If I spent some time with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, this is what I'd do

If I spent some time with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, this is what I'd do
Our Nero Wolf collection

Tonight is ChicagoNow’s Blogapalooz-Hour. It’s one of my favorite nights each month. Writing can be solitary work. It needn’t be, but it often is. This summer I’ve been trying to meet up with other writers so that I’m not working alone, and it’s been rewarding.

On this night, even though I am tucked into my favorite spot on the couch, I know bloggers all over the Chicago area got the prompt below and are writing a response to it. We’re not together, but we’re in parallel motion, getting a prompt at 9 p.m. and posting at 10.

So here’s our challenge: “What fictional character (or characters) would you most like to spend time with and what would you do together?” 

You can’t think too hard with this kind of assignment, so I went with my first thought. (For whatever perverse reason, my actual first thought was of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, a character and a novel that I loathe. The Brontës really needed some good therapy and a stiff drink.)

My first thought in keeping with the prompt was, however, Archie Goodwin and his boss Nero Wolfe. They are the leads in Rex Stout’s detective series that spanned the 1930s through the 1970s. Stout was born in nearby Indiana and grew up in Kansas, but you’d never know it by reading these books, which take place mostly in New York City.

Wolfe is a detective. He’s fat. He grows orchids, loves beer, is a foodie, and has a huge yellow leather chair. He does not suffer fools gladly, and he never leaves his house. His investigator, the guy who does all the foot work, is Archie, who suffers fools smugly. He’s Fred Astaire and Cary Grant and Robert Redford rolled into a romantic and funny character.

I was first introduced to the series by my husband. His family—mom, dad, brothers, and sister—all read the books. They’re a family favorite. When we were first together my husband read them aloud to me. My husband, however, is British, so all of the characters had British accents.

I love these books, and my love for them strengthens my sense of belonging in this family. The books are clever and witty. They have a darkness around the edges, but a core of lightness. Wolfe will inevitably solve the mystery and find the bad guy. Archie will take you on an adventure and make you laugh.

If I were to spend a few weeks inside these books, I’d go dancing with Archie, but I’d also be able to dance. I’d have a gown and upswept hair. I’d be wickedly funny and help Archie track down the bad guys.

Wolfe is a misogynist, but he’d love me. He’d make an exception and be charmed. I’d introduce him to a theory that would end up helping him solve the whole murder. I’d rescue him from harm, and he’d kiss me on the cheek at the end of it all.

But, mostly, I’d be graceful and dance with Archie. We’d dance the night away.

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