Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Zagreb coming and going

Yesterday morning, I finished reading Over My Dead Body, a Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin mystery by Rex Stout. The copyrights in my copy are 1939, 1940, 1968.

In addition to the priceless narrative by the incomparable Archie (can you tell I'm a fan?), and the sometimes wild plot twists (which I won't mention, so as to not spoil your fun if you read the book), what struck me about this book is that the author painted such a clear picture of Europe in trouble, and put in his two cents' worth about useful idiots running around doing stupid things and thinking they were making history. It lies underneath the plot, but it's there all the same, functioning, I think, as both a call for sanity in insane times and a warning or reminder that ruthless people bent on their own goals exist and must be dealt with.

Over My Dead Body
Over My Dead Body

Rex Stout, for that matter, was a crusader against Nazis both in fiction and in real life, and he got in a few salvos in this book, again without burying the story in messages.

But here's the funny part. This book features a couple of characters who have come to America from Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Part of the story hinges on Nero Wolfe having been there in his younger days.

So, last night, after work was done and just before going to bed I finally finished watching Fiddler on the Roof on DVD (I've been watching it in stages). And when the credits rolled, what did I see but that it was filmed to a significant degree at Zagreb, Yugoslavia...

I don't know about you, but this is not a city that comes to my mind very often, if ever. And there it was, starting my day and ending it, too. These days, I might mention, it has become Zagreb, Croatia.

Fiddler on the Roof, I might add, is one of those movies that makes clear how much I've changed over the years. I'm sure when I watched it when I was young that I picked up on different things, cheered where I don't cheer now, liked different characters and for different reasons. And, doggone it, how did the daughters get younger with the passage of time? I look at them now and think how incredibly young they look. I'm sure that when I was more or less their age, they looked all grown up. (Sigh.)


Bookworm said...

What an excellent suggestion for a good read. Thanks.

reader_iam said...

Aren't the Nero Wolfe book just great? The "wear" really well, too. And I LOVE, LOVE Archie.

LOL about the de-aging Fiddler girls. I notice that all of the time now, when I watch the oldies-but-goodies (even -baddies; well, even -not-so-goodies).


reader_iam said...

That sort of "coincidence" is one of things that convinced me that there really is an overall unity, which we're too puny to see, much less understand.

Kathryn Judson said...

Bookworm, This isn't the best Nero Wolfe book out there, but it is a good read. One thing about the series, the more you read the more you pick up on the fantastic interplay between the different recurring characters (this is not to mention that once you feel like an insider on any book series, it's always more fun ;-). And, as reader iam points out, these are books that wear very well. They are set in their time, but aren't wedged there, I guess you could say.

reader iam, I'll second you on Archie ;-). And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one seeing de-aging processes going on in classic movies. I know my elders used to tell me it would happen, but it still came as something of a shock when it began actually happening...