So what you are telling me is that you wrote me an observation a few weeks back. That I never responded to your observation at the time. And that I then trounce out the same observation as my own in my last letter to you. (Ref: Afghanistan, Holmes).
Well: all I can tell you is this – consider yourself elevated to the rank of Great Writer! You share among with many of the literary giants the honor of having planted a life transforming idea in my mind that I then completely forget. In fact: I make it a point not to remember good reads – that way I can go back over them as much as it pleases me with ever fresh impressions.
Case in point, besides your letter:
A few years back, having read Disgrace by Coetzee, I was asked by a friend whether I’d recommend it or not. I did – not only recommended she read it, but seeing as she was an avid dog-breeder, I gave her the volume since I was sure it was “one of the most touching stories about dogs I had ever read. Beautiful scenery, and fantastic portraits of the relationship between man and beast”.
She came back and asked me if I was off my rocker. Her personal appraisal of terrible rape-scenes and general moral decay was that it was not the most flattering of pictures of the dog industry.
Me, I had no recollection of any of the horrid bits, and since Disgrace is made up of exclusively horrid bits, it seems I had constructed an entirely different story in my mind. Full of tropical helmets and velvet eyed spaniels, it seems.
Or to abbreviate the start of this letter: oops.
As for promising some sort of criticism of Holmes after the weekend, ditto oops. You see, I am finding old Sherlock quite unbearably dull and have given him up in favour of another man: Richard the third. As portrayed by Josephine Tey in The Daughter of Time. This is one book I don’t want to spoil for you if you haven’t read it yet (but it did come out back in 51 so I am rather supposing you have) so I won’t mention anything about the glorious plot. What I will do however, is wax lyrical about the TYPE of reading it forces me to do: wikipedia in hand.
You see, The Daughter of Time assumes knowledge in the reader of our history, namely, the history of Richard III, his times, and his father’s times. Now I for one am more than a little bit rusty on this subject. Normally, not knowing anything about a subject might be a bit of a hindrance when it comes to getting on with your reading. But this is written in such a captivating manner as to make me greedy for more information. So far I have googled approximately 15 historical personages – and this is only half way through what is really rather a slim volume.
My knowledge is growing exponentially. It makes me feel as though I am accomplishing something. I finally understand the charms of non-fiction writing – and it is a very light-hearted piece of detective fiction that is showing those charms to me.
I very much look forward to having to do it all over again next week…
But however, I shall not discard Holmes completely. I fact, now that I know I can look forward to writing one of those really killing reviews that are always the most fun to read, I find myself suddenly motivated to finish it off. Perhaps that is how we should approach Parade’s End also: with a view to being able to analyze how come it’s so unreadable.
Or was that another one of your ideas just stolen?
My very best love and blushing cheeks,