Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: ‘A Toast to Nero Wolfe, & ‘A Stay at Home Intro’

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: ‘A Toast to Nero Wolfe, & ‘A Stay at Home Intro’

Last week I gave a big recap of April’s Wolfe Pack gathering at the Greenbrier Resort, in West Virginia. Too Many Cooks, the fifth Wolfe novel, takes place at Kanawha Spa. Kanawha is essentially the Greenbrier, and that’s why the Wolfe Pack has a fun weekend there every five-ish years. This was the fifth of those, and my first.

As I mentioned last week, I gave a toast to Nero Wolfe at the Friday Night (American) Dinner. The whole gathering was run by the Wolfe Pack Wereowance, Ira Matesky. He kindly let me hand out a printed copy of my Stay at Home Series, to the attendees, as a perk.

You can read the entire Stay at Home series here at Black Gate – no charge. :-). Just click on the links at the end of this post. I recommend reading them in order – it will definitely make more sense.

I was tabbed late for the honor (‘That Byrne guy? His posts make sense most of the time. Get him to do it”). So, I wrote the entire speech the day I arrived, sitting on this sofa in the North Parlor (I called it the piano room. I had a couple more pics of it in last week’s post).

I didn’t have an Archie with me, so it’s good that no one took a shot at me through the windows, from the balcony. Though I’d like to think I didn’t annoy anyone THAT much in my short time there. The comments under this post may disabuse me of that notion…

My toast was related to the Stay at Home series, in looking at Nero Wolfe and the Brownstone as something timeless, while the times around us changed. During the Pandemic, dramatically.

A Toast To Nero Wolfe (2024)

The world changes, but Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin remain timeless

Routines and patterns are sacrosanct in Wolfe’s domain.

Wars, they come and go

While Archie aids the genius, using his intelligence guided by experience.

Men may set foot on the moon

Still Fritz fries no eggs in his copper pans.

The Giants abandon Coogan’s Bluff, and then the Mets invade Flushing

And on the roof, Theodore babies Wolfe as much as he does the 10,000 orchids.

Presidents are killed, or resign

Still Archie badgers Wolfe into replenishing the bank balance.

The elevator will strain under Wolfe’s seventh of-a-ton

At 11 and 6, every day but Sunday.

There will be shad roe in season. Some might say, too much shad roe…

No work talk at the table, coffee in the office after dinner

It will be ‘office’ during the day, ‘residence’ after hours.

We live in a world of change, disorder, chaos

But we find a comfortable familiarity at West 35th Street.

A Pandemic locks down the world

While Nero Wolfe reads at his desk in the ONLY chair that truly fits him.

Archie still takes his walks through oddly quiet city streets

While fretting over a milk shortage.

Fritz still does wonders in the kitchen, though ingredients may be scarce

A book is till not a keeper if Wolfe folds a page corner as a bookmark.

The world may change in near-cataclysmic fashion

But Nero Wolfe remains unperturbed

To make exceptions obviates the schedule.

To borrow from Sam Peckinpah, the Brownstone is populated by unchanging men in unchanging times

It is a bastion of certainty in uncertain days.

Tonight we offer a toast to the man who makes Mycroft Holmes look like a wandering vagabond

To the man who can spin a globe, but will never travel it

To the man who remains timeless in changing times.

Lift your glass to NERO WOLFE.

 

Stay at Home – A New Entry in 2024

Being firmly entrenched as a blogger at the World Fantasy Award-winning website, BlackGate.com, I associate with quit a few Writers. The ones with a capital ‘W.’ I’m still lower case ‘w’, but I do have enough ego to hope my stuff is liked here and there.

As I mentioned last week, and above, I handed out physical copies of my Nero Wolfe Stay at Home series. That series is available free online in a couple places (as mentioned below). For the document, I wrote an Introduction, and also a final entry to actually close out the series.

I wanted to share the Intro in this ‘Toast Post.’ With a job hunt and a divorce, I had a rough Pandemic. Creating my own new memories of life in the Brownstone for Archie during the Lockdown, was often my only feeling of normalcy in a life turned upside down. It was my lifeline to some type of reality. And I shared it with my fellow Wolfe fans, dealing with their own altered world of the Pandemic.

That’s what I tried to capture when I wrote this Intro for the handout at The Wolfe Pack gathering. You can find all the Stay at Home entries here, should this Intro grab you enough to want to read about it. I hope you do.

Stay at Home – An Introduction

So, last year, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the Facebook Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann.

That was the daily introduction for a series of posts I did over at the World Fantasy Award-winning website where I blog: BlackGate.com. I roam all over the place, but I’m ostensibly the in-house mystery guy. And along with Sherlock Holmes, that absolutely includes a gargantuan dose of Wolfe-related posts; fiction and non-fiction.

