June 13th, 2014

granada holmes

Sherlock Holmes (ACD) rec: Written in the BLood, by

As part of the acd_holmesfest exchange, I ended up writing a pinch-hit piece for someone who'd requested a story involving magical realism. This wasn't something I'd ever encountered beyond a basic awareness that it was a thing in some kinds of literature that some people found quite interesting, so I had to do a bit of research into what it was. To be clear, by research I mean I read the Wikipedia article and a few other websites. It gave me enough of the bare rudiments to put a story together that was well-accepted, but it was really just the most passing of introductions. Still, it was enough of a taste that I wanted to read more.

methylviolet10b's story "Written in the Blood" is like creme broulee to my graham crackers. It's magical realism elevated to an artform, and magical realism with real limitations worked into it; this is fantasy at its best, I think, where the magic and fantastical elements are tools that make a story possible that we couldn't tell any other way, but at the same time don't provide a deus ex machina. And there's gore (Holmes is shot quite badly, and Watson must heal him), and friendship, and character building, and just... I'm not quite sure how to do it justice, honestly. It seems to be a fine example of the magical realism genre, based on what I've been able to learn about it, but more than that it's just a really well-told story about Holmes and Watson finding their footing around each other, and also what a soldier's war-wounds and psychological trauma might cost him in that department. If you' all drawn to the genre, I heartily recommend it.

granada holmes

signal boost: 60 for 60 to begin reading A Study in Scarlet

.... and after that the rest of the Sherlock Holmes canon. If you've wanted to read or reread Doyle's stories, this is a great way to get started. Of course you can join in anytime (I did), but it makes sense to start at the beginning if you can.

If you're unfamiliar, sherlock60 is one part book club, one part fanfic community. They take one short story (or in the case of longer works, one section of the novel) at a time. There's one week to read the story and then they post some discussion questions and people are encouraged to discuss it. Along side that, members of the community often write either a sixty-word ficlet (sixty words for the sixty stories in the Doyle canon) or a clerihew about the story being posted, and share it with the group.

You can of course just do the reading and discussion or the fic, or both, or (as I'm sadly just too obvious of proof) neither. It's really very low-key, low on drama in my experience with some really mature, insightful discussions of the canon stories and some creative Doyle-based ficlets.

By the way, all sixty stories are available free online. I'm a fan of the wiki-source versions (which the Sherlock60 gang links to), so if you don't mind reading off a website (and the formatting's really quite decent there), that option may work for you. Amazon also has a number of "complete works" books that are ridiculously inexpensive on the Kindle if you prefer readng ebooks to websites (the version I personally use).

ETA: vaysh mentioned that a good number of the stories are also available as audio through Librivox, for those of you who prefer to get your classic liberature through your ears rather than your eyes. No excuses! :-)