I think that’s a perfectly good word. Of course, I’m up to my eyes in Sudafed and Benadryl, so that might be having an effect.
The topic for today, class, is why books you thought were simply splendid twenty years ago are completely awful today. I’m not talking about thinking Nancy Drew is the height of literature when you’re eight and then trying to read it at forty-eight and realizing she was a Barbie doll who surrounded herself with sychophants and bearded for Ned Nickerson. I mean the stuff you read as adults, those of you who have twenty years of adulthood under your belt. Case in point: Fletch.
If you who follow PopD, you know we did a podcast on Fletch the movie on Monday. We actually watched it on Saturday because Alastair needs time to turn it from two Audacity tracks into a podcast, taking out my wheezing and sneezing and the places where we stopped to talk about something else. (I haven’t heard it yet. Is the discussion we had on what a fortnight is still in there, with the crack I made about Alastair being the only human being I know who talks with footnotes? If that’s still in there, the guy’s a saint.)
Where was I? Oh, right. Fletch. I bitched long and bitterly about what Chevy Chase did to a great character, the wily, iconoclastic I. M. Fletcher, switching from smart and dedicated to a buffoon who sticks straws up his nose, and I believe I waxed eloquent on how good the books were. Then the podcast ended, and I treated myself to a re-read.
What kind of idiot was I in the seventies? Oh, wait, that’s when I was 21 and got married. So there’s been some growth since then. But honest to god, the guy sleeps with a fifteen-year-old girl who’s hooking for drug money. Never even attempts to save her. Really, I’m not a prude, but that’s statutory rape, you bastard. I read the second one, Confess, Fletch, and it has not improved with time, although Francis Xavier Flynn is still a keeper. Then I read the first Flynn book. Still liked the character, kinda, but the plot was frustrating as all hell. And that’s when I gave up on Gregory McDonald, who used to be on my keeper shelf.
Okay, so some time has passed since 1975 when the book came out, but not that much. What happened? Have things changed that much that people didn’t blink at the sex-with-the-fifteen-year-old then? The Grand Sophy is marred by anti-Semitism which is definitely a product of the time, so I just skip that part because the rest is still good. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so it is no longer my favorite Heyer. The Nero Wolfe books hold up, thank you very much, but Ellery Queen is damn near unreadable. I’m afraid to go back to Andre Norton, I loved her so.
I’m non-plussed. (Great word. I must have gotten it from Alastair.) Has this happened to you? What books? Why?
Discuss while I go get more Sudafed and Benadryl. Next topic: Allergies. WHY????????