22 April 2003 - 11:30 a.m.
In the spirit of living dangerously (I'd say "venturing out of my comfort zone," but not only is that trite, it pretty much applies to the majority of my interactions with people, ink, technology, nature, you name it), I decided to stop by the scary hair salon closest to my house and give it a try - a friend of mine goes there, and another acquaintance likes the owner, so I figured - thirty-year-old marquee notwithstanding - how bad could it be?
Well. . .it's not good when the stylist keeps dropping her tools. And I was flicking bits of hair clippings off of my skin hours later. It's not the worst haircut I've ever received - and certainly the cheapest I've ever purchased in this town. But, it pretty much emphasized why I need to save my shekels and stick with the expert scissor-wielders: getting a clean, chic, well-balanced cut really does demand a level of training and experience yesterday's lady just didn't have, in spite of my repeated efforts to explain what she needed to do.
Oh, how I miss the Asian barber on Thompson Street. (And those trims were even cheaper. Sigh.) I miss the Velvet Ant. Oh, well.
Overheard yesterday morning while waiting for a client: "German is so cool, because it's so specific - there's a word for everything. Want to know what my favorite word is? schadenfreude. . . .isn't it cool that they actually have a word for that!?"
I picked up A Presumption of Death (the second Jill Paton Walsh novel using characters from Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey series) from the library yesterday. In the interests of full disclosure, the author was extremely rude and unfair to a friend of mine a while back, so I'm not kindly disposed towards her in the first place.
Sigh. As some of you know, I've been a Sherlockian since sixth grade, so I've had plenty of time to sort out my feelings towards pastiches and fanfic, and in general, I'm pretty much okay with them. I do get annoyed when other readers want to treat the speculations of secondary material as canonical - and, that, really, is the part where I have problems with both Thrones, Dominations and Presumption of Death being billed as co-written by Dorothy L. Sayers. In both books, there are points where I just don't see DLS's characters saying or thinking the lines attributed to them - in Presumption, especially, there's quite a bit of schmoopiness that had me wincing.
But that happens to me when I read Sherlockian derivations as well - no matter how well done they are, the serious ones usually have a line or paragraph that stick out like the proverbial sore thumb (or, for the Sherlockians reading, shall we say the lack of one?). But I'm still able to enjoy them, like cheap chocolate bunnies. (Over the years, I think the fanfic I've enjoyed most have been the more lighthearted tributes to Lois McMaster Bujold - or, put another way, I'm most able to enjoy the stories that take themselves the least seriously. David McMillan's ImpWed is a particular favorite. And the explicitly eyebrow-arched sequels to Jane Austen - I found Julia Barrett's Presumption's fairly entertaining, in part because it made no bones about shamelessly cribbing style and incident from the original.)
So, I'm not particularly outraged by Paton Walsh's Presumption, nor do I regret spending a couple of hours on it, revisiting characters of whom I'm fond and musing over what could have happened. I'm okay with the Sayers estate allowing sequels, though what I'd really like to see is them granting even more authors license to publish pastiches based on the Wimsey-Vane characters. Sayers is as sturdy as Doyle or Austen - the originals are always going to stand well above the imitations. I can sympathize with those who argue "the author wouldn't have wanted" people playing with their characters, but it's going to happen and I tend to view it as fairly harmless in most instances - and, even when malicious (and I've been unkindly parodied myself), there's the whole "free speech" thing I hold dear (not to mention the inevitability of drawing attention to stuff one wants to vanish in oblivion). From a royalty/profit point of view, I suspect published sequels and pastiches feed the sales and circulation of the originals (not to mention other secondary materials - I've put Catherine Kenney's The Remarkable Life of Dorothy L. Sayers back on my wishlist. . .).
Anyhow, this could all be debated until the cows come home and then some - not too long ago, there was plenty of sound and fury rippling through Nashville over The Wind Done Gone, a parody of Gone With the Wind that the Mitchell estate was not happy about. (I haven't read it, and I haven't revisited GWTW in years, so I can't tell you whether it deserved the fuss.) Basically, as a reader, I want stuff available to me (with the Sayers, what would really make me happy is a fascimile reproduction of the Thrones manuscript). As a consumer, I do try to make my money "talk" when feasible, which is (for instance) why I generally tend to seek books locally before resorting to online vendors, and why I wouldn't have spent money on Presumption anyway. Getting back to the merits of the actual book, I would liken it to a movie adaptation - the characters don't look or act or speak like the ones I know and love - but then, they so rarely do. In my case, even when I violently disagree with the results (see, for instance, my reaction to Chocolat, or the third Anne of Green Gables movie with Megan Follows), there's still a measure of respect - someone loved the original enough to expend considerable time and effort to share their perceptions (or speculations) of it. There are sections of Presumption that make me cringe but others that make me smile - I like St. George's cameos, and being aided in imagining how the Parker children might have turned out.
Anyhow, deadlines are calling, and I'm expecting another client to stop by any moment now, so it's past time for me to get back to work. There's an adorable cartoon up at Google today, and various schemes and projects are moving along, and - oh! - a gorgeous postcard arrived from Ireland. (Thanks, Dichroic.)
One year ago: "More than ever, I'm convinced that motorcyclists who eschew wearing helmets are complete fools."
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