October 25th, 2013

Village Books Open Mic Reading

Here is a link to the story I hope to read part of at Laurel Leigh’s Village Books Open Mic on October 28, which I call Lunchus Interuptus. The story is written using characters created by Rex Stout in his Nero Wolfe series of detective stories, although I suppose I could not help slipping in some of my personality. I admit that it is impertinent to steal from Grand Master Stout–but he is dead and my writers group (TPWG, The Private Writers Group) has read this story and said nice things. I’ve scrubbed it up some since the group read it, and now I intend to read a couple pages to the open mic. If I have done my job well, the listeners will want to read the rest of the story, so it is posted here. If they don’t want to read it, I will have learned something important. I hate to learn, but life insists on it.

Rex Stout started writing the Nero Wolfe mysteries in the 1930s and he continued until he died in 1975. He created a repertoire of characters that appear in most of the novels and stories: Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, Fergus Cramer, Fritz Brenner, Saul Panzer, Lily Rowan, and more. Part of Stout’s charm is the comfortable familiarity he created in setting and characters.

I like to think of Stout’s characters as deep caricatures–akin to both Bertie Wooster and Philip Marlowe. They are more realistic than a burlesque, but magnified beyond life; often comic, but facing deeply serious issues.The putative main character, Nero Wolfe, is a lazy and reluctant genius whom Archie must goad into action. Somewhere buried in his seventh of a ton planted in a custom-built chair, Wolfe is a mortally wounded hero, and I believe his wounds draw us to him. Archie, the true center of the stories, is a wise-cracking squire who does Wolfe’s leg work, but will not face his own quest until Wolfe’s wounds are resolved and Archie is set free.

A&E produced a Nero Wolfe television series from 2001 to 2002 starring Timothy Hutton and Maury Chaykin. There have been several radio, movie, and television productions based on Nero Wolfe, but I like the A&E series best. It’s as faithful as television ever is to the original and the sets are Merchant Ivory gorgeous. I recommend seeing it if you have a chance. There is a DVD set of the entire two seasons. There was a Canadian CBC radio series that is good listening, but it is hard to find.


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