Change my mind Melt the strand Of icicle that pierced This chest
Let me believe In magic, Mermaids And fairytales
And if, in case, you can’t hand a happy ever after—
I’ll have happy Let me have happy instead. I’ll take it any time, Any day.
Facebook memories reminded me that I wrote this piece three years ago on this day. A lot of things have happened since then, but one thing remains: I’d still choose that happy any day. Sending virtual hugs to those who need it. 😊💛
Quick Notes: The Hound of Baskervilles is the third of four novels in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon of Sherlock Holmes. I won’t write how superb this book is for I know I will just be repeating what most people have already said. Instead, let me just point out two aspects which made this particular story unique to me.
1. Dr. John H. Watson – Sherlock Holmes’ best friend and confidant. The romantic and often sentimental medical doctor that perfectly complements the emotionally-detached and analytical consulting detective. The ordinary against the brilliant.
Despite being wrongly perceived (and portrayed) as being a fool in most tv/film adaptations, Watson’s role is undoubtedly crucial to every Sherlock Holmes adventure. He serves as both a storyteller and a shock absorber of Holmes’ uncanny deductive flair for the reader. I personally find the few stories in which Watson plays a minor role (or none at all) a little lacking and dry. This is one reason why I enjoyed The Hound of Baskervilles.
In this novel, we get to see a little more of Watson in action. He sets out to solve (try) a crime ─ on his own ─ even just for a short period of time. We follow him as he simultaneously employs Sherlock’s methods and his own in search for clues. And although, Sherlock gets to hammer down the mystery in the end, this book made it apparent that there is more to Watson than meets the eye.
2. The setting – The Hound of Baskervilles is one of the few stories that uproots readers away from 221B Baker Street. Instead of a warm, comfortable sitting room, it takes you to the cold, wet English moor with nothing but fogs, bogs and fire-breathing hounds. With an added Victorian air and a touch of supernatural, this book stands out from the rest of Doyle’s detective stories.
I have mentioned in Book Talk: Books or movies? A reader’s dilemma. that I prefer watching the adaptation first over reading the book. And I’m glad I did so because a lot of the scenes were changed in the films that I wouldn’t have enjoyed had I known the original plot. Of the three versions I have seen ─ 1939, 1959 (unfinished) and 2012 ─ the latter took a complete turnaround. It was enjoyable nonetheless, thank you Benedict Cumberbatch, but definitely not the movie you’d want to see if you’re looking for Doyle’s original plotline.
Overall, The Hound of Baskervilles gets two thumbs up from me! A great read after a month of craving for Sherlock Holmes. 😀
She asked me to take her photo by the window. The moon hung above her head as I looked through the lens. She tucked a cigarette stick on her mouth; inhaled. Exhaled and laughed at me through the smoke.
We met in a bar two hours ago. A little drunk, she was singing to the tune of “Whiskey in the Jar.” Whack fol the diddle. Oh whack fol the diddle. oh there’s whiskey in the jar. In a crowd of dancing homos, there she was. Singing an old Irish folk song.
“You!” She notices me staring. “Are you in love with me yet? One glass of whiskey for the man in black,” she shouted. On our third glass, she pulled me out of the bar, pointed at an abandoned house across the street. “Meet me there in 5.”
So here I am. With a Lumix G9 in hand. Where she got it from, I did not ask. In fact, I never said a word since. Raising a cigarette, she looked at me from the glowing tip.
Click. I don’t really smoke.
Click. I don’t drink.
Click. I haven’t fa— I was in love.
Click. Remember this night.
We slept under the faint September moon in silence. There was no need for romance or sex in this kind of intimacy. The dawn breaks and I found myself alone. Something else breaks. Deep inside.
Damn. I didn’t even ask her name.
While going through my drafts, I saw this short story which was dated October 16, 2018. It is again like my previous post Vignette: The forgotten pages of whines — a forgotten piece whose muse got buried in the stacks of random musings and curiosities. I’m sharing it now to dust off the cobwebs of yesterdays.
This time, I would like to share with you the biggest bane and boon of my reading life. My moods.
