Saturday, November 12, 2016

Popcorn Reviews: The Editions Edition

Little Lord Fauntleroy

So this was an interesting read. It wasn't particularly engaging, although that was because the plot revolved around a "perfect" protagonist who changed imperfect people for the better. Little Lord Fauntleroy reads like a novel length fairytale, or I at least saw a lot of parallels to fairytale traditions.

His father was the youngest son of a misery, old lord who had three sons. The older two were corrupt and wasteful. The youngest was the old lord's pride and joy expect gosh it! Why'd he have to marry some lowly American woman? The youngest son was disinherited and the youngest went to be with his perfect wife and had a perfect little boy. Fauntleroy is intelligent and funny and he takes himself rather seriously. It's basically a rags-to-riches story. The grandfather finds Fauntleroy, who's real name is Cedric, and brings him to London with much skepticism. I'd tell you more, but I'm sure you can speculate or at least read the book for yourself. XD

Naturally, it's beautifully written, although it's idealistic at times.

What I loved, loved though was the book itself. I'm a bit weird like that. My love for books doesn't stop at just the story, but I like the book itself. I found Little Lord Fauntleroy while wandering the MG section of the library. It was a very old edition from around the 1950s or 60s. I loved its worn pages. And the illustrations! Some excellent sketches, maybe in pen? I don't know. I'm not very good at determining the medium of art.

Anyhow, Little Lord Fauntleroy was a good experience. Not a fast-paced, adventure read, but a sweet story told in the fairytale tradition.

A Farewell to Arms

So because I'm a nerd, I'm going to tell you why I picked this book up in the first place. 

1) I need to read more classics. Why *need*? I don't know. I can argue away every argument that comes to mind. Expect that I should at least have more variety in my book diet. 

2) Emily told me too. Okay, that may be an overstatement. I can't remember if Emily told me to or if she raved about it and then strongly suggested it. My mind palace is a cluttered place, so 'scuse me if the memory needs dusting. 

3) My favorite English professor from my former college loved Hemingway. So we studied 'Hills Like White Elephants.' He talked a lot about Hemingway and in his office, he had two whole bookshelves full of Hemingway books. This professor, uh, died a couple years ago. It was sad [obviously]. So I kinda picked this book up in a sort of to-remember-him kind of way, although I clearly had not forgotten him. So what kind of sense does this make? It doesn't make sense. It's sentiment.


Unfortunately, I didn't like A Farewell to Arms. I really, really wanted to like it. But it just wasn't for me. I thought it was going to be a war story with a side of romance. Ha! It was a romance story with a side of war. Eh, I don't really do romance stories, so it's amazing I actually finished the book. 

The dialogue confused me at times. Hemingway often leaves off dialogue tags which is not necessarily a bad thing. But he also likes to put two speakers in the same paragraph together, or begin new paragraph even though the speaker had not changed. So sometimes it was difficult to understand who said what. It was tedious with talk about the weather and such too. But I think Hemingway was trying to bring a sense of realism into the conversation? Maybe? People do actually talk like that [but why do we?].

I can't say I disliked all of the dialogue. I did enjoy some of the conversations. Like the one about the brave and the cowardly and how the world breaks us all.

“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one'.... (The man who first said that) was probably a coward.... He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them.”  ― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms - Quote From #RECITE #QUOTE:

I do like the way Hemingway painted the war. I think that's why A Farewell to Arms is lauded. The realistic portrayal of the war. The characters made a big deal about how the main character was wounded and they made him into a hero. But he was like, "I wasn't even fighting. I was getting cheese for our lunch." He was wounded while setting up dinner. And everybody thought it was great that he was wounded for nothing. Rather sad, isn't it?

I loved the way Hemingway ended it. It doesn't feel like an ending. It's so open. But I love open endings! And with A Farewell to Arms, I realized why open endings work for me. Because the character lives on, when that one time in his life or that one story ends, another begins. It's a natural thing. 

You end one chapter, another takes its place immediately. When you go through one phase in life, you enter another. There's no hanging around in between, even that would be consider a phase of its own. So it makes sense that when the story ends, another opens. We see that next story open because the change is so immediate. One story leads to another, it's so seamless that the writer cannot separate the two. We then feel as if the story hasn't ended, not because in truth the story hasn't ended, but because we have a begun a new story and are forced to discontinue it.

Anyhow, despite not liking A Farewell to Arms, there were still good things about it. And may I just talk about the edition again? I found this book was on a shelf in the back of an un-air-conditioned shop filled with yellowed and faded books. The edition was from the 70s or 80s. It might have been previously owned by a bored college student or something. It had to have been required reading for someone. There was the occasionally line or unusual word underlined. But sometimes I would come across a whole page wherein all the "o"s were colored in with pen. Or all the "a"s. It was funny. And interesting to think about the previous owner.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

So, of course, I loved this book! It's Holmes, what's not to love? Honestly, I've read so many Holmes books now, I can only accurately place a few details within this book. Most things I just know that I've read it in one of the Holmes stories, but which one? *shrugs* Does it matter?

So here's what I remember.

You know on BBC Sherlock, that time when SH sits with his knees hugged to his chest?

