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.
This will be my last post about my adventures in Ireland. Across from our hotel in Dublin was Chapters, a bookstore I had actually already heard about from those who had previously gone on the Ireland trip in glowing terms. While I didn’t have a chance to go during our first days in Dublin, I managed to hit it up—twice—during our final weekend in Dublin. And let me tell you, I could spend hours in there.
Have you every written any fanfiction? If yes, why and for which book(s)? If no, would you like to and for which books(s)?
For that matter, do you ever READ fanfiction?
Oh, of course! Not for books, unless the Little Women AU in my head counts. But I’m from fandom, and I’ve written plenty for movies, television shows, and video games. (No links—I try to keep my fannish life and real life neatly separated.)
I’m always looking for good Little Women fanfiction starring Jo and Laurie, but I’m always up for good Sherlock Holmes fic or a good The Chronicles of Narnia addressing the problem of Susan. (I don’t like how Gaiman did it.) Really, I’ll read anything as long as I’ve read the source and the fanfic has been recommended.
And yes, of course I read fanfiction. I keep ’em on my phone to read if I don’t feel like reading my digital book. And I’d like to point out that fanfiction is a much broader category than you might think. I refer you to Aja Romano’s brilliant post, “I’m done explaining why fanfiction is okay“, which points out how works based on other works have been around since the dawn of time (Paradise Lost counts!) and are perfectly capable of being fantastic enough to win the Pulitzer. In short—my favorite fanfic is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate it—but it’s also the last Sunday of the year, which means it’s time for my top ten list. As usual, these are my top reads of 2011, not the top published books of 2011. But I’ve also added my favorite film adaptation and my favorite audiobook of the year, since I’ve started really keeping those posts up. I was lucky enough to have a good handful of five star books, but that meant leaving off a lot of four and a half star books that I honestly loved off the list. I invite you to rifle through those categories to your right. And here’s 2010 in review and 2009 in review, if you’re so inclined. I think that’s all the housekeeping, so let’s get started.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
based on the Sherlock Holmes canon by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Despite my excitement over the first trailer, I kind of forgot this movie came out. It didn’t even register until Friday evening; I immediately tried to wrangle someone into going with me. I eventually went with my father (whose favorite joke concerning Jude Law is that he is in everything) last night. As I mentioned in my review, I absolutely adored the first film, and I was quite looking forward to more bromantic antics from Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes, who is hanging onto sanity and acceptable social behavior by the skin of his teeth, and Jude Law’s Watson, who has the patience of a saint.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sherlock Holmes canon has become comfort reading for me—insofar as reading material new to me can be. There’s just something wonderful about 1880s London, mysteries that place the focus on people rather than how shocking the crimes are (I have mentioned modern mystery and I don’t get on, yeah? Please feel free to prove me wrong), the hint of the Gothic that runs through it, and, of course, Holmes and Watson, best friends for life. I basically end every novel and collection sighing, “Oh, boys.” I just honestly enjoy spending time with these characters, which is a downright miracle for an episodic and open-ended series for me. Nice work, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, nice work.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I was recently stunned when I stumbled across someone, in the midst of apologizing for being a new Sherlock Holmes fan (and you thought Star Trek had a hostile generation gap…), saying that the original stories made for slow reading. In fact, I wondered if we were reading the same stories at all. As I’ve been plugging on and off through the Holmes canon recently, I’ve found the writing swift and efficient. (I also don’t get these claims when they’re aimed at my beloved Tolkien. He’s remarkably clear.) In fact, I’ve found them to be fun, in a way modern procedurals rarely are—and that definitely keeps me on track to polish off the entire canon.
You’ve just had a long, hard, exhausting day, and all you want to do is curl up with something light, fun, easy, fluffy, distracting, and entertaining.
What book do you pick up?
I have to be totally honest; I don’t look to books for on the spot fluffy entertainment. Not that I don’t read “light, fun, easy, fluffy, distracting, and entertaining” books—I do—but because reading a book takes a handful of days for me and I can’t tailor my selection to my mood. I tend to look to television or films to scratch that itch, because I know exactly how long it will take me to watch those.
However, in the interests of fairness, I would probably pick up a Sherlock Holmes collection to distract myself if I had to select a book.
I’ve talked about musical narratives outside of musical theater before in this very space, but I didn’t talk about the most common form of musical narratives in this day and age—film scores. Despite being tone-deaf, I adore film scores. In fact, the first musical artist I really listened to was Yann Tiersen, whom you probably know as the gentleman who scored Amelie and Goodbye Lenin!. I remain continually impressed by Hans Zimmer’s work and, of course, I love Alan Menken. (The Hunchback of Notre Dame score has been known to make me cry. Not the songs, just the score.) A film score is ultimately a remarkable piece of adaptation, transforming the film—a marriage of script and visuals—into music. It’s telling the story in another way, and the best film scores make it iconic. Who can think of “The Imperial March” without Darth Vader? And, for my tone-deaf self, there’s something so mysterious to me about the musical process that I don’t find in film or literature. To this end, I want to highlight two film scores (from films based on books!) that take two very different approaches to telling their stories.