Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Watson Does Not Lie. And Keefauver Won't Either.

Tonight, after three days wait from its earliest potential arrival, the new book Watson Does Not Lie by Paul Thomas Miller arrived on my doorstep. Here, of course, is the place where I would give you an early review of my friend's book, and tell you how wonderful it is. Not because I call Paul a friend, not because he's on my Watsonian Weekly podcast, but because it's a really nicely done book. Nicely organized, well thought out, good and useful timelines. And only $14.99 American on Amazon.

Here's why I will tell you all of those good things about the book and then not review it: Because now I have to write about something else. What, you ask?

Sherlockian envy. Jealousy. The green-eyed monster that any Sherlockian with a soul and the slightest touch of ambition feels from time to time.

Remember Les Klinger's first annotated, The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library, and Les Klinger's second annotated, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Well, how many times in the late seventies and early eighties did I hear a Sherlockian who cut his or her teeth on Baring-Gould's Annotated think about how it should be updated and consider doing that very thing. How many Sherlockians made their own little annotations on note cards or in the margins of their books with that dream of furthering Baring-Gould? And then here comes Les, who actually does the thing . . . twice.

I don't know how many Sherlockians saw those come out and went, "THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME!!!" but I know they existed. Maybe it wasn't you, and maybe it was you, except you're a liar, but I know it wasn't just me. Of course, with Les Klinger's masterwork, as with Ron DeWaal's amazing bibliography years before, you also had to go, "Man, that was a lot of work, and I'm way too lazy to have gotten that done." Or maybe not, if you're not as lazy as me. Maybe you could have gotten that done had not fate intervened with [INSERT FATE INTERVENTION HERE].

Okay, so we can be a little envious of Klinger, DeWaal, Baring-Gould, even that notorious ol' Jack Tracy and his little encyclopedia. But each of those grand Sherlockian achievements had, part and parcel with them, a grand amount of work involved. Time spent, and lots of it.

Who has that kind of time? Not you and not me, I'm sure.

And today, Watson Does Not Lie rolls off the presses, out of the Amazon warehouse, through the mail and into my hot little hands. Paul Thomas Miller has published a Sherlockian chronology, the thing of that rarefied height of Sherlockian achievement accomplished by so very few. Thousands of folks have written a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, I'd wager. But Sherlockian chronologists who've published a chronology in one form or another? Less than twenty. Maybe less than seventeen, because you can't count the show-offs who just updated their first one a second time. And tonight, Paul goes on the bookshelf with Zeisler, Bell, Hall, and the rest. Of course, I'll be taking it down soon to compare it to my own notes, and therein lies the hardest hit of pure Sherlockian jealousy.

Unlike with Klinger, DeWaal, etc., I can't look at Paul Thomas Miller's book and go, "Who could possibly have the time to do such a thing!" Because I've had the time. I've done the worst of the work. And I have been intending to do that little bit of work left to publish a book of chronology . . . actually having that very thing on my to-do list . . . for eighteen freakin' years!


So that is what is coming out of me instead of a proper review of Paul's very lovely book. So many emotions, not just envy, but even those weird combo emotions like William Shatner song-acted on his first album. (Though not like "psychopathic subservience" as he designated his rendition of "Mr. Tambourine Man." That was kinda disturbing.) Guilty laziness. Spiteful self-shaming. Egotistical disappointment. and worst of all, I'm actually blogging a celebration of a friend's book publication in a way that's all about me! I'm a monster! (But, I kinda like Lady Gaga, so I can just be one of her little monsters.)

So, anyway, that was my night. How was yours?

(And congratulations, Paul, you really did accomplish a great thing, and I'm proud to know you. And it's probably too late to murder you now, which really would just ruin our little podcast, unless I started leaving clues for the listeners and daring them to solve the mystery of our missing feature-producer. Though I think there's already been a Sherlockian who taunted investigators regarding a murder, so, damn, I missed that boat, too.)

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