Saturday, November 12, 2011
The other day I was in my favorite kind of place (a book store), but the Judas of all bookstores (Barnes and Noble) and I saw volume one of compiled Sherlock Holmes stories and books... yep, very cool. If you have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you know what I mean. Several months ago I read the Hound of the Baskervilles and I was immediately taken in. I felt like a kid that just discovered an unidentifiable object in the back yard and was convinced it was from another planet. I thought, I can't believe that I have lived twenty-six years of my life and never have read these amazing stories. Look, I admit I have no excuse, everyone knows who Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are, but I just assumed growing up (wrongly) that it was just a bunch of stuffy turn of the century British literature, it turns out that is one of my favorite periods of literature, so far. I found a used old copy of the Hound of the Baskervilles at a big covered flee market in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It sat on the shelf as I read other books, nagging at me. I would look at it and it's cheap old cover and something told me it's gonna be awesome, so I picked it up and started reading... needles to say it only took a few days for me to read. I was enthralled the whole time and since then I have been wanting to put my hands on more of his stories; so when I came upon the compilation of stories I was like a kid in a candy store. At the time I was reading "In Our Time" by Ernest Hemingway. "In Our Time" was amazing and I will discuss that more later, but as I finished it the Sherlock Holmes book sat on my coffee table eating at me. If I had been reading a lesser book I would have possibly stopped or sped through it to get to Sherlock, but it's Ernest Hemingway. Every time I stop in the middle of a book a piece of my soul is paused till later, even books that have lost my interest. These books haunt me until I go back and finish them. One that currently haunts me is The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I digress, lets talk about Sherlock Holmes. I have never been much a crime mystery reader. There seems to be a lot of crime stories/books around, but only a few writers do it really well. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has to be the gold standard in this field. His stories draw you in. You are trying to guess who the culprit was and how it happened, and the reader always believes they can, but he always finds a way to still surprise you. He does this without having to make a crazy unbelievable twist in the story, like so many mystery stories. This is the brilliance of the character of Sherlock to always connect all the dots and his explanations are done within the context of the story. This combined with the setting of 19th century London makes anything possible. The sun didn't set on the British Empire and it was a city with ties to the entire world. It makes you want to go back in time and walk the streets and hail horse drawn cabs. I think this series is enhanced if you have visited London. The city and it's architecture and diversity lends itself to Sherlock's time. Brilliant stuff. I haven't been this excited to read a story since I finished the Harry Potter series. It again shows that great works are timeless.