Monthly Archives: September 2011

Holmes, Sherlock Holmes

the iconic Holmes look

Pretty much anyone who has known me in the past, oh, two or three years, knows that I’m obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. I’ve always had a love of the Victorian era, as well as intelligent, fast-paced gothic tales, but I will admit that it took reading about Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film to get me into 221B Baker Street and the rest of Holmes’ world. Since then, I’ve read every single one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the iconic detective. And maybe it’s because I’ve been looking or maybe it’s because Robert Downey, Jr. inspired people to bring him back to life, but Sherlock is everywhere these days.

First of all, there’s a second movie called A Game of Shadows coming out at the end of this year (in which we get a lot of Moriarty action, I hear, and Stephen Fry as Mycroft(!)). The trailer is here:

Beyond Hollywood, there’s a fantastically adapted modern-day interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes stories in the form of a mini-series on the BBC (the first series was a cruelly brief three episodes, but they are currently filming a second, and to my knowledge whole, series). It’s called simply, Sherlock, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (not a name you forget easily) as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson (busy guy, what with The Hobbit filming currently as well). The show practically uses the original stories as scripts for each episode, with clever exceptions where necessary to make modern little details like transportation, technology, acquisition of knowledge, etc. Its trailer is here:

how many pipes does one man need?

And while movies and TV shows are all well and good, I much prefer pages to screens. However, as I said before, I’ve read every story. Of course, I love going back and rereading them from time to time (the novels are long enough for a day or two’s time and the stories are perfect for before-bed reading), but it’s such a fantastic moment to discover something new. And I’m waiting for two of them.

The first is released October 25th and is an anthology of stories written by popular, modern-day authors and inspired by the Holmes tales. Titled A Study in Sherlock (a play off Doyle’s first ever Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet), the collection is positively bursting with names: Alan Bradley, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, and Laura Lippman, just to name a few. I, for one, have high hopes. It was preordered weeks ago, and the countdown has finally begun.

what an enigmatic title!

The second new addition to the Holmes repertoire is a new story, written similarly to the way Doyle himself wrote his. The novel has been sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, and promises to be a thrilling story presented as if it was written by Holmes (or Watson) at the time at which the events took place, but sealed with instructions not to open it for 100 years, which I think is just the cleverest of touches. The new book is called The House of Silk; it’s written by Anthony Horowitz; and it comes out November 1st. I can’t wait.

And whatever shall I do to while away the hours as I wait? Why, plan my Halloween costume, of course. That’s right. I’m going to be Sexy Sherlock Holmes. “Can it be done?” you ask. Well, you just wait. There’s proof of that to come.

The Higher Powers of Language

I’m currently reading one of my favorites kinds of books: Victorian gothic. I love the genre for its themes of darkness and light, its use of vibrant, elaborate, flowery language and shadowy characters, its expertly woven webs of complexity and intrigue, and perhaps most of all, for the undercurrent of a love for great literature. Victorian gothic novels feature principals that read almost as much as I do, and I find that this addition in character development supplements the storyline in ways that allow for greater intelligence, cunning, and imagination on the main character’s part. In essence, main characters who read make for better reads themselves.

Case in point, a quote from The Glass of Time, by Michael Cox, spoken by the main character’s tutor and remembered, written down, and conveyed to the reader by his pupil, Esperanza Gorst:

If we are insensible to the higher powers of language, then we are but crawling things upon the earth, mutely struggling towards the day of our extinction; but with the proper acquisition and use of language, in all its plenitude, we can contend with angels.

I, of course, immediately copied this bit down as well and haven’t stopped loving it since, and it got me thinking about other favorite novels that profess a passion for books, and I came up with a quick list. I think it’s clear my feelings about books like this, so by nature, these all come highly recommended.

P.S. The purpose of this post is to encourage reciprocal recommendations. Please, indulge me.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly

The Meaning of Night, Michael Cox

Atonement, Ian McEwan

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon