Saturday, March 12, 2022

Holmes, Doyle & Friends 2022 -- Stop Buying Things!

 Coming back from lunch at Holmes, Doyle & Friends, there's plenty of time to wander the vendor tables. And so far, I had kept a careful hold on my wallet, with just a few choice purchases. But as with eating kettle-cooked barbecue potato chips is for me, once I really open up to shopping . . . well, I am open to some shopping. Five paperbacks, two hardbacks, two scion pins, two crafted pins, an exhibit program, a switchplate, a bag of cookies, a loaf of soda bread, and a jar of spiced jam later, I'm gluing myself to my chair, fingers held firmly on the laptop keys, and holding on to the remains of my wallet cash for dear life.

The Dayton conference has always had a nice variety of offerings when it comes to dealer's tables, as I listed in an earlier post, and there were deals to be had. Mike McSwiggin sold my my last impulse buy and asked if I was interested in Solar Pons, as he's the next speaker on that very subject. I replied that I was, back in the 1980s, and was depending upon his talk to rekindle my interest -- no pressure on a speaker there.

Side note: I told my table-mates at lunch that I wouldn't report on discussions of the sex lives of our grandparents, so I won't.

McSwiggin is up to general applause and a few boos(?). It looked like Rob Nunn was the prime instigator the jeers, though, and he's a trouble-maker, if you haven't met him yet. Mike takes us to Sauk City, Wisconsin in 1927, just a little north of Madison, and a kid named August Derleth. The word "syllabically" is pronounced correctly. And off we go with Solar Pons, the Sherlock Holmes of post World War One.

A goodly share of the audience is not familiar with Solar Pons, and I envy them a little bit getting to discover this latter day homage to Holmes (whom Pons would occasionally visit at Sussex Downs). The Dragnet, a February 1929 pulp magazine, was the Beeton's Christmas Annual of Solar Pons paid August Derleth $40 for that first one. Mike continues on from there, how the stock market crash affected future Pons, the way The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes brought Pons back into Derleth's focus, and the Mycroft and Moran imprint of Derleth's Arkham House publishing. Solar Pons has been through a lot.

Mike brings up a Basil Copper chronology crime that actually had me opening a second document to take notes for the Sherlockian Chronology Guild newsletter. His presentation is quite complete and a great introduction to those new to Pons. (And he raffles off a couple of Pons books at the end, which is a great thing to do.)

Ira Matetsky comes next on "Rex Stout and Sherlock Holmes," telling us right off that he's going to speak on Stout's relationship with Holmes, rather than Nero Wolfe.

Right off Ira hits on that theory that Nero Wolfe was the son of Sherlock Holmes, spread by Sherlockians, but never confirmed by Stout. As he moves through the influences Holmes had on Stout's creation of Nero Wolfe, he makes a chronology joke I'll be quoting in the next Sherlockian chronology newsletter.

Wandering through the life of Stout, his ups and downs, Ira eventually comes to the notorious "Watson Was A Woman" incident at the Baker Street Irregulars. British Holmesian S.C. Roberts criticism that Stout's work was the sort that was "ruining the game" is new to me.  Stout attended and spoke at many other BSI dinners over the years, including one where he renounced his earlier premise -- he truly sounds like he treated Sherlockiana with the irreverent tone where it works best.

One last note Ira makes is to compare Conan Doyle's "To An Undiscerning Critic" and Rex Stout's later poetic letter in defense of his mystery fiction, the latter of which is new to most of us.

Q&A follows, among the Qs "best portrayer of Nero Wolfe?" According to Ira, the "Wolf Pack" likes the A&E show. The new Goldsborough's quality comes up as a controversial question.

And on to our next break! NO MORE BUYING THINGS! [slapping own hand]

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