Tag Archives: Famous

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Vol 3: A Most Impressive Business

              

I downloaded the audio book of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from the very tech-friendly Hamilton Public Library and delighted in listening to some British accented fellow read me bite sized mysteries. I took the voice and the book first to the grocery store (but not *in* the grocery store; I detest listening to anything whilst shopping – far too distracting), then to cook a cake, and then about the library browsing books. I ended up relistening to the browsing books story, as it turns out I am not capable of attending to two things at once (somehow walking doesn’t count as a ‘thing’ – I seem capable of walking and listening. thankfully.). 

I enjoyed both the pace of the stories – neither too winding, nor too abrupt – the tantalizing clues that you just *know* are clues, but cannot work out, and the focalization of Watson. I was telling M. yesterday that I like Watson’s point of view because it somehow subjects Holmes to the same kind of scrutiny Holmes brings to mysteries, clues, witnesses and suspects. I dig the relationship between Watson and Holmes both because its represented as simultaneously intimate and utterly professional: a careful balance to strike and one which I admire in a narrative ostensibly about other matters.

Oh, and clearly from the tenor of this post (or perhaps only clearly to me) I enjoy the diction of the stories. I’d support the return of the countenance and the aspect and the most serious and grave business. Perhaps not the damsel in total distress. The representation of women is my chief complaint with the stories. Hapless and helpless women abound. All too often they are also waif like. I don’t go in for the waifs. I suppose this criticism could extend to include the non-British (villains appear from South America and India) and the physically impaired (“cripples” and “hysterics” populate two of the three stories), but I was most bothered by the women, perhaps because they were always the victims. Not that I expect one of them to spring up and solve the mystery – I fully accept that Holmes and Watson are a (homo-social) male partnership, but I could do with a story where a big brutish man falls victim to a hysterical bout or comes to the two cold with fear.

That said, I’ll be downloading another set of of Holmes/Watson for my walks about. Check of the HPL for your own out-and-about-town Adventures.

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Filed under 100 Books of 2011, British literature, Fiction, Mystery

Alice in Wonderland: This is it?

    

I confess to be somewhat underwhelmed by Alice in Wonderland. With all the pop culture boo-ra-ha-ha I had thought it might be exciting and entertaining, alas. Maybe the problem is not with the book at all, but with all the pop culture reference, maybe I knew too much to let myself be captivated? Or maybe it was that the ending – poof! it was all a dream! – remains my least favourite way to end a story, ever. Ever. Such lack of commitment to a fantasy world, to the reality of the fantasy, blah. Bleh. Meh.

I did like the cheshire cat. I could have done without Alice and the Queen. Also the King. A far better story if narrated by the cat? Someone has written that alternate version, I’m sure, and if you know where I could read it, let me know.

It’s a sad moment to realize I might not like the book because I know the story too well from movies, television, and *being* in the world. A sad realization because the appeal of a book – in particular a book of fantasy? – is that it promises the realization of another, different (however allegorically or metaphorically similar) world in which to consider the problems and questions of the world in which we live; yet as I read this book I spent much of my imaginative time comparing what I read with what I had seen, scattered in images and references, across my life. A lesson to myself to always read before I watch? Or to accept that the canonical and commercial become something other than simply books or stories, and must be considered as more expansive enterprises. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I had – in delusion, perhaps – expected when reading this classic.

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Filed under Book I'll Forget I Read, British literature, Fiction, Young Adult Fiction