I’m a sucker for stories, and especially for mysteries.
If I’m walking through a room where somebody’s watching an episode of, say, Law and Order, and I happen to see the first few minutes (in other words, the discovery of a puzzling death or murder), it takes superhuman self-control not to pause for a few minutes more — and then end up watching the whole hour.
A waste of time, I know. But, somehow, riveting.
And, over the years, I’ve noticed a lot of interviews with leading politicians and scientists who confess that they, too, love mystery novels. And stories, generally. The German-language adventure novels of Karl Friedrich May (d. 1912), many of them Westerns, continue to have a wide readership, which, in the past, has included such diverse notables as Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, and Adolf Hitler.
My favorite high priests group meetings have been those occasions where a member of the group has told his life story. I continually learn interesting things about my friends and neighbors of which I had had no previous idea. They’ve traveled to places and done things and experienced tragedies and triumphs of which I had no prior inkling. There is, I’m convinced, nobody who isn’t interesting.
Anyhow, my latest guilty pleasure is a three-season Spanish series called Gran Hotel (which appears on Netflix with English subtitles as Grand Hotel). Set at the very start of the 1900s and featuring Yon González and Amaia Salamanca, whom my wife considers one of the most beautiful women she has ever seen (and it would be churlish and unchivalrous on my part to disagree), it’s something of a cross between Downton Abbey and David Suchet’s series of Hercule Poirot mysteries. (My wife lured me into this one, just as she did Downton Abbey itself.)
Anyway. A waste of time, and a lot of fun. Cliff hanger after cliff hanger. And way to unwind late at night, and to shut down more serious pursuits for the day.
Why mysteries, in particular? Perhaps it’s an innate desire to figure out why and how things have happened, to know the backstory. It is, I think, not unrelated (in my case, anyway) to my love of history, my passion for etymologies, and my great interest in historical geology. How did things come to be the way they are? Endlessly fascinating. And every story features elements of interest.