Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-fifth Street

Baring-Gould, William S. Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street: the Life and Times of America’s Largest Detective. New York: Viking Press, 1969.

Reason read: Rex Stout was born in December. Read in his honor.

Right off the bat I need to tell you Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street is better read after you have consumed every Rex Stout mystery starring the portly private detective. I guarantee you will have many more ah-ha moments if you already know the cases. Baring-Gould fills his book with a mountain of facts but they are oddly assembled; a veritable mishmash of all things Nero Wolfe (and Archie Goodwin).  Everything from fashion, and facial tics to food and every case in between is scrutinized. It’s as if Baring-Gould combed the pages of every mystery, never missing a single detail, to build a character profile and biography of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
Baring-Gould also has some interesting theories. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that Baring-Gould thinks Sherlock Holmes fathered Nero Wolfe. He draws thought-provoking connections between Holmes and Wolfe, including the similar phrases they utter.

Author fact: Baring-Gould’s first claim to fame was his analysis of Sherlock Holmes. He was the editor of the Annotated Sherlock Holmes among other publications.

Book trivia: in addition to the floor plan to Wolfe’s ground floor apartment, Baring-Gould also lays out an impressive chronology of Nero Wolfe’s movements from his birth in 1892 or 1893 to The Father Hunt case in August – September of 1967.

Nancy said: Nancy recommends reading Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street… if “the Nero Wolfe bug bites you” (p 226).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe: Too Good to Miss” (p 226).


December Books

I opted out of the cutesy title for this blog because…well…I simply wasn’t in the mood to come up with anything clever. What was December all about? For the run it was a 5k that I finished in “about 30 minutes” as my running partner put it. I also ran a mile every day (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). I think I’m satisfied with that accomplishment the most because I ran even when we were traveling, even when we were completely swamped with other things going on, even when I didn’t feel like lifting a finger. Despite it all, I still ran at least one mile.

Enough of that. In addition to running I read. Here are the books finished in the month of December. For some reason I surrounded myself with some of the most depressing books imaginable:

Fiction:

    • Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – read in two lazy afternoons
    • Fay by Larry Brown – devoured in a week (super sad).
    • Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (AB/print) – confessional: I started this the last week of November fearing I wouldn’t conquer all 600 pages before 12/31/17 but I did. (again, super sad book).
    • Wanting by Richard Flanagan (really, really sad when you consider Mathinna’s fate).
    • Between the Assassinations by Avarind Adiga (sad).
    • The Beach by Alex Garland (again, sad in a weird way).
    • God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (the last of the sad books).
    • Nero Wolf of West Thirty-fifth Street: the Life and Times of America’s Largest Detective by William Stuart Baring-Gould.

Nonfiction:

  • Iron & Silk by Mark Salzman – read in three days. The only real funny book read this month.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman – read in the same weekend as Ballet Shoes.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Brain Food: the Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power by Lisa Mosconi (started).

For fun:

  • Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes by Erin Taylor.