Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dorothy Sayers: In the Teeth of the Evidence

I'm home sick today, so it's BLOGGING DAY my friends, bloggetty-bloggetty blog! I have six (6) empty posts in my draft lists that are waiting to be filled with content. All I have to do is type like a madwoman for a few hours (with intervals for the Book of Face, random surfing, making extensive watch lists on Ebay and Tradera), then set the posts to be published at regular intervals - and hey presto, it once again looks like I'm a Real Blogger™.  This draft is the oldest, so I'm starting here. Also it's the easiest post to write I think, I probably don't even have to locate the book (a near-impossible task since that ill-fated attempt to organize the shelves alphabetically), since I've read it several times and should remember it anyway.

Often, if I re-read a book, I forget to blog about it, which means that some of my favourites are unsung. I actually thought I had written about this one - I'm quite pleased to own it, since it's a collection of short stories by Dorothy Sayers and it's the sort of thing that the library often doesn't have. This is a grubby, yellowed little paperback, not in great condition at all (oops, a Real Blogger™ would have taken a photo or a scan - I've revealed myself as a fraud, once again), and the quality of the stories varies too. I'm still very fond of it.

Wikipedia has a list of the stories contained within the, in my case, cheap covers. Which saves me the trouble of typing it out and/or locating the book. I especially like the Montague Egg stories, and in my opinion Montague Egg could have done with some feature novels for himself (an opinion I don't share with the author of that Wikipedia article). Of the other stories I'd like to mention The Leopard Lady, because it deals with the cold-blooded murder of a child,which feels uncharacteristic for the time and the genre. I can't remember coming across it before, and was surprised that the child does actually die - I was expecting a sudden rescue. Also, The Milk Bottles gives a nice little look into the troubles of journalism, with editors mangling the writers one- and two-column pieces so much even the writers don't recognize them afterwards. Now, I wouldn't say these stories are any better than the others, I just was struck more by those two themes. Like most short stories from The Golden Age they smack of bread-and-butter-writing, which I quite like - as though they were written to be printed in magazines just to pay the bills.

Ideally I'd like to write something about each story, because a quick google shows that this isn't easy to find online and someone out there might be looking for it, but I think this will have to wait for someone more dedicated to scholarship than myself. Allow me a quote, made possible by an online version of the book:

There were, he knew, only three bedrooms in this isolated corridor; his own, in the middle; on the left, No. 8, containing old Waters, of Messrs. Brotherhood, Ltd., the soft-drinks-and-confectionery firm; on the right, No. 10, allotted to that stout man who travelled in jewellery, whose name was Pringle, and who had stuffed himself up that evening with dubious mackerel and underdone pork, to the admiration of all beholders. Close behind the head of Monty’s bed, the rich and rhythmical snoring of old Waters shook the thin partition like the vibration of a passing lorry. It must be Pringle who was making the uproar; mackerel and pork were the most probable explanation.

Obviously recommended, duh.

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