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Showing posts from April, 2016

How much Sherlock is too much Sherlock?

Remember when Arthur Conan Doyle tried to murder Sherlock Holmes because he was so sick of him? I get that.

Sherlock Holmes is a compelling character because he's a superhero, but he's got about as much personal depth as the Trix Rabbit. Why don't we just call him Perception Man, make a comic, and call it a day. "Alice, you sound kind of grumpy about this." Yes, because we won't stop carrying him through the decades in various incarnations. 


The latest -- unless something new has been written in the last couple months, which I wouldn't be surprised by -- is A Study in Charlotte, where the descendants of Holmes and Watson are at a boarding school in America and have to solve mysteries.



I mean. It's fine. It's a fine book. I left it alone for a week and didn't feel any kind of impulse to pick it up except that it was due back at the library. Tbh I haven't even finished it yet, but my lackluster enthusiasm makes me feel ready to comment on it.…

Michelle McNamara was someone you would probably have a great conversation with

Michelle McNamara died, and I can't get over it.



Michelle McNamara was not only Patton Oswalt's wife and the mother of their 7-year-old daughter, but a fascinating true crime writer and researcher. I found out about her through episodes of the podcast The Dork Forest, which she guested on four times, each time talking about her love of true crime research and what progress she'd been making on her book about the prolific but little-known serial killer The Golden State Killer.

She was funny, she was engaging, she was clearly ridiculously smart, and I liked her so much. Her talk about not liking anything comic con-related and therefore hating to go to those with Patton Oswalt gave me hope that in relationships, you can love a person and not have to love, or even pretend to like, one of the interests that gets them out of bed in the morning (for those unaware, Patton Oswalt is a SuperNerd).

I strongly urge you to listen to her Dork Forest eps (unless true crime squicks you o…

Julian Fellowes's Belgravia: The Beginning

You might be familiar with writer Julian Fellowes and his endless series about the British upper crust and their servants. He's written Gosford Park, The Young Victoria, and of course Downton Abbey, among a ridiculous number of others. If you like him, you like him, because his tone doesn't vary much. I happen to like him very much, despite never having seen more than one season of Downton Abbey and being a bit suspicious of his fetishizing of the aristocracy. His stories are just so fun and dramatic and romantic and angsty. And now he is releasing a serialized novel, like the Victorian tales of yore. How very on brand for him! Belgravia is set in 1840s London, but begins at a ball in Brussels in 1815, right before the Battle of Waterloo.

Chapter 1 is available for free, then the subsequent 10 are $1.99 each. I pre-ordered chapter 1 to download to my Kindle app because, to be honest, I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS IDEA. I don't make the time and I don't have the patience t…

The Wander Society by Keri Smith: How to Wander in a Busy Life

It's hard to disconnect. It's hard not to be going somewhere with a purpose. But Keri Smith's The Wander Society encourages you to do just those things. It is a guide to wandering, to not filling your mind with anything but the impressions of your surroundings and the most unfocused of your thoughts. 



I'm not going to say we live in an age unlike any other in this respect, because if we were 16th century merchants and you told us to take some time off from scurrying to and fro from spice house to textile shop, we'd wheel about on you angrily and tell you to make off with yourself. [Exit, pursued by a bear]

We are like all humans have been for all of time. We focus on things in the future. We focus on things in the past. We run from task to task, and we don't let ourselves wander. 

Penguin asked if I wanted to review The Wander Society and I said yes, definitely, for a number of reasons.

1. I like things that are ostensibly going to tell me how to do something.

2. My…

Madeleine Smith: The Scottish Murderess

I was browsing the internet a while back, reading about serial killers, as y'do, when I came across the Scottish "Bible John." In his article was a little paragraph discussing other Scottish killers. Among them was Madeleine Smith, who possibly (almost definitely) poisoned her ex-fiancé with arsenic in 1857 after he threatened to expose the letters she had written to him. According to the article, the letters, "when read aloud, caused a scandal in the Victorian courtroom."

How do you not then look those up?

After quite a bit of questing, but with my end goal in sight (i.e. pervy letters), I found them on a Harvard archive, located here. There are 149 of them, and DISAPPOINTMENT, very little raciness. Damn you, Victorians, and your easily shocked sensibilities.


What I found from wading through almost all of the letters – for I will put up with much to read Victorians writing about sex – was that the sentiment was overly effusive and generally disgusting. I …