Saturday, November 5, 2016

About Sixty . . .settling in for the long haul.

I am now a quarter of the way through About Sixty:Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story Is the Best

At this point it's apparent that, like some WWE Battle Royale wrestling match, where contestant after contestant enters the ring one at a time as wrestlers are also being thrown out, this thing is going to go on for a while. 

Patterns are starting to emerge. The things that a champion of one story puts forth about their story become the same elements the champion of the next story puts forth about that story as well. You start to wonder if our favorite Sherlock Holmes story is just the one we're holding in our hands and reading right now. But every sport has those things about it that its fans enjoy most -- the double play or the grand slam home run are welcome sights in any baseball game.

But you also see people coming at Sherlock Holmes from so many angles. Monica Schmidt brings in childhood memories. John Sherwood goes scholarly. Tamar Zeffren focuses on the client. Derrick Belanger talks up some other stories before getting down to business on "Noble Bachelor." All of these things are excellent material for the reader who has not turned this book into a game of Mortal Kombat, as I'm doing this weekend, but, as often happens here in Sherlock Peoria, I've made it weird.

And if you're looking for a scrapper to come into the About Sixty arena, the first Australian story promoter to push his tale into battle is definitely a guy to watch. Christopher Sequeira on "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" starts off his argument by immediately setting down a premise that eliminates his strongest opposition: The tales that impact Holmes and Watson's lives. It's a great maneuver, and helps him clear the ring to present his case without the shadow of that pesky Sign of Four looming over him. I had great hopes for Christopher until his final point did what we've already seen happen in this tournament . . . giving the reader a fatal flaw in the story as the last point. Defended against, yes, but a story can't be recovering from a wound when another tale is about to enter the ring at any moment. Sorry, "Beryl Coronet."

Debbie Clark brings "Copper Beeches" in with all its strengths, and "Copper Beeches" is not a story with much weakness at all. It's a fine closer to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Debbie reminds us of this. But then we start The Memoirs, and, holy shit, it's Elinor Gray with "Silver Blaze."

If you're staging About Sixty as a combat arena, having a story's promoter walk in and announce that "the Murder Pony" is about to enter just sets the arena ablaze. 

And it's fockin' "Silver Blaze." Elinor just kind of strolls out and goes, "Hey, it's Silver Blaze, remember?" And I go, "HELL, YEAH, I REMEMBER!"

"Silver Blaze." Wow. Sorry, The Sign of Four, I think you may have just been in the ring too long at this point, got too tired, and a short story finally took you out. But a great short story. A real champion.

Now, the Battle Royale is seriously on. I can't wait to see who's going to knock out the Murder Pony.

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