"I'm happy for the digression to Twain (via Cooper), especially because it loops me back to where I was going anyway."
Speaking of which...
A STUDY IN SCARLET: I have attempted to read all of Sherlock Holmes twice before, but never quite completed. I have this "thing" when, if I abandon a project in the middle, I'm supposed to pick up where I left off rather than starting over at the beginning... again. Problem is, it's been so long since I last attempted to read Sherlock Holmes, that I no longer recall where I left off, so it's back to the beginning for me.
Regarding A Study in Scarlet, I may never have finished it previously, because the early chapters are familiar but I didn't remember the end at all. Holmes sets out to solve a double homicide, and has the perp captured by the end of chapter seven. The next five chapters tell the murderer's backstory, then the murderer retells the first seven from his POV, then Holmes reveals how he solved the crime. I'll admit: I was on the edge of my seat for the backstory (although the story itself effectively foreshadows how that part is going to end).
I don't know if I'll read the rest of Holmes before I read anything else (probably not), but my plan is to throw a Sherlock Holmes story into the mix every so often.
THE SIGN OF THE FOUR: The second Sherlock Holmes novel. I didn't like it as well as the first, but that's purely subjective. This is the one which introduces the cocaine and morphine (but still no deerstalker cap and inverness coat). Watson's war wound has mysteriously migrated from his left leg to his arm. As with A Study in Scarlet, after Holmes has solved the crime, Doyle fills in the backstory in a tale all its own. This is a natural breakpoint as Watson breaks up their partnership in the end to get married.
American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason - I'm almost half-way through this book now. So, far I would call it good, not great. Sometimes I have to remind myself the author is Gleason's great-nephew, so that explains the, so far, constant high praise. What I really enjoy though, is all of the history I didn't know. This isn't a just another retread that we've all seen before.
Apart from all of this, I just finished Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove, a collection of short fiction that we would call fantasy but gets called something else because it's literary. She's a brilliant wordsmith and her best stories are extraordinary. A few of them are too much like effect rather than actual stories, but there's no denying the power of her words and her ability to create worlds.
"The Masque of the Red Death": I don't remember what it was, specifically, that inspired me to reread this Poe short story a couple of days ago, but I've been meaning to ever since COVID hit. I've read it before, once, when I was in junior high, didn't get much out of it, and didn't return to it until now. I can see why I didn't retain much of it as a boy: it's pretty dense. Also, even today, I can't really tell you the point of the story. (I studied Poe in college, but not this story.) The thing about Poe is, he often uses untranslated phrases in foreign languages (Latin, French, etc.), and sometimes those phases reveal the theme of the story. Although that is not the case here, I have owned many collections of Poe over the years, most of them incomplete and unannotated. I did have a pretty nice (but incomplete) annotated version at one time, but I culled it when I acquired the complete (but unannotated) collection I use today.
The internet is a little help, but most of the previous questions Google supplies answers to are obviously high schoolers cheating on exams. (The clue is when someone types in a question then add "Give examples.") Still, it's an interesting COVID-era read. And it's only five pages long (I remembered it as being longer).
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