“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Sherlock Rocks!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

As I mentioned previously, the Geek and I saw the Sherlock Holmes movie twice in December. I had never read the stories, but I was excited about the movie from the first time I saw that it was being made. Maybe it was because it was based on classic literature, though I am usually skeptical about the authenticity of such movies. A few are done well and remain true to the original story, but unfortunately too many are not.

Of course, since I had never read the Sherlock Holmes stories, I had no idea at first whether the movie was true to the original or not. But once I had seen the movie, I had to find out. The characters, the story, the style were all fascinating, and if the written stories were anything like the movie, I wanted to read them.

I had never been particularly interested in mysteries. My mother had given me her Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew books when I was a little girl, and while I read them, it was more for a love of reading than for the thrill of the mystery, and many years later I remember more of the characters than I do of the stories. And as for Sherlock Holmes, I knew the basics – that he was a private detective; that he had a friend named Dr. Watson; that he lived on Baker Street in London; that he played the violin – but that was about all I knew. I had enough interest to pick up a copy of "A Treasury of Sherlock Holmes" for 50 cents at a thrift shop years ago, but not enough to have read it after buying it.

So when I got home from the movie, I started digging through the boxes of books that are stashed around our house since we have limited shelving space and a plethora of books to fill it, and I found "A Treasury of Sherlock Holmes". The book I had been reading was set aside for a while and I delved into a world of foggy London streets, seemingly unsolveable mysteries, and downright campy fun.

I think that's what I liked about it most. The mysteries and Holmes' uncanny knack for solving them were quite engaging, but there is something about Holmes' slightly off-kilter character and the way the stories don't take themselves too seriously that makes them absolutely delightful to read. I found myself devouring page after page, story after story, and loving every word.

And I was thrilled to find that the movie had been true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Holmes, though not tall and thin as the author described him, was characterized perfectly as a near madman, absolutely unpredictable, beyond moody, who kept his tobacco in his slipper and lived in a state that would appear to any outsider to be a complete disaster, though he always knew where to find any item that was needed at a moment's notice. The manner in which he conducted his investigations, the more reasonable though imperfect character of Dr. Watson, the quality of the settings, were all very much in sync between the movie and the book.

The collection I read contained two of the original novels and twenty-some short stories, but after reading them, I would love to someday read the stories that were left out as well, both because I so enjoyed the others, and to get a more complete picture of the over-arching story of Holmes' and Watson's lives.

If you are like I was and have never read Sherlock Holmes' classic stories, I would highly recommend trying at least one or two. Even if you don't typically read mysteries, you may find that you enjoy these. And if you haven't seen the movie, I would definitely recommend it as well. It's hilarious, interesting, thrilling, and beautiful – just like the written stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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At 3/08/2010 3:07 PM, Anonymous HolyMama! wrote:

i think you sold me. i need to re-read!
(or read... surely at some point I've read... huh. maybe not. i can't remember.)


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