Reader’s Journal: A Mystery, and A Diversion

Notice that the sidebar says I’m still reading The Big House. I’ve stopped to read my book for book club, The Old Wine Shades by Martha Grimes. I’m not quite halfway through, but at least I’m feeling a bit less confused. I’m not a reader of serial mysteries, or mysteries in and of themselves, at all. I’ve read a few of the alphabet books by Sue Grafton, and I was an avid reader of Agatha Christie when I was young, but that’s about it. The trouble I’m having with this Grimes book is that she makes great assumptions that you know who’s who and what happened in her last book. Especially at the beginning, she introduces a new character (Strike that–characters new to me. Any regular reader probably follows right along.) with no explanation of who he or she is or what the relation is to the detective, Richard Jury. I know that’s the point of a series, but I find it annoying in a book club read. I’m not going to go read the 372 books that come before it just so I can get through this one. In a way, it seems to put some mystery writers at a disadvantage for getting picked as a book club read, at least for generic book clubs like mine. I suppose for a mystery book club, you could agree to read the whole shebang. Anyway, I’m at least starting to get the hang of the one I’m reading and to get into the story, which is sort of interesting. Grimes pulls in some different tactics, like references to literary criticism and physics and so on, so that makes it fun.

The Big House is interesting so far, like peering into a lifestyle I can only imagine, but I’ll talk more about that when I finish the book. The book club selection has not been my only diversion from that book. We’ve been watching “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and it’s a good thing these only come one or two at a time from Netflix, or else I’d sit down and watch the whole thing from start to finish. I’d call in sick to work, even. I’m only on the second season, and I feel completely cheated when I get a disc that only has two or three episodes. I was only a little girl when this aired here on Masterpiece Theater, and apparently they played it on A&E years ago, but I didn’t have cable. I was so excited to find it on Netflix, but I’ve been sure to evenly space out the five seasons with movies. The thing is, it doesn’t give me much to talk about at the office. All my co-workers watch reality television. I say it that way because they seem to watch all the reality shows, not just one or two. Team lunches are filled with talk about who can dance and who can sing and who can lose the most and who’s going home. I show great interest in my sandwich or whatever, because they think I am weird and a snob. (Co-worker to me: “You don’t watch any reality shows? Not even ‘American Idol’? You’re weird.”) I think I would only make it worse if I said, “And the thing about Sarah hooking up with James Bellamy is, well, you know when Pamela married Mr. B in Pamela, they actually rang the church bells! For real! But you can see that even though things started to change long ago, a lot still hadn’t changed…” I did watch Top Chef–the one reality show no one in my group seemed to watch. I should still get points for that, don’t you think? At least when fall television starts I’ll have “The Office,” which is more acceptable and makes me seem less like a circus freak to them (although let’s face it: “Grey’s Anatomy” would get me bigger points). *sigh*

*image from powells

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