Entries to Win Afghan

Sign up to receive the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter. Comes out occasionally. No spam. No list swapping. Just email me! jhyshark@gmail.com Previous gifts include a short story, a poem, and coupons. Add your name, and don't miss out!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Tidbits from Nero Wolfe

  Today I reread one of my favorite of the Nero Wolfe books, The League of Frightened Men. It's the second book written in the series, copyright 1936. You might think it wouldn't hold up very well, given that date. However, making allowances for changes in technical crime detection, the books are fine due to the fact that they have more to do with reasoning than CSI-type solutions. This one is a complex story, and it's almost a psycho-drama.

Much to my delight, I discovered that this book is the source of the essence of something I now say all the time to authors and would-be authors. Nero Wolfe is speaking. Here's the quote:
Take the art of writing. I am, let us say, describing the actions of my hero rushing to greet his beloved, who has just entered the forest. He sprang up from the log on which he had been sitting, with his left foot forward; as he did so, one leg of his trousers fell properly into place but the other remained hitched up at the knee. He began running towards her, first his right foot, then his left, then his right again, then left, right, left, right, left, right...As you see, some of that can surely be left out-- indeed, must be, if he is to accomplish his welcoming embrace in the same chapter. So the artist must leave out vastly more than he puts in, and one of his chief cares is to leave out nothing that is vital to his work.

I also found two more interesting words. You'd think that since I've read these books numerous times I would have remembered these, but perhaps I was more interested in reading the story than looking up words.

The first is debar. Here's the sentence. "A man may debar nonsense from his library of reason, but not from the arena of his impulses." This is another of those goofy words that means the same whether you say bar or debar (like flammable and inflammable). They both mean to hinder or exclude.

The second is vicar. I did not know it could be used this way. Here's the sentence, "Emotionally he is infantile— he even prefers a vicar or a substitute, when the original object is unattainable..." Yes, it has the same root as vicariously, and the vicar who serves a parish. The root means "that which represents something else." A vicar in a church represents the bishop or pope, and to experience something vicariously is to accept a feeling or event in place of the "real thing."

I love words!

In other news, I continued with sorting. Here is one sucess on that front. All our VCR tapes are sorted by category. Some or all will be taken away by a friend who can still watch them in a few days. The rest will go to Goodwill.
VCR tapes

This is the box that sort of hurts to let go. We taped 330 of the 331 episodes (because the VCR malfunctioned) of the TV series ER. Yes from 1994- 2009. You can pay to watch them through various channels, but they are not yet free on YouTube. But we haven't had a functional VCR player for years, so it seems pointless to keep them.

There are just a few family tapes that we will try to have digitized to save. There are some of Steve wrestling and a couple of Omer's mom.

See A Bunny Trail to a Treasure


Doug said...

I've been enjoying reading some old Nero Wolfe books I got from my grandfather. Very old with original dust jackets. Also have a bunch of Earl Stanley Gardner books from grandpa's collection. I think he was in some mystery book of the month club back in the 50's or early 60's.

Sharkbytes said...

Doug- Cool! I also have all the ESG Perry Mason, Bertha Cool, and Doug Selby mysteries plus a few standalone volumes he wrote.

The Oceanside Animals said...

Lulu: "Wow, that sure is a lot of episodes of ER! Our Mimmier used to watch it and she used to say that the Noah Wylie character reminded her of our Dada."
Java Bean: "Really?"
Lulu: "Well our Dada was younger then. Now he would probably remind her more of the Anthony Edwards character ..."
Charlee: "Speaking of our Dada, he says you can always rely on Nero Wolfe to throw interesting words at you! As well as our Dada's favorite-ever description of how to pronounce things in French!"