Remember my bold March reading plans, so recently announced? Well, it’s not that they are completely derailed or anything, but I admit that The Man Who Loved Children has presented me with an unexpected obstacle in the form of Sam Pollit, the single most annoying character I’ve ever met. What’s so annoying about him? Mostly, that he talks like this:
‘Boys,’ said he, ‘boys, you soon won’t have your little feyther with you. He is going away to Greenland’s icy mountings and India’s coral strand. You have to look after yourselves, your mother, and your sisters. I want all of you to stand together and look after the house for me, not only the female hanni-miles mentioned and aforesaid, but also the real honest-to-goodness hanni-miles, Procyon the raccoon, Gimlet the parrot, Didelpha the vixen opossum, Cocky-Andy the sulphur-crested cockatoo, Big-Me the pygmy oppossum, not to mention the birds and reptilians. That will be quite a job even for you smart boys. Now we’ll have to work up a schedule. And fustest, you must write to your poor Sam [that’s him] ebbly week and tell him how ’tis tuh hum; and second, you must keep a record of the birds and anni-miles wot visit Tohoga House. Tohoga Place that is. No! Momento! Loogoobrious can do that. It will be a good thing for her, keep her mind off of her herself, on which onpleasant objeck,’ he continued (believing that Louie was there), ‘it is glued at time of speaking. But that is, no doubt, on account of her fai-hairy figuar and her bewchus face.’
Seriously, WTF? I am pretty sure he is meant to be annoying–insufferable, even?–but if that quality is too perfectly realized, it’s about as risky as representing a tedious bore too exactly (the Baron of Bradwardine, anyone? who is rescued only–or maybe not quite–by Scott’s obvious affection for him and what he stands for?). We’ll see how this goes. At the moment, though, I dislike it so intensely whenever Sam starts talking that (a) I am all on his neurotic wife’s side in what he calls “this everlasting schism” (they aren’t speaking–but can you blame her?) and (b) I am hoping his trip to “Greenland’s icy mountings” lasts the rest of the novel.