Ponderings, Mysteries, and Cats

This has been a very full, and quick summer, not all of which I am comfortable to post about on the internet. There is this dynamic between blogging (assuming that what I do here remotely resembles that activity), and separating out those things best left private. Makes things interesting ūüėČ

Between work, and marketing my fledgling book indexing business, there is little time to do needlework these days outside of Feast Days and Sundays. That is kind of sad, but the business is for a very good reason, so I really am not complaining in the least. If I could only learn how to go without sleep but, alas, it seems that I am just a human who simply MUST sleep from time to time. If I could just persuade my body that it could get by with, say, 1 hour sleep each night, or just sleep every other night,¬†that would be wonderful – but of course – it doesn’t work that way. Especially when you are (mumble mumble) years old.

At one time I used to be addicted to mysteries – I think it is something genetic from my mother. Anyway, at some point I decided I liked the mental junk food called “The Cat Who…” series. Not heavy¬†by ANY stretch of the imagination,¬†not particularly dark other than the fact that someone was always murdered, colorful characters, overly intelligent yet cute cats, and something you forgot about 3 minutes after finishing the book. Mental¬†cotton candy¬†that was good when you were too tired to read anything else and required no effort at all. A very forgetable “vacation” to an improbable town.

¬†I was at the library yesterday and noted that there was yet another one in this VERY long series, and as I hadn’t read one in a couple of years, I thought “why not?”, and checked it out. I finished it this evening and one of two things have happened:

1. I have lost my taste for mental taffy, or
2. The author REALLY needs to hang it up because she has milked the series for all it is worth, or
3. Both at the same time (I only finished it because I hate not finishing a book)

The book was awful. I think even the characters are tired of the series, it has become a trite also-ran and that is kind of sad.

I haven’t read much fiction in recent years – and I’ve¬†been disappointed every single time that I have tried – when it wasn’t a classic. There seems to be a lesson there ūüôā In the end, I really don’t have much time for leisure reading either –¬†or else my idea of “leisure” reading has changed.¬†I suspect that may¬†be closer to the truth.

Perhaps THIS book, rather than THIS one? How about THIS one?

One thing IS true, regardless of my old love for mysteries, I’ve learned that when I read more than one in a very great while – they depress me. My priest tells me that this is because – regardless of how fun it can be to try and solve a serious mystery, (as opposed to the aforementioned¬†mental¬†candy bar), there is a real darkness at the heart of them. Someone is murdered, lives are broken,¬†fell deeds are contemplated and done. My priest is a very wise man indeed.¬†¬†


4 thoughts on “Ponderings, Mysteries, and Cats

  1. Meg Lark says:

    To me, the overcoming of that darkness is the appeal of mysteries. Yes, lives are broken, but at the heart of every mystery is that people at least try to rise above that brokenness and get on with the business of living. What I would love to see is an Orthodox series of mysteries, that explores that brokenness and attempts to heal, not just the living victims of the murder, but also the people who take that brokenness onto themselves, the investigators. I’ll let the social activists worry about murder mysteries that focus on healing the perpetrator. ūüėČ

    That said — I’ve never been able to sit through a Lillian Jackson Braun novel. The other one who consistently disappoints is P. D. James — it has always driven me crazy that all her characters are slightly frayed around the edges, even her heroes. And she’s very frank about not believing in God, so maybe that’s why her characters are always so…grubby.

  2. orthstitcher says:

    Ah, but an Orthodox series of mysteries would also focus on the repentance of the killer as well. I am thinking of one of our saints who was a bandit leader and murderer prior to his repentance (St. Moses the Ethiopian(http://www.stmaryofegypt.net/saints_moses.shtml) immediately comes to mind – he was a robber/killer/bandit leader before his repentance and he ended as the abbot of a monastery! There are several others but I don’t want to write a book in this comment ūüôā
    Meg wrote:

    I’ll let the social activists worry about murder mysteries that focus on healing the perpetrator

    Of course, what you meant here is NOT what I am talking about. Modern society does not know what to do with Orthodox repentance – “healing the perpetrator” is certainly not the same thing.

    All I am saying is that an truly Orthodox series should find some way to factor in repentance – though it doesn’t have to focus on it unless the author chooses to do so.

    “The Cat Who. . ” series – the mental cotton candy was fun for when I was exhausted. I did not like anything else that author wrote, and, personally, one has to wonder if she even wrote the book I just read that had her name on it. From the hundreds of comments I found on Amazon about that book (which I wish I had seen before wasting my time with it), I am not the only person to ponder that possibility.

    I used to like P.D. James back in the ‘olden’ days, at least the first couple of Jury mysteries I read of hers. The ‘grubbiness’ you mention did get to me though, and I think that I was done after the third one.

  3. Grace says:

    Okay, I just thought all of this was fascinating, and I know it’s a very old post now, so no worries if you don’t want to get back to it. It’ll serve me right for not keeping up to date with your blog. ūüôā

    But first, hallelujah that anyone has the low opinion of those “The Cat Who …” mysteries that I do. Like you, I don’t do fiction anymore because I’m tired of having my sensibilities assaulted by bad writing with no point or — worse — good writing that wants to evangelize for a godless, nihilistic worldview. But I’ll go in for mysteries sometimes, and my theory on those is that if you have a whole series of mysteries, at least the first two or three must be worth something.

    But I couldn’t see anything going on with the Cat series that I needed to revisit. They seemed like pap.

    I’ll still do Agatha Christie, though she’s inconsistent (or was, I should say). And I like the Brother Cadfael series. I’ve also been reading the “First Ladies Detective Agency” books, which are good in some ways, but a tetch formulaic after a while.

    Probably all of the above are well-known to you.

    As to your priest’s point, I actually think you’re right: he sounds very wise. I’ve noticed the same thing when I read mysteries. There’s no one that makes a murder seem more safe to read about than Dame Christie, but that’s not quite right. Living in a small town, I have the chance to read follow-up stories about crimes too unimportant to be covered in a larger area. And yes, the ripples from a sinful act spread out and out. Even in reading about them, the ripples spread to me.

    Or so it seems to me. Anyway, here’s one who votes with your priest, even if I occasionally pick up one of these things. Good thing he’s not my father confessor, eh?

  4. […] Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 in blogs and books World Press is rather odd, sometimes I know when there are comments waiting, sometimes I do not. This time I didn’t know that the blog had decided that Grace’s comment was spam – but it had not been deleted as of yet. This is good. You can see the post she commented¬†on by going here. […]

Comments are closed.