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Monday, September 9, 2013
Sherlock Holmes: Lion in Winter
It's little or no exaggeration to say that the entire Sherlockian world is abuzz with news that Sir Ian McKellen will play an aged Sherlock Holmes in a film adaptation of Mitch Cullen's A Slight Trick of the Mind.
Cullen's novel, set in 1947, flew under the radar of many Sherlockians when it was published in 2005. It's my impression that I'm not alone in never having heard of it. But the basic premise of Holmes being in late retirement on the Sussex Downs and perhaps beginning to lose it reminds me of another book.
Whenever I'm asked my favorite Holmes story not by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, my surprising choice is Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon's The Final Solution. Originally published in The Paris Review in 2003, it won the 2004 Aga Kahn prize for fiction. To me this little book (131 pages) is a gem. It's about a nine-year-old boy, German and mute, and an 89-year-year-old beekeeper referred to only as "the old man."
The boy is a refugee from Nazi Germany. He doesn't talk, but his bird does. The story begins:
"A boy with a parrot on his shoulder was walking along the railroad tracks. His gait was dreamy and he swung a daisy as he went."
As so it goes -- poetry in every paragraph as the once-famous old man tries to figure out the meaning of the string of numbers the parrot keeps reciting in German.
It's a book well worth reading, and re-reading.
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM