my_daroga: Sirius from Diana Wynne Jones' Dogsbody. Based on my dog. (dog)
I am about 3/4 done with Laurie R. King's latest, The God of the Hive, which is the ninth in her Mary Russell series and follows on directly from the last book. I don't have a review--for some reason, I never feel as inclined/capable about book reviews as film. I don't know why that is.

No, the reason I'm posting today is because I am annoyed, and it is about authors explaining their references. Specifically, spoilers )

Honestly, if I get the reference, then great. If I don't, no harm done. If I do, and then I have it constantly explained, I just feel like the author thinks I'm too stupid to get it, and frankly, if I didn't get it the first time am I going to the fifth? I would have been far easier with the allusion, further, if it had remained less explicit (and it wasn't very subtle to begin with).

Sherlock Holmes, Mary Russell, and me

  • May. 27th, 2009 at 10:00 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (iconic)

Reactions to The Language of Bees (spoilers) )

But really, my intention was to post about my history with Laurie R. King's Russell, and with Holmes fandom in general. It's sort of interesting to me because while I see Russell being criticized as a Mary Sue, and I certainly think it's possible not to like her, I think there's an important distinction to be made. I think she is, in a very real sense, a self-insert. But then again, she was my self-insert:

Mary Russell and I were 15 at the same time, and so when she stumbled upon Sherlock Holmes while reading a book, my blond-plaited bookworm self responded with considerably more excitement than Russell herself. You see, Holmes was one of my first crushes/idols, and at that time he and Erik vied for top place in my personal pantheon of awesomeness. So to read a book in 1994 that had someone vaguely matching my description (I'm shorter, and didn't wear glasses) falling in with one of my heroes, well, how could I resist?

I realize this doesn't exactly recommend the series, and only explains my attachment to it. It also, probably, explains my disillusion with it later when I started to find Russell herself a little hard to take. I didn't like her much, at one point. It's hard to remember why now, but I stopped buying each book as it came out. I dropped off the RUSS-L mailing list, which I was on in the mid-90's. Actually I wasn't involved in fandom much in general during that time, though I did devote a chapter of my undergraduate thesis to "debunking" feminist notions about The Beekeeper's Apprentice. (It basically ammounted to unease over the type of feminism portrayed, which struck me as entirely male-centered, and was part of a larger work about the appropriation of Holmes for various ends over the years, focusing on Rathbone, The 7% Solution, and Russell.)

Anyway, after joining LJ and stumbling upon [ profile] lizbee and [ profile] cesario and their discussion/fic, interest was rekindled and I read those I'd missed. By the time the new one was on the horizon, I was ready. It's interesting, how these things come in cycles. Even now, I'm not sure how I feel about Russell, but my initial meeting with her has combined with nostalgia to fuel my interest. I'm not convinced she's merely a Mary Sue: she has plenty of faults, and not necessarily the sort that make someone even more attractive, and she had to be somewhat bright to pair with Holmes anyway. And I don't think the self-insert aspects are wholly negative, or a statement of quality one way or the other. We all "write what we know" to some degree.

I was going to say more, about my history with Holmes, but it didn't seem to fit in quite right so I'll save that for later. It's funny, a little, how Mary grew up before me but has slowed down, so now I'm six years older than she. But I still feel a little entwined with her, a little spark based on the initial coincidence. And I think that was an extremely important coincidence to the teenage me.


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