It’s a funny thing about friends. Once you’ve made them, it’s very hard to unmake them.
I had no idea when this little project began, that I would grow so surprisingly fond of you, Charlie, in spite of the fact that you’re dead. Yes, you cheated on your wife, and maybe you weren’t the world’s greatest dad, and you were so racist as to make me want to go all Chuck Norris on you in a dark alley. But you were also intelligent, curious, observant, witty as all heck, and genuinely cared about calling attention to and righting the social evils of your time.
Having befriended you, Charlie, it’s hard to turn around now and say “alright, dead Victorian white dude, your year is up. Back into the ether you go.” You’re not going to be easy to get rid of. Not that I want to.
Maybe it would be easier if you’d actually finished Edwin Drood. As it is, however, there will always be a small portion of my brain spinning out possible endings. I really tried to remain aloof as I read, knowing that it was unfinished and not wanting to get too invested. But noooo, I had to go and get into the damn thing. Why’d you have to make John Jasper such an incredibly interesting character? I want to know what tales he’ll tell under the spell of his opium addiction. I want to know if he killed Edwin or if, like Bradley Headstone, he merely left his victim for dead. Or maybe he didn’t kill his nephew at all, or someone else did, or the whole thing is an elaborate set-up on your part (although, knowing you, I kind of doubt it). And then I start to wonder what parts the opium-selling woman and the slightly mysterious white-haired stranger would have played in the unfolding drama, and who else was waiting in the wings to add their story to the mix. I don’t even know if this was going to be a one- or two-volume story, so I don’t know how much was still to come!
Oh, Charlie, why’d you have to go and die??
My (small) consolation is that whoever put this edition together, whatever their other faults, were clever enough to make sure that this final volume ended, not on the mother of all cliffhangers, but with Master Humphrey’s Clock, which throws us back to the 1840s, almost to the beginning of our time together. It’s definitely helping to soothe these frustrated thoughts. I’ve already been cheered by the most intricately framed tale I’ve ever read – the tragic love story of an Elizabethan apprentice as told in a story about two statues coming to life, as told by a deaf gentleman, whose manuscript Master Humphrey dug out of his old clock. Good lord, man!
But it’s nice to imagine walking into a cozy old room with a gently ticking clock, and sitting down next to old Master Humphrey to listen to a few good, old fashioned stories. I imagine that this is how you envisioned spending your old age, before all the popularity, public readings, train wrecks and infidelity made your hectic life what it became. I’m glad you got to experience it in fiction, even if you never had the chance to enjoy it in reality. Oh man, I’m getting all misty now.
OK, on to lighter topics.
I must confess that I don’t have a plan. Stopping this blog dead seems a little harsh, especially since you now seem to pop up with great regularity on the interwebz and in reality, and I might like to write to you about things like your biographies, related books, or more ugly Pickwick pottery. And I want to post the infographic I’ve been working on as soon as it’s finished. So let’s not do anything rash and just see how this develops, shall we?
This is definitely NOT goodbye, my friend.