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On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling (Writers on Writers)

by by Michael Dirda

Publishers Weekly Though most people could pick Sherlock Holmes out of a crowd, not many could craft such a spirited and personal account of the great detective's creator's life and lesser-known works as Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post book columnist Dirda (Book by Book). A proud member of the Baker Street Irregulars-one of the oldest and largest Holmes appreciation societies-Dirda intertwines his childhood discovery of Holmes and Watson (it all started with The Hound of the Baskervilles) with the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). While casual readers will associate Conan Doyle exclusively with 221B Baker Street, Dirda makes a strong case for investigating Doyle's extensive bibliography, which includes adventure stories (The Lost World), historical novels (Micah Clarke), supernatural stories ("The Horror of the Heights"), and books on spiritualism. But Holmes is still the main attraction, and the fascinating dynamics of the Irregulars are as rich as any of Conan Doyle's fictions. The Irregulars grudgingly accept, but do not encourage, the views of "Doyleans," who consider the Holmes stories as blips written by the author of The Lost World. Dirda's lifelong enthusiasm and keen critical skills underscore the timeless quality of the brilliant detective and his multifaceted creator. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Written by a lifelong fan of Conan Doyle's work (and an accomplished writer himself, having won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993), this book is equal parts literary biography and the author's memoir of his own life as a reader of Conan Doyle. Dirda urges readers to read beyond the Holmes canon. After all, during Conan Doyle's lifetime "there appeared most of our pattern--establishing masterpieces of science fiction, horror, fantasy, and adventure"-all of which Conan Doyle had a hand in through adventure, sf, and chilling horror stories of his own. Not intended either as academic biography or scholarly criticism, this book will give its readers fascinating tidbits about Conan Doyle's life, including much beyond Holmes, as well as charming stories of Dirda's own love of reading. -VERDICT An enjoyable read for those wishing to extend their Conan Doyle reading and for fans of other genres, such as sf, adventure, and memoir.-Megan Hodge, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., Richmond, VA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.