It’s classics week at the Editor’s home

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1890. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For the next little while, I’m keeping a promise I made to some other bloggers during the #bookbloggers tweetchat. (You can find it at 2 p.m. EST Tuesdays using the handle @BookBloggersChat.) Please join me when you get time — I appear to be the only Yank so far!

We’ve discussed different types of books and made recommendations to each other, so I promised to read some Enid Blyton (classic British children’s author) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. For good measure, I threw in some Dashiell Hammett (the author of The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man and The Glass Key).

The Enid Blytons were good. I’m following the adventures of The Adventurous Four: Tom, Pippa, Zoe and Andy. They struck me as a cross between The Boxcar Children and the Scooby-Doo gang (without the dog). A lot of stuff happens to these kids, even accidentally, but they’re capable and resourceful children with long-suffering but patient parents.

I read The Maltese Falcon, but I couldn’t really get into the characters all that much. (*ducks to avoid loyal Sam Spade/Humphrey Bogart fans*) Maybe it’s because I’m all too aware of the movie clichés involved with this type of novel: loyal secretary, hard-bitten detective with a convenient bottle of alcohol stashed in a desk drawer, dangerous femme fatale and dastardly villains with cheesy lines.

Perhaps I would have liked The Maltese Falcon better if there had been a giraffe running around. (Hey, it worked for Janet Evanovich in Takedown Twenty.)

How’s that for a visual? Sam Spade in hot pursuit of a giraffe…boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

I haven’t seen the Humphrey Bogart movie, but one of these days…maybe I’ll like the movie better than the book. I have hopes for The Thin Man and The Glass Key.

I look forward to reading Sherlock Holmes when I get a chance. I’m liking the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock, so I’m interested to see how the book version compares to the actor’s portrayal of the character. We’ll see.




Filed under Writing

18 responses to “It’s classics week at the Editor’s home

  1. PBS recently hosted a special on the screen plays behind the new Sherlock series. Amazingly, the script writers do follow the books. One of these writers also plays Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother. Watch the older version of the dramas and you will see many similarities. However, the 2nd season does take some liberties with the story. And the second season was not nearly as good as the first..opinion of me and my granddaughter Amelia who is also a fan. We have both read the books, and do like the actor playing Mrs Watson, however.

  2. Doyle had quite an interesting life. As a doctor, he started out writing fiction waiting for patients to appear. Met and became friends with Houdini. (seems about right? A writer creates illusions with words?) He was also big supporter of the spiritualism movement (which Houdini thought was all a bunch of fakes).
    Blyton’s stories sound like they have a touch of humor and fun. Haven’t read those.
    Hammett? Haven’t read him, but have seen the movies. A whole difference era of Hollywood.

  3. The movie is MUCH better than the book. Especially the end of the movie. The final line was Bogie’s idea and it works.

  4. I’ve ducked reading the book and seeing the movie. There have been so many parodies that now I can’t bring myself to see the original. Check out Peter Falk in Neil Simon’s Murder by Death, for one parody. His character is Sam Diamond… 🙂

    Enid Blyton as a classic? Hmmm. I’d almost forgotten the Adventurous Four. I remember Andy (or was it Tom) tricking the UBoat folks with a gramaphone in the first of the books. The Five Find Outers (and dog) were better. Blyton has not aged well, I’m afraid. Despite that I just picked up The Secret of Moon Castle last weekend! Hadn’t read it in yonks.

    I loved Sherlock Holmes when I was a teenager, devoured them all, all 4 novels and the 54 shorts in one summer. Haven’t liked any of the movies / series yet, but I ‘d rather go for words than movies any day.

    • Ah, Murder by Death. Interesting movie.

      Tricking the U-boat people with a gramophone? Oh, I’ve GOT to read that one.

      You bring up an interesting point about some authors not aging well. Interesting how our literary tastes change as we grow, isn’t it?

  5. oh and a giraffe running around (in neon striped pyjamas?) would help movies like the Transformers immensely, don’t you think? Kind of distract you from the lack of plot.

    • Amen. I love CGI and other special effects in movies, but there has to be an equal balance between special effects and plot. It seems like Hollywood sometimes allows special effects to dominate a movie, when it’s the basic story that should be emphasized first.

      Wonder if you could make giraffe-sized, neon-striped pajamas? I know a guy…..

  6. The real Sherlock Holmes is best captured by Jeremy Brett of the old PBS series. *Gasp* haven’t seen Bogey in Maltese Falcon?

  7. Oh I adore Enid Blyton. It was because of her that I started reading bigger, more advanced books as a child. She has such a wonderful imagination (and so many series!).

  8. As a child I spent considerable time, away from home, either at my Grandfather’s place in Dublin or in our abandoned home on Red Island (Newfoundland). On the days when the rain would be falling and, believe me, both Newfoundland and Dublin do that very well, I would read and read.
    Enid Blyton was one of the authors I recall very well.
    Oh, and by the way, don’t just see the Maltese Falcon, but go see every Bogie movie there is, and while you’re at it, make sure you take in all of Lauren Bacall’s too 🙂


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