Holmes and King
I promised to say something about Laurie Meets the Sherlockians, my trip to New York earlier this month. I will have a photo or two on the March newsletter (for which you can sign up at my web site, or for those of you whose computers donâ€™t like my links–and honestly, I do give them for things like Sarah Weinmanâ€™s blog, https://laurierking.com/newsletter.php )
It started last June, when I received a letter from Michael Dirda, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic of the Washington Post, asking me to come and give a talk to the assembled Sherlock Holmes society, the Baker Street Irregulars.
It was a remarkably generous request, considering the rocky relationship Holmes and I have had over the past years. I began by stealing another writerâ€™s character, then having the temerity to saddle this honored and dignified gentleman with a smart-mouthed apprentice (who, moreover, occasionally beats him at his own game.) And as if these indignities were not enough, when she grows up, she marries him.
Had it been pretty much any other name sending the letter, Iâ€™d have figured it for a joke, butâ€¦ Michael Dirda? Why, thatâ€™s capital-L Literature talking. And whatâ€™s more, he promised they wouldnâ€™t throw tomatoes at me. And I checked with a couple of friends who were going to be thereâ€”Peter Blau, who has been a friend since Beekeeper days, and Les Klinger, author of the recent Annotated Holmes (and both of them, by the way, characters in The Art of Detection)â€”and they agreed, the Sherlockians didnâ€™t bite.
So despite the hazards to us hothouse types of a New York sojourn in January, I said yes.
Besides, they said theyâ€™d put me up at the Algonquin, home of all those other capital-L Literary types who sat around the round table and made up insults so clever they made people bleed.
So I wrote a paper, since it would be impossible to recreate afterwards a talk given in my usual extemporaneous fashion, and if youâ€™re interested, you can see it later this spring in the Baker Street Journal. And I managed to hit the right note, I think, a combination of tongue-in-cheek Sherlockian scholarship with some personal reflection and autobiography, because nobody threw anything and a lot of people actually brought books for me to sign.
And I have to say, those Sherlockians know how to party. Thursday night cocktails, LRKâ€™s lecture, and dinner at a private club, terribly posh. Friday a raucous lunch (a picture Iâ€™ll put on the newsletter showing me with a glass of beer and a large grin is pretty much how I spent the whole three days) put on by the legendary womenâ€™s group (didnâ€™t know there were female Sherlockians, did you?) the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes. Ever since I heard of them, I wanted to be an adventuress, and now that Iâ€™ve seen their lunchtime revels, even more so.
Friday night was the formal BSI banquet, men in tuxes, women (about ten percent, quite large, considering) in sequins, and me. Well, Iâ€™m an artist, we donâ€™t have to do black-tie. Silly songs, challenging contests (I think I got one of the answers, testing knowledge of the Holmes stories), very edible but instantly forgettable banquet food, and a good time was had by all. Including yours truly.