.”

  3. OH my goodness, thank you for reminding me of these books. A literary antidepressant, indeed!

    1. My pleasure, Shari. Enjoy this happy addiction :)

  4. Barbara, I take this antidepressant as well. In addition to Wodehouse's wittiest of writing, he describes a world that is utterly silly and free of lofty thinking. Love him.

  5. Congratulations on finishing your twelfth novel!!

    1. Thank you, Kathryn, that's most kind. It was a first in one way: my first novel using 1st person POV. I'd thought that would be a challenge but turned out to be a breeze. My agent has now sent it out on submission, so all my fingers are crossed (which makes typing rather difficult, LOL!).

    2. I agree 1st person POV is much easier! I'll cross my fingers for you as soon as I finish working at the computer today!


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