Lyndsay Faye, Sherlock Holmes and The Whole Art of Detection

I'm a long-time fan of Lyndsay Faye's work: her Timothy Wilde trilogy rang all my historical fiction bells, and I loved the cleverness of Jane Steele. And so it was an honor to be able to interview her about her newest book, The Whole Art of Detection, a collection of Sherlockian stories that perfectly capture the essence of Doyle's original tales:


Interview with Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye has been reading Sherlock stories since she was 10. "I loved them," she says, "and then I never actually stopped reading them. Lacking the Internet, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I discovered there was such a thing as pastiches and fan fiction out there. Then I read as much of the non-canonical material as I could find--probably thousands of stories at this point, no joke." 


Review of The Whole Art of Detection

The 15 stories in Lyndsay Faye's The Whole Art of Detection will prove purely delightful for fans of the original adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. With two entirely new stories, and 13 others culled from previous anthologies and magazine contributions, the collection stands as a tribute to Faye's way with words and witticisms, both of which combine to reinvigorate Holmes and Watson (as well as their surrounding casts of miscreants, assistants and unassuming bystanders).

The Stranger in the Woods: Giving Context and Meaning to the Life of a Modern Hermit

Michael Finkel has an interesting past as a journalist. Once a reporter for the New York Times (he was fired after it was revealed that he created a composite subject out of many sources), his first book, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, told the story of a fugitive who used the name "Michael Finkel" as an alias while on the run from police--a true (if stranger than fiction) story. His newest book, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, is once again a true tale that feels stranger than fiction, detailing the solitary life of Christopher Knight, who lived (voluntarily) as a hermit in the Maine woods for 27 years.

Week in Reading (and Running): April 9th

two hikers sleeping on rocks overlooking the potomac river on the appalachian trail
Caught Lounging: Two Hikers on the AT

This past week was a recovery week in more ways than one: after last weekend's back-to-back high-mileage runs (totaling 26 miles in two days), the training plan for this week called for two easy-paced 45-minute runs and only 8 miles for yesterday. I ran two easy-paced 30 minute runs, did a session at the physical therapists, and barely eked out 5.5 miles on Saturday's run before calling it a dud; despite the low mileage all week, my legs were still absolutely exhausted and just would not get themselves into gear. After the dud run and a short hike yesterday (see photo above), today is all rest, rest, rest, stretch, and a bit more rest. Like Tara said in her running recap this week, someone remind me to keep up these PT and stretching exercises post-injury, yeah? They're exhausting but I think it's probably telling that they are so. Race day in T-3 weeks. But who's counting?

Social Justice Book Club: Q&A with Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique's Journey (the March pick for the Social Justice Book Club) answered a few club questions for us to add on to the discussion of her book (see my recap of the month here).

Social Justice Book Club: Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario

Another month gone, another Social Justice Book Club book under our belts. In March, the group read Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother, by Sonia Nazario. The book, originally published in 2006, was revised and updated in 2014 to reflect the ever-changing story of immigration in the United States from Central America. The story began as a series in the Los Angeles Times (for which Nazario received a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing), and offers an in-depth account of one boy's journey from Honduras to reunite with his mother in the United States, often atop dangerous freight trains surging through Mexico.

Looking Back: March Wrap-Up

three photos in a row: the first of a view of tree tops and a river taken from a high point on the appalachian trail, the second a sunset over an island in the carribbean with beams of light shooting up and a sailboat heading into the distance, and the third of a small brown dog looking at a pack of cows from the other side of a farmyard fence on a grey, cloudy day

In like a lion, out like a lamb... with a small snowstorm thrown in the middle somewhere around there. Said snowstorm meant a cancelled return flight from our sun-soaked vacation, which meant a few extra days of mandatory vacation reading, but despite the built-in reading time, this month still felt vaguely slump-like in the long run. Hoping for some seriously good reads to kick me out of it in April, but in the meantime, let's not overlook what was good about last month:

Jami Attenberg, Old and New

side by side image of the covers of two Jami Attenberg novels (The Middlesteins and All Grown Up) with "Jami Attenberg: Old and New" overlaid

I recently, entirely accidentally, read two Jami Attenberg books simultaneously: The Middlesteins and All Grown Up. Both were impressive examples of Attenberg's powers of observation and her ability to write about the mundane, the everyday, the ordinary in ways that feel unique, universal, and extraordinary. Both are packed with an emotional depth and honesty that resonated with me in ways I'm still working out.

But at the end of the day, I loved the former and struggled through the latter. I've spent the last week muddling over why, and I still have no clear answer. So I want to know: have you read these both? Did you love them? Hate them? Want to fall into them or throw them against a wall?

Week in Reading: March 27th

*tap tap* Is this thing on? It's been a while since I've done this, so pardon the rust as I get myself back in gear. How many idioms can I cram into one opening sentence? Is this considered burying the lede? Ahem. Without further ado...

I've had a few weeks of good reading, though it all feels vaguely slump-like to me despite enjoying several recent selections. I'm trying to cut myself some slack, but at the same time, I miss reading. And thinking about what I'm reading. And writing about reading. So here I am, trying the writing part in hopes that perhaps it will kick the rest of my reading self back into gear.

