Last night on the plane I finished Benjamin Hoff's "The House on the Point", which is a Hardy Boys homage. I enjoyed it very much, and in particular I enjoyed that it sought to flesh out the story rather than make the in-jokes that some such enterprises attempt (setting aside the John-Galt-like monologue about Phillip Marlowe). It was instead a devoted remix, taking the samples from the book, interweaving them with new samples, to create a new and workable assemblage. When I was a boy, my mother read Hardy Boys mysteries to my brother and I, to encourage in us a love for reading on our own. It worked, and as soon as I was able, I was turning pages on "The Great Airport Mystery" and similar tomes, sometimes in updated versions, sometimes in vintage versions. Perhaps this is the only acceptable gender differentiation remaining in matters of reading--"is it a boy?" or "is it a girl?" is replaced by "will you be reading him the Hardy Boys?" or "Will you be reading her Nancy Drew?". I like the side characters, like Chet and Bess.
On another level, the gender differentiation in childrens' fiction is a bad thing, because I hate, a little, that I did not read "Anne of Green Gables" until I was in my twenties, as Anne is so much the kind of person I enjoy, at least until she and Gilbert get married and set about hobnobbing with twins so cute that they presaged the invention of saccharine and mercilessly cute talking parrots owned by sadly language-afflicted sea captains.
Hoff's book has a great afterword about the musical and artistic propensities not only of famous mystery detectives, but also of mystery novelists, and the importance of teaching the arts in school. I think sometimes we live in a monument culture. In my own, some fifty million dollars is going to be spent on a concert hall. I imagine, even yet, how much could instead be spent on
community arts program, to greater effect, with a more modest but sonically suitable auditorium serving the arts hall function.
I liked music class when I was a child, when a woman with an autoharp came a time or two a week, and sang songs with us we never sang before or since (holiday fare excepted), but which I still remember. There was a Spanish song about someone captured on a highway by Moorish bandits hiding, and a song about spinning the dreidl which described things entirely outside our experience.
I've been fond of the autoharp ever since, and now own one and a few times a year, uusally at Christmas, sit down and play it.
The weather remains hot, with no chance of rain in sight. The news last night featured a story on our local town's "report drought violators" hotline. I enjoy a cool glass of water, with ice, but am not tempted to run my sprinkler on the wrong day.
My dog Bea just came into my spare room, where I sit typing at a computer desk, and hopped about and showed endless enthusiasm. I put her in my lap, where she kissed and wobbled and eventually hopped off, and she flew back downstairs. She's stalking field mice outdoors these days, and she has a grand time in all she does.