Thursday, January 12, 2017

Brad Ricca's "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes"

Brad Ricca is the author of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes and Super Boys, winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction and the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Mrs. Sherlock Holmes and reported the following:
“The girl died in the hospital. It had all been too much for her. As her father wept over her, she looked like an angel lit by white light.”

Just a note: this line is not a spoiler for the book, or to the central mystery of it, but it is definitely indicative of the whole. The line is actually a description of a 1913 Lois Weber film called Traffic in Souls that was about the so-called ‘white slavery epidemic’ whereby young women were kidnapped or coerced into lives of prostitution. The movie was scandalous, but also immensely popular, playing in an unprecedented twenty theaters at once in New York City alone.

From my perspective, the quote proves the Test true because though the scene is incredibly sad and emotional, it is also fictional and melodramatic. This is one of the very central questions I hope the book sparks in people. Missing girls are unfortunately a real phenomenon – but what role does the media continue to play in our encountering of the problem? Is this sort of storytelling sexist, obnoxious, or simply untrue? At the same time, the emotions evoked by the film are absolutely real (people wept in the theater), so is a fictional scene like this one actually helping to inspire change in a way? These are questions that I hope people think about.
Visit Brad Ricca's website.

--Marshal Zeringue