Refresh, Refresh by Benjamin Percy
I’ll be honest—I had never heard of Benjamin Percy until I was assigned this book to read for my Intro to Creative Writing class. I don’t read a lot of short stories, as I’ve mentioned, and the sort of traditionally masculine themes the back cover promised me Refresh, Refresh explored are usually of little interest to me. But I believe anything can be well-written, and, after realizing I had been assigned the whole collection, I powered through it on a Saturday afternoon. It left me feeling… unsettled.
Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Who and what about them did you love?
Would you like that list alphabetized or arranged in chronological order? I’m from fandom; this is something I do all the time. For the sake of time, I’ll just highlight a few of my beloved literary characters this morning.
John Watson, Mary Morstan, and Irene Adler from Sherlock Holmes. Not that I don’t love Holmes, but Watson is such a good, loyal, and capable gentleman. The same goes for Mary, his own beloved, whose neglected death in the books I am not looking forward to, and I just love Irene to pieces.
Daenaerys from A Song of Ice and Fire. If you have to ask, you probably haven’t met her.
Cal from Middlesex. He’s more of a person than a character to me, especially after listening to the audiobook.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
So… I had a lot of feelings about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. (I just weep about the latest season of Sherlock.) But it did inspire me to take The Return of Sherlock Holmes along with me to Ireland, so I could start on it when I had a chance. And so I did, but it took me into the first proper week of February to finish it, although that wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it. …You know, I often feel like the introductions to my reviews of the Holmes canon can’t really be anything but “so, yeah, I’m still reading this and I’m still loving it”, so let’s just dive in.
I promise not every Valentine’s post is going to be about straight couples from Tolkien, okay? It’s just that this couple in particular has captured my imagination recently. Anyway, my usual Valentine’s festivities are ready to go; this year’s inappropriate Valentine’s are Star Wars: The Phantom Menace-themed. (Alas, Darth Maul does not feature on any of them. He does feature on a box of chocolates, however!)
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
I only brought one piece of Irish literature with me to Ireland. (For shame, McBride, for shame.) The rest were either French (Alexandre Dumas) or Scottish (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, although he has some Irish roots, so that… counts? I don’t know). But I couldn’t resist bringing some Oscar Wilde while I visited Ireland, and a short story collection seemed just the thing to read between visits on the bus on my phone.
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories collections “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime”, “The Canterville Ghost”, “The Sphinx Without a Secret”, “The Model Millionaire”, and “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.”—the last not included in the original 1891 edition, but appearing nine years later in the 1900 edition.
On December 29th, after a semester learning about Irish film, literature, and history, I set off on a two and a half week tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I have a lot of issues with travel, so I was delighted to find that I actually enjoyed myself (besides the stomach cramps and Martian death flu, of course) and I spent a lot of time thinking, as well as rushing about from site to site with my tour group. Because we covered so much ground, my coverage of my trip will take up a few posts—three, most likely, but perhaps more if more comes back to me.
Songs of Love and Death edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
It’s no secret that I love and adore Jacqueline Carey. When I discovered there was a short story set in the Kushiel’s Legacy universe collected in Songs of Love and Death, it immediately went on my wishlist. Since I like to space out installments of doorstopper fantasy series by at least six months, I wasn’t planning on picking up Kushiel’s Chosen any time soon, so I more or less forgot about it until I got home for the winter holidays and discovered that my local library, in fact, owned a copy. So happy holidays to me!
(I ended up having plenty of feelings about Holmes’ feelings, it seems. Spoilers for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows abound below.)
Pairing off Holmes and Watson is nothing new—Rex Stout’s 1941 speech “Watson Was a Woman” is the first recorded instance of someone picking up on that subtext. The only thing keeping other characters from assuming the two are a couple is the time period; Sherlock, the BBC series that places the stories in the modern day, even has a scene where the two have to tentatively tell each other that they’re not interested. (Interestingly, Sherlock’s, well, Sherlock is, according to the production, explicitly queer, in that he is asexual.) Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, during the promotional tour for Sherlock Holmes, had plenty of fun playing up the homoeroticism. I even remember one fan posting about how she was frustrated they could play that up but a similar film with actual queer male leads would never fly. It was quite brilliant; I’m very sad I’ve lost the link. But when all was said and done in 2009, their situation remained the usual playground for fannish fantasies that the stories themselves did—well within the boundaries of normal friendship (if one friend is nuttier than a fruit cake with corresponding boundary issues) with a hint or two we could run wild with.
Today’s selections are really only related because they’re classics and briefly touch upon Shakespeare or Shakespearean England. That’s all I got; it’s the holidays, folks, I’m probably still asleep right now.
Firebirds Rising edited by Sharyn November
My attraction to these Firebird anthologies is a little odd to me. I ultimately find them to be just okay, but I still want to read all of them. Is the beautiful cover art courtesy of Cliff Nielsen? Is it the fact that November is putting a lot of effort into making Firebird an imprint with personality, rather than just another speculative fiction or teen imprint? Is it the fact that I feel bad I don’t read more short story collections? We may never know, although I will say that the fact it was Halloween got me to pick this up at the time I did.