"I feel like this is Sherlock’s natural waiting pose    he looks like a kid waiting to be picked up" (Tumblr):

Yeah, book Sherlock actually does that.

So the thing about the Memoirs is that this is the book with Moriarty. 

Moriraty first "shows" up in the book The Valley of Fear. Both Watson and Lestrade thought Holmes might be going crazy because he kept alluding to this Moriarty. But Moriarty seems a respectable man and is so far removed from the plot in The Valley of Fear that he doesn't even make an appearance. Holmes merely talks about him. And the readers wonder if Moriarty had anything to do with the events of the plot.


But finally in the Memoirs we see probably the most famous Holmes story unfold, The Final Problem. And we see Moriarty. Again even in the story, he gets little page time. His notoriety is held in whispers and the evil results of his deeds.

So you know that part during BBC Sherlock, the pool scene, when

 Moriarty says, "All that I have to say has already crossed your mind." 

And Sherlock says, "Then possibly my answer has crossed yours."

Guys! They took those lines STRAIGHT FROM CANON! Do you know how ecstatic I was when I read those lines? Some Sherlock Holmes purists don't like BBC Sherlock because the production changed so many things. But accuracy is in the details, the timeless snippets that you just can't alter or delete because it's too perfect. Like those lines.

The Final Problem was probably my favorite of the all the stories, although I do remember the Greek Interpreter one as very interesting too.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the edition. I bought it secondhand from a Half Price Books. It's riddled with typos. Sometimes a word is missing from a phrase, and there are a lot of misspellings. The worst and most frequent is a missing "l" from "Holmes," so it reads as "Homes." 


But the stories themselves were amazing! 

What have you been reading lately?


  1. I...have not read any of these books. (Oops. :P) But great thoughts on them! I quite like those Hemingway quotes you included, though I must admit that I didn't enjoy The Old Man and the Sea (my first, and so far only, Hemingway book).

    Your reasoning behind picking up more classics was definitely amusing and relatable! I don't know, I just feel I "should" be reading more of those myself. And often I find deep, interesting things in the classics I do read, not to mention intelligent wittiness, so I don't know why it still feels like an obligation sometimes. XD

    1. I agree about Hemingway. I don't really like his style? I don't mind his short fiction usually, but I can't stand it for a whole novel. XD

      Me too!

  2. I have been reading retelling, and a lot of fairie books or just books with Fae.
    I think it's really sweet that you read that book as a kind of remembrance to your professor sounds like something I would do.
    I don't understand why some people don't like the BBC version of Sherlock, they really kept to the books as much as possible.

    1. Oo, those sounds interesting! Fae are fascinating and retellings are usually good too!

      Yeah. :)

      I know! It's really interesting comparing them and seeing how they told the stories in the modern world. I love it!

  3. I have not read any of these, but I need to read The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, as I'm currently watching the BBC show, and really like it!
    I just love Moriarty's sass :-)
    -Jollygirl @ Reflections of a Jolly Girl

    1. Oh, yes! Read Sherlock. Anything Sherlock! XD The books are very good. BBC Sherlock is awesome too; I'm glad you're enjoying it.
      Yes. :)

  4. I love all of the details from the original books and stories go into BBC Sherlock! :)

  5. Must really read original Sherlock! ~hides face from book purists the world round~ Ugh, but it does break my heart that you didn't like AFTA. (though I am strong in the broken place ...) Do you want to hear a fun thing?

    "Yes, Emily, I'd love to."

    Well, I'm so glad. ;)

    The first chapter of AFTA has five paragraphs. AFTA is divided into five books. Each para of ch1 is roughly proportional in length to each book. And each para thematically reflects / introduces motifs for each of the five books. And if that's not just about the best thing you've ever heard, I'd like to know what is.

    1. You should! You would love it! Except for the backstory info dump in the full length novels. . . What was Doyle thinking? But the stories are quite good. :) I know! I really wanted to like AFTA. I tried and I did like some of it, but I guess I can't like every book. As nice as that sounds. (XD That was a good one.)

      WHAT?! That's the greatest thing in the world! Top level organization that would go over my head (and obviously did). Now I must hunt down a copy of it in the library and see this brilliance in forethought! I would never be able to do something like that. My brain is to erratic. Some people are so amazing. How do they do it?

  6. Dude, I love what you said about open endings because it's SO true. You can never fully slam an ending on a story because you suffocate the characters and the story because then they can't fully go on, they can't live and grow and change within your imagination and subconscious. I am a massive fan of open endings, but only in retrospect because at the time it's like no, wait, I NEED TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS. Then I walk away and I'm like, well, at least it's still going on, sort of.

    AND YES. BBC's Sherlock is so amazing because they've totally modernised it but they've nailed the details. I've never really read any Sherlock before seeing BCC's and I was totally amazed at how accurate so much of that show is. Points to you, Moffat. Points to you.

    1. EXACTLY! It can't truly end, well, unless they all die. I agree. In the moment, open endings are like "What?! I want to know what comes next!" But yeah, in theory, they rock. XD

      *nods* I didn't read any of the books until after watching BBC Sherlock. Like, I wanted to read them, but watching BBC Sherlock made me stop procrastinating on reading the books. And I love to see the parallels and the way they modernized it. Just genius.


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