A collection of pre-93 curmudgeons gathered Last Thursday in the Strangers Room at the Cedar Crest Chapter of the Diogenes Club. A plethora of hors d’oeuvres, including biscuits, royal jelly, and tea was consumed, and had its expected effect. A discussion broke out on A Slight Trick of the Mind - the book by Mitch Cullin and the movie by Ian McKellen. The movie won. Mycroft was not present, but others spoke up re the book:
Bob Simon: I liked it – maybe a B in lieu of my usual A-. I didn’t like it quite as well as others we have read. A problem for me was the multi-content approach: first on this plot, then that plot. The author is a good writer, and in some parts I was engaged, other parts not engaged. B
Dick Arms: I enjoyed this book – looking back, I was bothered with the three stories going back and forth. From the standpoint of writing, his descriptive words are good, not so much the plot, which did not appear to be going somewhere. B
Bob Woods: I give it a B. I was underwhelmed. I grew up as a Sherlock Holmes fan, and this put me off. I didn’t like it. Laurie King has done very well with a Sherlock Holmes series, and comes off like Conan Doyle. This book suffered by comparison.
Keith: I found it discursive. That’s an Ivy League term for rambling. The three stories in a tapestry were not woven well. Great gaps. I submit anyone here could provide a better description of senility and make it more compelling. B-
Charlie: B. I don’t have much to add. It didn’t catch my fancy. Too long – but the movie was wonderful! Ian McKellen does a great job. Interestingly, I also have read The Martian and have seen the movie, and there also the movie is better.
Tom G: [in recommending movies, I suggest Sicario – on the Mexican drug trade.] The book is about a senile old man – what is not to love? I read it yesterday, so the interweaving of the plots didn’t bother me. I didn’t care for the Japanese story – but he interwove them at the end. Good writer, good description. B-
Ron Bousek: The interweaving of the plot lines is easier to do in a movie, harder in a book. B for just some of the reasons as stated. Not engaging, but some good parts. B
Mike: When an author chooses his characters from another work of fiction, he is twice judged. Cullin should be exposed for pushing what appears to be his personal agenda: Japan, the bad Americans dropping the bomb on same, and gay boys. From the myriad letters Holmes receives every week, why would he accept an invitation from an unknown Japanese man and travel halfway around the world in 1947 at age 93, with no business class flights? Just to visit a prickly ash? Give me a break! And then Umezaki’s brother is not really his brother but … oh, my! But the saddest part for me was Keller’s claiming his wife was playing the armonica because he could hear the music – reminded me of the Tony Hillerman “mystery” where we were told the man must have drowned since they found his hat floating in the river – oh, brother! I almost choked on my Jamaican! C
Kenny G: I actually thought some of the writing was excellent, but it got tedious. Of the three stories, I liked the story of the kid, where Holmes used some of his detective skills to deduce how he died. I didn’t like the story of the woman, Mrs. Keller. Overall: B
Jack Ferrell: I would agree with Tom. I did enjoy it, but disliked the Japanese story the most. The only Sherlock Holmes story I have read before was Hound of the Baskervilles, which Ben Smith hosted, so my feelings were not pre-conceived. I felt it had a tone of optimism. B+
Rob Easterling: I had a halo effect: I read one-half, then saw the movie, then read the other half. I liked his insights, thoughts, and behavior. I liked the way the three stories interwove. I haven’t read a lot of Sherlock Holmes, but I felt this character captured the essence. I liked the way he wrapped up Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Good read with insight. A
And from well outside of Sussex:
I will not be in attendance at the next meeting of the book club--my wife and I will be in Hawaii.
I have read Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind. This is the second book not written Arthur Conan Doyle that I have read where Holmes is a character in the novel. There is an excellent series of 12 novels by Laurie R. King where a middle aged Holmes meets and marries a young American woman--he then trains her to be a detective--I have read 2 or 3 of them and enjoyed them very much.
I thought the story in Cullin's book was extremely interesting--Holmes as a 93-year-old man who is losing many of his mental facilities (as are many of us)--he goes on an interesting trip to Japan and talks about his relationship with a young boy named Roger who shares his love for bees. There is also an interesting story written by Holmes about his infatuation for a woman many years before. The book is well written--I especially enjoyed the descriptions of nature.
I wish I were going to be at the discussion--it should be a good one.
Grade: A-- Dick "The Big Kahuna" Jensen