Christopher Redmond seems on a roll with his sixty-essay collections, a concept which could be a nice annual event at this point. About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story Is The Best has been now followed by About Being A Sherlockian: 60 essays celebrating the Sherlock Holmes community, and word on the street is that another volume is in the works.
The first followed that familiar trail of working one's way through the sixty-part Canon of Sherlock Holmes, in order of publication. The latest, About Sixty, is a different sort of read: Sixty individual accounts of personal experiences with books, movies, television, and people all centering around Holmes. Instead of championing sixty different stories, it's almost like sixty people championing the same story, which is both the book's greatest strength and greatest weakness.
The strength is summed up by the final lines of Heather Holloway's essay, "The Adventure of the Weird Cousins," which reads "Yes! I would love to tell you my story! I would love to hear yours!" The enthusiastic connection that Sherlock Holmes brings us makes for some of the best times in a Sherlockian life, at a dinner, a con, a pub, walking down a city street . . . anywhere two Sherlockians can talk. (Yeah, forget that bottle thing. You need two Sherlockians.)
What I found in reading About Being A Sherlockian was that I was most delighted by those voices I could hear clearly in my head -- the writers I knew and had enjoyed their company. If you've been in the Sherlockian commnity for a good length of time and traveled to some of the larger gatherings, you've probably picked up a few personal stars in your Sherlockian firmament, and those in mine were celebrities, whether they consider themselves that or not, that I got quite a thrill reading about.
Other times, the tales from unfamiliar names began to blur together, probably because I started reading the book just too damn fast driving toward another name I was dying to get to. So many of our stories are not that different when you take them all in in one gluttonous gulp. They are so much better savored, one at a time, as happens when you actually get to spend time one-on-one with a fellow Sherlockian.
So having inhaled the book on first pass, I am now very much determined to place it on my nightstand and read one essay a night, to get a better feel for each individual Sherlockian's perspective. There is a lot to take in here. Sixty autobiographies, the Sherlockian part of sixty different lives captured in one single volume. Down the line it would be fun to see Chris doing a collection of sixty essays of people getting to write about their favorite Sherlockian, so we could get another view of Sherlockian lives from the outside to pair up with this inside view -- although actually there's a whole lot of that in here already. Get the book and see for yourself.
No one lives a great Sherlockian life without other Sherlockians being a part of it.
Afterword, because I have to.
That last line came out with a little bit of a sting as I finished it tonight. Today we learned that Meredith Granger of The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis had passed away suddenly, far too early. Meredith was a lively Sherlockian, and when he'd stop here for a meal on one of his many trips up to Iowa, Kathy and I always had a great time. We'll miss him greatly, and our hearts go out to all those in Indy, who we know will miss him so much more. Like I said, no one lives a great Sherlockian life without other Sherlockians being a part of it. And, boy, are some of them great people, like Meredith.
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