Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

Reading now. Review to follow.

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lycett

 In a book titled The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes, the assumption that I made, stupidly I guess, is that a great deal of the text would center on Doyle’s relationship to his iconic creation, and perhaps shed new light on the influences and inspiration that introduced the world to its first consulting detective. As an avid reader of the Sherlockian Canon, and one who attempts to play the game in his spare time (ha ha), I always welcome insight into the world of Sherlock Holmes. I like Doyle, and think he’s a most under-appreciated popular writer, but Holmes is the cat’s meow. Holmes is the reason we remember Doyle. Without Holmes, Doyle is Grant Allen. Who’s Grant Allen? Right.

I read this book over the course of a few weeks, and deflated little by little as I read again and again of Doyle’s family troubles, his cricket prowess, his weird relationship with Jean Leckie, his growing fascination with things of a spiritual nature, and so on. I didn’t learn much, if anything new about the great detective. I kept waiting for something juicy and new, waited patiently for Mr. Lycett to lay it down real smooth and slap me in the brain with some piece of Sherlockian minutiae of which I was unaware. And then I finished the book. 

Here’s the rub…maybe there’s just nothing new to learn about Doyle and his Holmes. Maybe it’s just a simple twist of fate that Doyle’s greatest creation wasn’t born out of sweat and toil and maddening creative furor. Holmes seems to have come quite easily and fully-formed to the old Scotchman, a simple literary jackpot reminiscent in our own time to a certain other mega-author and her lightning-scarred fledgling wizard. Yet here’s the difference between Doyle and ole Joanne Rowling: the latter seems to quite enjoy her literary meal ticket. Doyle, for crying out loud, killed Holmes and tried desperately to avoid the old boy for the remainder of his life, at least until his failing political career and shoddy business enterprises forced him to relate another adventure or memoir emanating from 221B.

For those interested in Doyle’s life outside Holmes, and his family dynamics, Lycett’s The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes is a compelling and dense read. Mr. Lycett’s gift for research cannot be denied. He’s probably one hell of a genealogist. For anyone interested in reading about how Doyle actually created Sherlock Holmes, you can skip it.

Published in: on April 6, 2008 at 8:15 am  Leave a Comment