Just bringing this discussion over to ning...

What books are you reading right now that don't have a narrative driven by images as well as words?

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Finally following up on Rich Lane and other's suggestion and reading To Kill a Mockingbird.
I just stared reading "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie".

A "cozy mystery" set in post-war England stars a 11 year old amateur detective. Left to her own devices by her widowed father and her older sisters, Flavia spends most of her days experimenting with the chemistry set left behind by her mother. She is peculiar but likeable kid, who becomes preoccupied with finding out why a dead body showed up in their backyard cucumber garden.

I only just started it, but I am very charmed...
I’ve just finished Dead Witness: Best Australian Mystery Stories, edited by Stephen Knight. Mostly these are stories by Australians (or immigrants), but a couple are merely set in Australia. The contents include

W.W. (=Mary Fortune), “The Dead Witness or, the Bush and the Waterhole” 1866
James Skipp Borlase, “The Night Fossickers of Moonlight Flat”
Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Gully of Bluemansdyke” 1881
Hume Nisbet, “The Haunted Station” 1894
L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace, “The Secret of Emu Plain” 1898
Ernest Favenc, “My Only Murder” 1899
E.W. Hornung, “Le Premier Pas”
Barbara Baynton “The Chosen Vessel” 1901
Rolf Boldrewood “The Mailman’s Yarn” 1901
Randolf Bedford “The Bardoc Finn” 1911
Alan Michaelis “The Strath Creek Mystery” 1933
A.E. Martin “The Power of the Leaf” 1950
Murray Innes “The Jealousy of Stephen Snow” 1937
Arthur W. Upfield “Wisp of Wool and Disc of Silver” 1979 (posthumously)
Peter Corris “Heroin Annie” 1984
Jennifer Rowe “Death in Ruby” 1987

The dates are from the introduction. In some cases the introduction dates the stories by their first book publications without being clear as to whether they had previously appeared in periodicals.

Mike Grost thinks the work of the first two authors was known to Conan Doyle. Fortune’s story was a contribution to a series mostly written by Borlase. Apparently she also wrote a series about her own detective. The Doyle story is one of his pre-Holmes tales. These are fairly realistic tales of crime or murder in the rural Australia of the time. I found them of mainly historical interest.

The Nisbet tale is a ghost story.

The Meade and Eustace story features their detective John Bell, and is like their other stories with this character in that it involves possibly supernatural events which ultimately have a natural explanation. This was a competition story, with readers being asked to supply a solution. The authors’ own solution is weak.

Favenc’s story is slyly comic, and I found it very charming.

Hornung’s story is one of his Raffles tales.

Baynton’s story is a psychological drama about a isolated woman with a sardonic final section.

Boldrewood was the author of the bushranger novel Robbery Under Arms. This tale is a mail-carrier’s story of how he spotted some men disposing of a body one night, and how they were caught.

Bedford’s story is from his collection Billy Pagan, Mining Engineer. In this tale the title character unravels the fact of a murder through Holmes-like close attention to detail and deduction.

Michaelis’s story is from a series patterned after the Holmes tales, featuring a detective called Colonel Ingram. I couldn’t say the story is more than OK, but I enjoyed it for the familiarity of its Victorian country setting.

Martin’s tale is set among pre-contact Aboriginals. I like this idea for a story, but I didn’t think Martin pulled it off well. Martin also wrote detective novels.

Innes’s story, from his collection Cosgrove, Detective, is mostly told from the criminal’s point of view, and is fairly slight.

Upfield’s story features his series character Bony, a proud and erudite part-Aboriginal detective. I’ve previously read Upfield’s novel Man of Two Tribes. This is an interesting mystery with a weak solution and a really striking description of a journey across a desert. Reportedly the present tale was Upfield’s only short story. It turns on the same murder technique as his novel The Sands of Windee, which I haven’t read, but I can’t clarify it’s relationship to the novel.

Peter Corris’s story is a modern PI tale. Rowe’s story involves her reporter character’s unravelling of what’s really happened out on an isolated, drought-stricken farm.
After a little break for some other stuff, I'm up to Synthetic Men of Mars. Another week or so and I'll have finished my re-read (for most of it, for the first time in 30 years) of the Mars series. Not sure what I'm in the mood for next.
I've just finished Damnation Alley, a short novel by Roger Zelazny. A movie version, which I haven't seen, came out in 1977. In the novel a nuclear war has left much of the former United States a dangerous wasteland. A bikie is made to transport a plague cure from California to Boston. The story is obviously the inspiration of the storyline "The Cursed Earth" from the Judge Dredd series, which I think I already knew. In addition it looks to me like the hero, Hell Tanner, was possibly the model for Snake Plissken from Escape from New York.
I'm finally reading The DaVinci Code. I think I've actually avoided spoilers all this time, amazingly enough. Brown's not a great stylist, but his plotting is good.
The Ashio Riot of 1907, by Nimura Kazuo. The subtitle is "A Social History of Mining in Japan". Essentially, it deals with an incident at a copper mine about 50 miles or so north of Tokyo, and how the incident reflects the early development of the labor movement in Meiji Era Japan.
Luke Blanchard said:
I've just finished Damnation Alley, a short novel by Roger Zelazny. A movie version, which I haven't seen, came out in 1977. In the novel a nuclear war has left much of the former United States a dangerous wasteland. A bikie is made to transport a plague cure from California to Boston. The story is obviously the inspiration of the storyline "The Cursed Earth" from the Judge Dredd series, which I think I already knew. In addition it looks to me like the hero, Hell Tanner, was possibly the model for Snake Plissken from Escape from New York.

I've never read the book, but I did see the film on TV ages ago. As I recall, George Peppard was in it, and it involved a team of people going across country after a nuclear war in a sort of armored Plymouth Voyager, trying to get to some alleged safe place.

The only line I remember from the movie - and I can hear it in my head, even now - is from a scene where they went into a house and were attacked by man-eating insects. Thirty years later, I can still hear George Peppard saying - in a really atrocious Southern aceent - "The whole place is full of killer cockroaches!"

To the best of my recollection, it was an OK B-movie, but I do remember that even at the time (and I was much less discriminating back then) I thought that the ending was a really implausible deus ex machina. Probably it would be an OK watch if you and some of your buddies wanted to have a few frosties and MST the thing.
Just started reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. So far, I'm enjoying this strange mix of alternative history and police procedural.
Rob Staeger said:
Just started reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. So far, I'm enjoying this strange mix of alternative history and police procedural.

That's a good one. I keep hoping that, when the Coen brothers do the movie, they'll film it in Yiddish with English subtitles...but I'm not holding my breath.
I'm in the midst of reading "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire. It's far better than I expected it to be. Truly been delightful.
Alan M. said:
Rob Staeger said:
Just started reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. So far, I'm enjoying this strange mix of alternative history and police procedural.

That's a good one. I keep hoping that, when the Coen brothers do the movie, they'll film it in Yiddish with English subtitles...but I'm not holding my breath.

Oh, tight -- I'd forgotten the Coens were slated to adapt it. I guess that'll be after their remake of True Grit?

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