In the remarkable 2010 BBC/PBS television series Sherlock, fictional Dr. John Watson writes his first blog, A Study in Pink, based on the 1887 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel A Study in Scarlet. Benedict Cumberbatch, as a rather particular version of Holmes, has replaced the original dusty library with banks of laptops and a smartphone, and the thought-inducing meerschaum pipe with nicotine patches – a three-pipe problem has now become a three-patch problem. Have you ever wondered what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would think of all this? Brilliant, obsessed, and quite rude his detective has remained, but have these modern innovators stretched the original Sherlock Holmes too far? The Thursday evening Charleswood Library Mystery Book Club had jolly good fun discussing this and other aspects of the whole affair after reading the novel in The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and enjoying a delightful evening of movie-watching and popcorn.
Not to be outdone, the Saturday morning Charleswood Library Book club, which tends to steer away from mysteries, tried their hand with a Dinner and a Movie night out. After reading Paula Hawkins’ popular and engaging thriller The Girl on the Train, they had a rather enjoyable night out for a screening of Emily Blunt’s movie of the same name, and a dinner afterward.
The two book clubs at The Charleswood Library seem to be engaged in a healthy competition with one another. If one has an author visit, the other does likewise. If one goes out for dinner and a movie, the others will head out for a more civilized theatrical version of the book they’re reading, as they did with Simon Stephens’ MTC play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the novel by Mark Haddon.
At year’s end, the competition culminates in a worlds-colliding Holiday Pot Luck Dinner, where the mystery lovers, the fiction lovers, and the cross-overs all bring the most delicious, warm, and satisfying book discussion of the year. This wonderful event brings to mind the 1942 Nabokov poem A Literary Dinner, which will be read at next December’s meeting:
Come here, said my hostess, her face making room
for one of those pink introductory smiles
that link, like a valley of fruit trees in bloom,
the slopes of two names.
I want you, she murmured, to eat Dr. James.
I was hungry. The Doctor looked good. He had read
the great book of the week and had liked it, he said,
because it was powerful. So I was brought
a generous helping. His mauve-bosomed wife
kept showing me, very politely, I thought,
the tenderest bits with the point of her knife.
I ate–and in Egypt the sunsets were swell;
The Russians were doing remarkably well;
had I met a Prince Poprinsky, whom he had known
in Caparabella, or was it Mentone?
They had traveled extensively, he and his wife;
her hobby was People, his hobby was Life.
All was good and well cooked, but the tastiest part
was his nut-flavored, crisp cerebellum. The heart
resembled a shiny brown date,
and I stowed all the studs on the edge of my plate.*
*This poem can be found in Poems and Problems by Vladimir Nabokov, p. 152.