A Satisfying Moment in Literature

“‘You’re too late. She’s my wife!’
‘No, she’s your widow.’
His revolver cracked[…]”

There are moments when reading literature where I can’t help but talk to the book like a sports fan talks to the tv:

“Atta boy, go Carruthers!”

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Sugar-Free Holmes

I went to the bookstore last Sunday to stare at books that I wish I had the means to purchase, drink hot things, and daydream. And while I couldn’t buy even a quarter of what I wanted to, I did walk out with a gift: A conversation I overheard between two women in line to get their drinks at the bookstore café. It took a little while for my brain to recognize the fact that they were talking about Sherlock Holmes, but when it did I couldn’t help but listen in. If they every read this (which is unlikely) I apologize for being nosey.

Woman#1 “’Cunning fiend.’”

Woman#2 “What?”

Woman#1 “‘Cunning fiend’; that’s all he could say.”

Woman#2 “That’s all who could say?”

(Both order hot chocolates before continuing the conversation)

Woman#1 “The villain. Colonel…colonel something. Moran.”

Woman#2 “And why was he saying this?”

Woman#1 “Because Holmes had tackled him after he had shot a dummy.”

Woman#2 (confused) “Shot a dummy…Why would he shoot-oh, wait, is Moran the air gun guy?”

Woman#1 “Yep.”

Woman#2 “Oh, yah, I remember…(noise of liquid being sipped through cup) ‘Cunning fiend,’ huh?”

Woman#1 “Yep.”

Woman#2 “Not much of an insult, is it?”

Woman#1 (Laughing) “No. No, but he couldn’t possibly insult Sherlock, Moran is too much in awe of him to insult him…and stuff.”

Woman#2 “Oh, so the problem is the awe factor? It trumps absolutely everything, even the fear of going to jail?”

Woman#1 “Yep. Villains can’t even insult Sherlock because he is too amazing. It’s those fabulous qualities of being cunning. And clever. And…(struggles for words)

Woman#2 Sugar-free?

(moment of silence)

Woman#1 Oh my god (LAUGHS)  yes! Yes, that’s the reason. Holmes…(unable to talk through laughing) is sugar-free! After everything, that’s what really does it to them.

Woman#2 (Dramatic tone) “’You cunning, sugar-free beast!’”

Woman#1 (Still laughing)

Woman#2 (Dramatic tone continuing) “’Ruining all my plans at the last moment with your incredible physical prowess and absurdly clever ways. Damn your magnificent, sugarless brain!’”

Woman#1 (Unintelligible speech and laughter)

At this point, I was giggling and I hid it by pretending to eat my sugar cookie. I wrote it down as best I could and wish I had been recording it.

I believe in Sugar-Free Holmes.

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?

The Theory of Relativity

“Everything in this world is relative, my dear Watson.” – Sherlock Holmes

Everything is relative.
I wrote it on the board in big white letters,
went back to my desk and stared at it.
I was proud of my new discovery,
of my new eternal truth
like I had discovered the newest e=mc2
And I took it very seriously,
frowning at it as I considered
how very relative everything was.

Everything is relative.
It became my new mantra,
my answer for everything,
my tension killer.
Everything is relative.
It is the universal tool,
what more do you need?

Then I read the Sherlock quote
ten years later
and wondered why no one had told me.
Why someone along the line
hadn’t been good enough to say
it had been done before,
that I had other things to aspire to,
other thoughts to see to.

Holmes already has that covered,
What do you need me to do?