Sunday, 24 July 2011
This week I watched the BBC's fabulous Sherlock. The TV adaptation sent me straight back to A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story, a novella, and to my Sherlock Holmes Complete Short Stories, an edition of all 56 stories first printed in Strand magazine. Would the originals feel as pacey, witty and engaging as the version I'd just watched by talented writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss?
I am not, I confess, a huge fan of the short story form, but all of these more than hold their own because 1) Sherlock is such a fantastic character, and 2) they have clear and engaging plots.
My problem with short stories? When you start reading a work of fiction, you take a leap of faith into an unknown world. The 'getting-to-know-you, am-I-going-to-like-you-stage' is so fragile and tentative, so much like a first date - the stakes are so high, I suppose - that it's my least favourite part of reading. With a good thick novel, I leap in, and once I'm committed, the pay-off is being immersed in another world for a week or two. A long term love affair. With a short story, I leap in, I commit, and it's all over in five minutes. Then I have to start again with another one. It's a series of one night stands. Same effort in, less result.
Yes, the reason I'm not all that keen on the short story form boils down to laziness. But the Sherlock Holmes stories get round the problem by taking me back to the same world each time.
Last night I went to see Bridesmaids. Whatever anyone says, it's just another rom com. It's also the reason why my discussion of the short story above has descended into a sexual metaphor.
Going to a film turned into a late night: I'm tired today. Kids and husband are off at grandma's, so for the rest of this afternoon here's my plan: go to bed with Sherlock Holmes. My guilty pleasure.