Most of us, if not all, go through this kind of dilemma. There are days when it gets frustrating to pick a book to read, especially when it’s hard to pinpoint what you’re in the mood for. Some days, you try and give it a few pages, yet halfway through, you’re like “Nope. Not this one. Abandon ship.” Even those copies that you’ve been so excited to get your hands on feel distant now.
So you wait until you feel that pull to read again.
Last November, I promised myself that I will not be spending any more money on books until the end of 2020. That I will continue ticking off my TBR list instead. So far, I have not given to temptation ─ but, problem is, I have not read any book either.
All my moods seem to be in perfect unison and point me to one man and one man alone: Sherlock Holmes. The well-loved Victorian detective in the literary world. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous antihero with an impressive knack for solving cases in a strange and singular manner. And the only high-functioning sociopath I am most in love with (Sorry, Sheldon. It’s not you, it’s physics.)
I have read the anthology of stories, watched all versions of film adaptations and, just this month, listened to all audiobooks I could find in the public domain. If only I have my book with me, I would re-read all 700 pages once more.
Oh, I am SHERLOCKED again. What do you do with such a mood?
So, we are down to final month of this challenging year. I know it has been hard all of us but I hope everyone is safe, sound and thriving.
November — the month that was. It’s when half of the world transitions from autumn to winter. It’s when dead souls are honored and bounties are celebrated. It’s when creatives around the world try their hands at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
I guess for me it would be “Nah, no writing November.” Anyhow, here’s a quick wrap-up.
My book collection is still continuously growing — all thanks to online resellers and Booksale. And despite the rise of scammers online, I was lucky enough to transact with kind and honest people who helped me find the books in my TLF (to look for) list. For this month, these are the gems that I got:
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (Php180 @a_bookworms_closet)
Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror by Edgar Allan Poe (Php150 @a_bookworms_closet)
Isle of Dogs by Patricia Cornwell (Php25 @Robinsons)
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (Php44 @Robinsons)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Php125 @Robinsons)
After Nature by Purdy (Php39 @Robinsons)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Php100 @mgaaklatnitanna)
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Php125 @mgaaklatnianna)
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Php85 @mimilybluebooks)
Politically Correct Guide to the Bible (Php75 @mimilybluebooks)
Meanwhile, I kept getting sidetracked in between reading with all the chaos brought by typhoons, work and politics. I was able to finish two books though: Letters To My Son by Kent Werburn and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
A big shoutout as well to LibriVox for their free public domain audiobooks. I was able to revisit once again the good ol’ favorite, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes this month.
Places I’ve been…
My SMS friends and I got a chance to catch up and hike the Spartan Trail for the first time after lockdown. The heavy rains weeks before brought the trail to life. The riverbed was filled with water, the leaves were greener, the wind was cooler — it was the lovely day indeed to convene with nature. I went back to Spartan Trail on the third week of November, this time with James and his colleagues.
Posts I loved…
My virtual presence during this month was faint. I didn’t get a chance to read other people’s posts or interesting reads from the likes of Brainpickings/Medium. Let’s strive to do better this December, shall we? 😀
Genre: Modern Classic/Dystopia Copy: Paperback Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌖
Quick Notes:“Are there any questions?”
To some, this might just be an ordinary statement of inquiry. But to those who have read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, these four words carry too much weight.
Originally published in 1985, Atwood’s dystopian novel takes readers to the fictional Republic of Gilead. It follows Offred, a Handmaid assigned to a high-ranking commander and his wife. In an age of declining births, Handmaids are valued only for their capability to procreate. They are held prisoners — stripped off their past and future. They are forbidden to read, write, or interact with the outside world. They are meant only to bear children for their assigned commander and failure to do so warrants death.
The story ends with Professor Pieixoto’s final line, “Are there any questions?” To me this seems like a rhetorical question asked not to get an answer but instead to emphasize a point. It forces us to question our role as witnesses — both of Offred’s tale and of our own history of oppression.
Do we forget and stay silent? Do we remain neutral and indifferent? Do we stand up and fight?
The Handmaid’s Tale, told in simplistic prose, is a clarion call for upholding women’s rights to take control over our own bodies, choices and lives. With the current political climate, this book is definitely a must-read.