What I’ve Been Reading – Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan, Arthur Dent, & Joseph Campbell

Remember, January was a lost month.  To be honest, February is getting away from me a bit too.  Is this what it’s like to grow up?  To find time constantly slipping away?  Jeepers!  I’m going to be forty before I know it.

A little update on the books I read in January:

Sherlock Holmes : I read the whole series!  In about seven months!  My love for Sherlock is worth another blog post, but I did have to mark this momentous occasion.  I will probably start reading them again in a few months.  It was such a relaxing way to end my day: murder, mayhem, mystery.

I had never read these last few cases of Holmes, but I love that Doyle started mixing it up near the end.  Most of the Holmes tales are narrated by Watson in the first person, meaning you see everything from his eyes.  It’s very effective, in that you completely identify with Watson and are kept in the dark most of the time.  But in the Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle narrates a few from the perspective of Holmes, which is fascinating both as a reader and a writer.  Also, a few are in third person, meaning we see the action unfold as it does, without insight into brains.  You get a much different picture of Watson in those cases.  I must admit, I enjoy the Holmes narration.  He has a different tone and style than Watson, which would be an interesting writing challenge after you (Doyle) have been writing with a certain voice for so long.

In conclusion: I adore Sherlock Holmes.

Peter Pan : Did you know Anthropologie has adorable books?  I can’t afford a thing in that store, except for clearance items, and I have gotten many cute books on clearance at Anthro.  Including my darling Peter Pan, with a blue cover imprinted with ships and ferns and moons and one fairy, right in the center.  I love this book.  I love how it looks and feels.  And it reads just like a book for a child.

This story that we know as Peter Pan was first published as Peter and Wendy.  There is another, lesser known Pan tale called Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a prequel of sorts.  In reading the original text, one thing becomes glaringly obvious: Disney glosses things beyond recognition.  The animated Peter in forest green tights is not the Peter of the text.  The Peter of the text is stubborn, fickle, egotistical, and wholly self-focused.  In other words, he’s a little boy.

All of the stories from the movie are in this book (except there is a lot more violence in the book).  I especially enjoyed how Barrie fleshed out the secondary characters: Mr. and Mrs. Darling are sweetly sad and hilarious, and Nanny is a hoot.  Even Captain Hook has some excellent character traits.  It is a book worth reading, if only to see how Peter really is.  It’s hard to like him, but even harder not to like him.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy : I have tried and tried.  The first time, I read three or four of the series, trying to see what the draw was.  I thought now I would understand.  I love British wit, I love sci fi, and the melding of the two together should be perfect.  Right?

I still didn’t like it!  I tried really hard, and it was amusing and Douglas Adams made some hilarious and fascinating and dry observations about culture and humankind.  But I still didn’t like it.  I don’t know what it was.  The rapid pacing?  The randomness?  How nothing made sense?  Usually, I’m okay with those things.  I love absurd…but with a purpose.  Maybe this didn’t have enough of a purpose for me?

Perhaps if I had listened to it read by a Brit.  But even after watching the movie (which, by all estimation, should have been the love of my life, since it contained the following people: Stephen Fry, Zooey Deschanel, Martin Freeman, Alan Rickman, Bill Bailey, Bill Nighy, and many other wonderful folks), I still wasn’t sold.  And I have no earthly idea why.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces : Okay, this one I cheated a little bit on.  I haven’t read every single word of it.  But I have studied it and studied it for over a year.  I have reread certain sections until my eyes wanted to fall out.  And I’m still not 100% sure what Campbell was trying to say.  Still, Campbell was a brilliant nutter, and the scope of his studies in mythology is truly impressively breathtaking.

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3 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading – Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan, Arthur Dent, & Joseph Campbell

  1. Peter Pan & Wendy has long been one of my favourite books of all time, and to know that so few have actually read it is a travesty. It both wistful and bittersweet; meloncholy and romantic. As for Joseph Campbell, I adore his thoughts. Some books I might recommend: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, A Little Book on the Human Shadow by Robert Bly, and Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung. I makes my heart sing to hear about people continuing to read and adore the work’s of such beautiful and singular minds.

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