Looking Back: February Wrap-Up

It's been a minute, friends. I expect I'll continue to post here rather intermittently for the next few weeks, but as I've started to once again find a groove with some good books, I wanted to check in with a few recent reads and a few books I'm looking forward to devouring in the coming weeks.

Recently Read:

Social Justice Book Club: February Wrap-Up and March Announcements

The Social Justice Book Club read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in February; did you join in? I, for one, was not able to read along--I had an unexpected delay getting my hands on the book, and a death in the family railroaded my reading (and general life) plans for February. And so my "wrap up" of the month here is sorely lacking, but if you read along, I still want to hear what you thought!

Janani is having some computer difficulties, but will have a proper wrap-up post for the February book up within the next few days.

Week in (Very Little) Reading: February 13

Italy, 2012

The world lost a big, imperfect, loving, generous, passionate, kind, and wonderful man this weekend. He traveled widely, loved fiercely, argued strongly, and gave generously of his time and his self. He will be sorely missed.

Week in Reading: February 6, 2017

It's been an unsurprisingly light week in the reading world over here. Work's work, but my spare time has been spent almost exclusively visiting a sick family member and running myself into the ground--not necessarily in that order. Luckily, getting to these visits means plenty of time for audiobooks, and my long run this weekend--my longest to date!--went well and didn't kill me. So, small things. Focus on the small things.

book cover collage of the autobiography of malcolm x, the unquiet dead by ausma zehanat khan, the sun is also a star by nicola yoon, american pastoral by philip roth, and fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe by fannie flagg

Social Justice Book Club: Hope in the Dark Wrap Up & Announcements

I'm going to start by seconding what Janani said in her wrap-up post for this month's reading... thank you. I am amazed at the growth this club has seen in just one month, and so, so excited to see the energy and enthusiasm around reading important books on important topics. It truly makes my heart break a little less every time I read the news, knowing there are so many people interested in digging in on tough conversations each and every day.

So, that said, on to Hope in the Dark. We chose this book for January because it felt timely following the results of the 2016 election... and truly, I couldn't have predicted how timely it would become in the weeks following the 2017 inauguration. With no apologies for block quoting:

A Month in Reading, and Not Reading: January 2017

Well. It has been a month. My heart is heavy with headlines, and I've found myself paralyzed by how overwhelming everything seems right now. I'll be completely honest: in the face of all that's come in recent days, and all I expect will continue to come, I'm finding reading--let alone writing about reading--to be small and mundane and hard to accomplish. But I'm also trying to find some balance, something to hold on to, and books have been a constant source of comfort and strength for me--and so, so many others. And so maybe I'll find my way back to writing about them again. Consider this a practice run.

book covers of the young widower's handbook, the moons of jupiter, destiny of the republic, the underground railroad and among the ruins

Of late, I've read mostly things by deadline: review books, author interviews, and book club meetings. There's something about the sense of control that comes from reading on a deadline that is at once comforting and joyless. Some of these have been truly excellent reads: The Young Widower's Hamdbook (out in February; read with tissues nearby); Moons of Jupiter (short but dense and exceptionally powerful short stories by Alice Munro); Destiny of the Republic (I'm finding unexpected comfort in the chaotic annals of American history; perhaps there are lessons there we can apply to the present); The Underground Railroad (yes, I know, I'm the last person on earth to read this, and yes, it lives up to every bit of hype surrounding it); Among the Ruins (the third in the Detective Esa Khattak series, and you bet I'm now going back to read the first two).

Looking Back at 2016, By the Books

2016 was the first time in a long time I didn't break 100 books read. I didn't get to many of the buzziest books I heard so many good things about. I didn't read a single one of my Book of the Month books (is that some kind of new record)? I didn't finish a single one of my reading challenges.

And I'm not even a little bit mad about it. Because looking back at this year of reading, there were still some really damn good books. Why I liked them, and links to review where available, are included below:

The Year Ahead: Reading, Writing, Living

It's been a quiet little blogosphere around these parts of late. While I'm tempted to apologize for that, one of my goals for the year is to be less sorry and more thankful... and so I'm not going to say I'm sorry I've been distracted, but instead observe that I am thankful that you, whoever you may be, are still here, reading whatever strange musings I fling out into the interwebs, sparse as they may be.

Which brings me to resolutions, focus, and my lack thereof for 2016.

My word of focus for 2016 was "savor." At the end of 2015, feeling burnt out from a year of too much yes, too much joining, and far, far too many to-dos, I wrote,

I will savor the moments that bring me joy, and the people and activities that are part of that.

I failed miserably at this focus. I continued to say yes--travel! weddings! presentations! volunteering!--and did not create the space I needed to be able to sit back and savor the moments I so craved. I got hung up on small disasters, allowing them to derail my sense of purpose. I focused on large disasters--of which there are many, many many--and found myself paralyzed by the horror of it all. I tried to move my life away from lists and to-dos by refusing to mark pleasure activities (reading, hiking, day trips, dates) on a list of "Things to Accomplish." Unable to move completely away from lists and to-dos (my brain can't hold everything, after all), my list of "Things to Accomplish" became little more than household chores and business tasks, and drained the savoring right out of my everything.