It doesn’t take Nero Wolfe’s genius to state that 2020 was quite a year. We all had our burdens to bear. For me, resigning from my high-stress job (I was fiscal officer for a government agency with a $60 million budget) one month before a global Pandemic hit, along with a separation leading to divorce, resulted in the Pandemic usually being only the third or fourth-biggest concern I dealt with daily.

I live in Ohio, where Governor Mike DeWine took decisive action. On March 15, the first significant order (regarding restaurants and bars) was issued. The polls were closed hours before the start of the Primary Election on March 17, and a full Stay at Home order was issued March 22. It happened fast! I am a government finance guy and got a temp job at a local County agency.

Archie told us that voting was one thing Wolfe was always willing to leave the house for. I was at my work computer, reading about our Election Day unraveling. And I thought about how Wolfe would react.

If you see my posts in the Wolfe Pack Facebook group, you may have noticed that I write ‘scenes.’ Usually it’s when I need a stress break during my lunch in the office. And more often than not, it’s something involving Archie. I really enjoy channeling him. So, at lunchtime, I wrote a scene as if voting day had been canceled in NYC. You can find that at the end of this book.

I continued going in to the office as I watched the regular employees pack up their computers and begin working from home. I had the normalcy of neither home nor work to help me cope with this new, world-changing, Pandemic. So, on March 22, I spent my lunchtime writing about what life would be like for Archie, stuck in the Brownstone with Wolfe. The horror!

I would finish it up as necessary after work, and then post a daily entry on the Wolfe Pack FB page that evening. I received kind words and positive feedback from the group, which I appreciated. It helped me feel connected with people as the world blew up all around us. I averaged about a thousand words a day, for forty-three consecutive days! Burned out, I finally took day forty-four off. I would do five more entries over the next eleven days, before finally stopping the series.

We share a bond through our love of Stout’s stories. And I can tell you that this community is a lot less divisive than the Sherlock Holmes one (which many of us are a part of). I got through the toughest time in my entire life, by imagining Archie living in ‘my’ upside-down world, and writing about it in his voice. And sharing it with fellow Wolfe fans.

This is the first time this FB series has been collected in print. Along with this intro, I’ve added a final entry, providing some closure. I hope you enjoy it. You’ll find some names from the past, such as Bill Gore (find out why Wolfe stopped using him) and George Henry Parker. There’s even a guest appearance from a supporting character in my favorite Black Mask series from the forties. Of course, the usual suspects are present, along with an evening routine which Archie and Fritz developed. I leave it to you to decide whether Wolfe declined to participate, or simply wasn’t invited.

And remember that the Corpus is something that can bind us together, even if we argue a bit on FB. I prefer my Wolfe solving cases in the thirties through the sixties (I like to work in Archie and the New York Mets once in awhile). I tried to minimize the ‘2020 effect’ on the stories, while being true to the COVID world we found ourselves in.

I’ve begun reworking some parts to take place during the Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957-1958. So, some of this will be presented in a more traditional light. But hopefully, you’ll find this satisfactory. Dare I hope, occasionally very satisfactory.

Stay at Home

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 1 and 2
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 3 and 4
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 5, 6, and 7
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 8, 9, and 10
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 11, 12, and 13
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home Days 14 and 15
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home Days 16 and 17
Nero Wolfe’s Browsnstone: Stay at Home – Days 18 and 19
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 20 and 21
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 22 and 23
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 24 and 25
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 26
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 27
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 28 and 29
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 30
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 31
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 32 and 33
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 34 and 35
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 36
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 37
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 38
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 39
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 40 & 41
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 42 & 43
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 45 & 46
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 50 and 52
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 55

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone

Meet Nero Wolfe
The R-Rated Nero Wolfe
Radio & Screen Wolfe
A&E’s ‘A Nero Wolfe Mystery’
The Lost 1959 Pilot
The Mets in “Please Pass the Guilt”
A Matter of Identity (original story)
Death of a Doxy; and Koufax or Mays?
Hercule Poirot Visits Nero Wolfe
I Know that Actor!
The Big Store (Wolf J. Flywheel)
Welcome to Kanawha Spa – The Wolfe Pack 2024 Greenbrier Weekend

3 Good Reasons

3 Good Reasons – ‘Not Quite Dead Enough’
3 Good Reasons – ‘Murder is Corny’
3 Good Reasons – ‘Immune to Murder’
3 Good Reason – ‘Booby Trap’

The Greenstreet Chronicles (Pastiches based on the Radio Show)

Stamped for Murder

The Careworn Cuff – Part One
The Careworn Cuff – Part Two
The Careworn Cuff – Part Three


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Bob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made its Black Gate debut in 2018 and has returned every summer since.

His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.

He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series. Which is now part of THE Definitive guide to Conan. He also organized 2023’s ‘Talking Tolkien.’

He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI, XXI, and XXXIII.

He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.

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