Familiarity Breeds Confusion

A puzzle, Dear Readers…Consider the following phrase:

“I know it’s you by your dagger.”

Does it sound familiar to you? Because it did to me.

When I read it in a poem featured in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers (“On Leaving the Boy in the Battlefield” by the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize-winner, Ansel Elkins) the words rang a deep, round, well-embedded little bell in my head, telling me I had heard/read it before, possibly more than once. Automatically, I supposed the author was paraphrasing Shakespeare, thinking it was just the sort of thing Shakespeare would say. I was already developing foggy visions of conspiring murderers, maybe something from Richard III


According to the Internet, we cannot blame Shakespeare. And while the poem makes use of fragments of Archilochus’s work, this line is not his either. By all accounts, this line is original to the author. However, this does not remove the idea that I have heard it before.

So, the question I put to you is this: do you know the phrase? Does it ring any bells with you and, if so, who is pulling the cord? Let me know what you know.

‘Til next time…


The Case of the Half-Completed Canon

So, I recently finished the last of the only four Sherlock Holmes novels. And while I still have something like 60 short stories to catch up on, I think four books worth of reading counts as half the canon.  After all of this reading, I am amazed at how much time Doyle spends in America. When you’re looking forward to adventures in a country that is not your own, you feel a bit cheated when you think you’ve bought a ticket for a foreign place and the plane drops you off at home. But, being that Doyle wasn’t really writing for an American audience, it makes sense. America was, at one time, considered as wild and exotic as any other place on Earth, even in the eyes of its own people. And though not fraught with tigers, fictional America was apparently simply riddled with gun-toting murderers and men with incredible personal histories who, after their grand and sordid American adventures, somehow found themselves in England.

Below is a very short list of things I found notable or interesting, all entirely subjective.

Most memorable moment which occurred while reading the books: My mother calling Sherlock Holmes a bastard.

Most memorable moment which occurred within the books: Can’t say without spoiling the story for other people, but it was in Baskervilles.

Favorite of the four novels: The Hound of the Baskervilles
So far, this story is unrivaled by any of the other Holmes stories. It is a delightful walk along the border of the supernatural and the mundane. It more satisfying than some Gothic novels for ambiance and horror and also adequately detective-y. And it’s an intriguing story when you take Conan Doyle’s relationship with the supernatural into account; it makes you wonder how much of the story is an argument between his personal beliefs and the reason-bound character he created.

Second favorite book: The Sign of the Four
It’s a good old-fashioned adventure. Mystery, romance, and a brief cameo by a slow-worm. Who can say no to that?