cover image The Sunny Side: Short Stories and Poems for Proper Grown-ups

The Sunny Side: Short Stories and Poems for Proper Grown-ups

A. A. Milne, . . Ecco, $19.95 (312pp) ISBN 978-0-06-122709-7

F irst published in 1921, this witty, pleasantly rarefied miscellany from Winnie-the-Pooh creator Milne features his contributions to the British magazine Punch , where he was assistant editor, in the years before and after WWI. In disarming short pieces grouped around various themes, the deft Milne gently—very gently—skewers the peccadilloes of his generation and its classes, such as Simon Simpson, the “litterateur of some eminence but little circulation,” who invites all his friends to join him on a lazy holiday on the French Riviera (“Oranges and Lemons”). In the section “Men of Letters,” Milne has great fun caricaturing the self-serious pomposity of fellow writers and poets, and even offers a sampling of the tedious fare presented at Lady Poldoodle’s Poetry At-Homes. Some of the pieces in the “War-Time” section chronicle the humble predicament of the French infantryman: managing an intractable horse or finding comfort in a toy dog. A set of “Home Notes” concerns the narrator’s dear thoughts on married life with the sensible but rather fluttery Celia; one piece finds the couple instigating a mystifying dinner party game of Proverbs. Milne’s quotidian observations remain quite moving in their wry simplicities, which are not simple at all. (July)