BWW Reviews: In Book By You's THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, I Exceed Even My Own Lofty Expectations!
(The following is a review of a "personalized" reading experience offered by the publisher Book By You. It is not, strictly speaking, a review of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I'm sure anyone civilized enough to be reading this will already know how they feel about those!)
It's not my sort of thing, normally, inserting myself into the classics. But an emissary of the publisher asked rather nicely and, after giving it some thought, I concluded that, while I wasn't too interested in the many other options, well....Yes, I could be Sherlock Holmes.
Once I filled out the brief form where I substituted my own physical characteristics and those of a few trusted friends (i.e., friends I could count on to have a sense of humor about all this--and since I had to make this decision as myself, rather than as Sherlock, I can only keep my fingers crossed as to the wisdome of my choices), the book (I ordered paperback, but hardback and e-book versions are available) was delivered to my hands with all due haste.
I hardly had time to prepare myself.
Hence, it was all a bit disorienting at first--having my friend Dr. Daniel Watson describe the new me, Sherlock Ross, caught straight up in the throes of referring to the mysterious Kimberly Pike (which happens to be the real-life maiden name of Daniel Watson's wife--bit awkward that, but it all worked itself out eventually in my new, highly adaptable brain) as "the woman," Irene Adler.
As I said, one needs to be careful choosing who to take this ride with.
I passed through the perhaps unavoidable stages of mild trepidation and not-so-mild disorientation soon enough.
Once I accepted that my previously untapped qualities were, indeed, right in line with those of the world's greatest consulting detective, Sherlock Ross soon turned out to be an excellent gig.
And that was before the "singular adventures" even got rolling.
I'm not saying it was all perfection, mind you. I probably shouldn't have picked my friend Ernie for the part of Inspector Lestrade. To tell the truth, I had forgotten what a thorough-going bumbler Lestrade was bound to be (especially when compared to my newly excellent self, always there to remind him--Lestrade being, unlike my friend Ernie, a man who needs reminding--that "moonshine is brighter than fog." Therefore, one of my real life missions from now on will be to keep my friend Ernie from ever hearing about this little volume. He's no bumbler of any kind--quite useful really. I'd much prefer to remain on speaking terms. I mention this only as a warning for those who may wish to follow in my footsteps.
Beyond all that, and no matter the last name, it's simply not all tea and crumpets being Sherlock.
These stories are told, after all, from Watson's perspective. No clever publisher sticking to the original premise is going to get around that!
So, inevitably, I had to put up with his occasional perspicacity vis-a-vis my rather copious faults--supercilious, brusque, vain, impatient (nothing like my real self, I assure you, yet I found myself becoming rather sensitive to these little insights, to say nothing of the not-always-flattering occasions where Sherlock and I were actually quite eerily similar!).
Worse, there was one occasion when I had to hang in through several entire pages of nonsense having to do with him and his wife (not his real life Irene Adler, alas, but his rather too-good-to-be-true fictional spouse) being rousted out of bed by a distraught friend looking for a missing husband.
Very trying that.
Granted, this last bit, at least, was eventually ameliorated as it turned out to be a mere device for uncovering my august presence in an Opium Den where my life wouldn't have been worth a plugged nickel if the proprietor had, for so much as an instant, seen through my brilliant disguise!
For along with any niggling faults I acquired as Sherlock, I also found myself in possession of numerous qualities--habits, skills, knowledge--which my earth-bound self, forever pressed against reality's nagging grindstone, never had proper time to acquire.
Suddenly I had them all: a cocaine habit; fencing skill; full command of the violin and the French language (to think, as Sherlock, I could suddenly imagine reading Proust in the original, while, at the very same time, being cured--by virtue of my extreme, unique combination of straightforward and reverse snobbery--of the necessity of reading him at all!); the ability to alternately sit by well-tended fires with my head bowed low, smoking my Meerschaum pipe, or devote myself to detecting which particular kind of Indian cigar is rolled only in Rotterdam as the mood struck.
Of course, I can't speak for how others might respond to this, or other similarly stimulating experiences.
Personally, I took to Sherlock like a duck to water.
The chance to, for instance, shout "Incredible imbecility!" or "When I have spun the web, they may take the flies." and have it be directed at, say, Scotland Yard or the local constabulary, rather than anyone as insignificant as a college football announcer or Wolf Blitzer, was liberating to say the least!
Next to that, solving mysteries and bringing killers to justice with my now bottomless supply of theatrical panache was usually no more than a cherry on top, though I certainly did impress myself a time or two.
(My demonstrated brilliance in "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb" was especially gratifying. Just when I had begun to take myself for granted, too!)
Of course, there is an inevitable let-down with these things--rather like what I suspect actors feel when they come off stage and have to deal with the boundaries of drab reality again--but all-in-all I'm glad to have met my alter-ego, Sherlock Ross, and to have had him fill in a few gaps in my previously mundane existence.
If I find myself obliging an occasional yen to revisit my Sherlockian self, I'm sure my friends will understand.
(NOTE: If you're interested in taking this sort of journey, or encouraging an imaginitive acquaintance to do the same, you can visit the publisher at http://www.bookbyyou.com and peruse their classic, children's and contemporary options. It's only one man's experience, but, overall, the quality of the copy I received was up to professional standards and the website commendably easy to navigate, with or without Sherlock's assistance.)