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Other than early issues, The Baker Street Journal has tended to stay away from pastiches, or stories written about Sherlock Holmes in the style of Doyle. Call it the purists in us, or call it the lack of editorial space that those early volumes so plentifully offered (remember too that they bankrupted publisher Ben Abramson).

I was recently contacted by Mark Wardecker to see if I knew if the BSJ would run a pastiche that he had written. I let him know that it wouldn't. While I don't typically enjoy that form of Sherlockian work myself, nor do I wish this blog to be a repository of the same, I did take a quick look at what he had done with "The Adventure of the Second Round." Mark describes it as follows:
This particular story is set very late, just before Watson's last marriage and Holmes' subsequent retirement. Once again, Holmes and Watson find themselves "moving in high life" (ABBE) after they are called in by the Yard to help solve a murder in Kensington.
Like I said, I'm not a fan of this particular genre - I'm a Canonical purist. As a rule, writers that attempt to mimic Conan Doyle's unique and sparse style usually fall short. With very few words (as opposed to his Victorian colleagues such as Dickens or Trollope), he managed to set vivid scenes for us. And most writers just can't accomplish it in the same facile way the Doyle did.

While it is an admirable first attempt, Wardecker's work is no exception to this rule. You'll find that is is about 90% dialog (I don't know the exact figures, but I know Doyle used significantly more narrative in his work). It's very believable as far as that goes, but there are certain turns of phrase that mark it as alternatively modern or stilted, which is another hallmark of pastiches.

I'd recommend that you take a look at it yourselves, because your enjoyment of it may be far different than my own. You can see what Mark says about it on his blog The Analytical Engines; in addition, you can download the PDF here.

I'd be interested to know what you think of it.


Mark said... June 16, 2007 at 2:27 PM

Thank you, Scott. Given your tastes, I'm really flattered that you read my story so closely. I also greatly appreciate your insights into the use of dialog and the mixing of antique and modern idioms. While writing a pastiche is great fun, it is not an easy task, and input like yours will be invaluable when I make my next attempt. I hope that your posting the story will generate even more comments from other readers (and will lead to others' enjoying the story, of course).

Thank you, again, for doing this.

Yours truly,
Mark Wardecker

Jan Prager said... June 17, 2007 at 3:41 PM

It's a good pastiche -- well written and enjoyable, as is anything concerning Holmes and Watson. Thanks for the referral. Good job, Scott.


sherlock said... June 17, 2007 at 5:15 PM

I enjoy pastiche, the ones I really dislike are the ones where the writer is trying to write like Doyle. Pastiches are fun and a great way to express how you see the characters :) this was one was well written and fun :)

I've read some great ones on the internet, a lot of them have a better 'Watson voice' than the various published pastiches.