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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OLYMPUS, TEXAS by Stacey Swann: I've been living in Texas for two decades now and I still don't understand the mythology of Texas. So when I heard about this novel, written by a native Texan and set against a backdrop of ancient Greek mythology, I couldn't resist.

Here is a link to the interview I heard. (5 minute listen.)

The interview speaks of puzzles, which I also like, so I'll lay out some of the pieces. The patriarch and the matriarch of the Briscoe family are Peter (Zeus) and June (Juno). Their children are Thea (Athena), Hap (Hephaestus) and March (Mars). Early in their marriage, Peter was unfaithful with Lee (Leto) and had twins out of wedlock, Artie (Artemis) and Arlo (Apollo). March's two dogs, Romulus and Remus, are gimmies. Beyond that, you're on your own. 

The book takes place over the course of a week and is written in seven sections, "Friday" through "Monday." Most of the sections are supplemented with "flashback" chapters, such as "The Origin of March's Exile" or "The Origin of June's Rage" which add depth to the narrative. You don't have to be familiar with mythology to enjoy the story, but I do feel the urge to break out my mythology book to find out how closely the plot hews to the myths. 

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

My next choice is gong to be informed by my previous read. I have only two books on mythology: Bulfinch's (1855) and Edith Hamilton's (1942). I have already read the relevant parts. Next I'll be moving on to Larry McMurty's "Duane" series.

2009 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: I have (or "had") this bad habit of starting some ridiculously long reading project and petering out before I was finished. Then, when I was in the mood to delve back in, instead of picking up where I left off, I'd start over at the beginning again. Consequently, There are many book series of which I have read the opening volumes many times, but tapering off having never read the later volumes at all.

Case in Point: I first read Larry McMurty's The Last Picture Show and its sequel, Texasville, many years ago, but when Duane's Depressed came out, instead of reading it, I decided to re-read the first two first. I got only as far as the first one before my purpose cooled. Consequently, I have read The Last Picture Show twice, and Texasville once, but none of the other three. Now, if I were being completely true to my resolution, I would start this time with Duane's Depressed, but honestly, enough time has passed that I really feel the need to read Texasville again. Besides, the movie version of The Last Picture Show hews so close to the novel I feel I could just re-watch the movie if I feel I'm missing anything. 

Ah, but Bogdanovich knew what to leave out of the movie. Don't get me wrong, I love The Last Picture Show, but it's a novel by a young man and it shows.

What am I reading, he asked, hypophoracally?

Two local writers: I completed one book and have just started the second.

The second is by internationally-renown, award-winning Irish-born Canadian author, Emma Donoghue. She's most famous for Room, which was made into a movie (and should never be confused with The Room). I've really liked some of her books: Room, The Wonder, Frog Music, and the short stories in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. Others I've found well-written, but didn't much enjoy. I found her last book, Akin, a bit of a chore. Anyway, she had the strange fortune to pen a book about a pandemic just before this one hit, and The Pull of the Stars came out last year. I just opened it last night. Looks really good.

She lives local to me. I last ran into her the day before the province went into its first COVID lockdown.

The other book drew my attention because of some research I was doing for my own writing. A DJ's Spin by Dick Williams, recalls his involvement in local radio and TV from his teen years in the late 1950s/early 1960s to his eventual retirement. A very quick read that veers into smarmy, but it had some interesting and useful day-to-day information. You get a sense of the times and place, warts and all. A local publishing company published it a few years ago. Their output consisted, apparently, entirely of books by local media personalities and one by a local art professor, whom I know but have not seen in a few years (I had classes with her twin sister, years ago, and my wife, years later, enrolled in her art class out of interest). But I do run into them occasionally, without exception, together.

That local publisher has since gone under.

The ex-personality now lives in Florida.

"Ah, but Bogdanovich knew what to leave out of the movie."

I remember the the movie as being almost identical to the book... or is that Rosemary's Baby I'm thinking of? Could be Rosemary's Baby.

Rosemary's Baby adheres pretty closely to the source, though it does not show us the final, uh, issue. The novel, The Last Picture Show, includes a couple of plot developments that read more like some young guy's fantasy than anything that would reasonably happen. It also follows the boys on their trip to Tijuana. The film cuts to their return the next day.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Ah, but Bogdanovich knew what to leave out of the movie."

I remember the the movie as being almost identical to the book... or is that Rosemary's Baby I'm thinking of? Could be Rosemary's Baby.

TEXASVILLE: Olympus, Texas led me back to Thalia, TX. I'm a little over half way into Texasville my second time through. The Last Picture Show was written in 1966, takes place in 1951, and was made into a movie in 1971; Texasville was written in 1987 and was made into a movie in 1990. Most of LPS's ensemble cast returned for the sequel, but there's a bit of a cognitive disconnect as the movie takes place in the present day (or at least I had always assumed) yet the actors had aged only 20 years. The book is set in 1981, but many of the cultural references lead me to believe it's set closer to when it was published, 1987.

Setting that aside, the book is composed of short chapters, which makes it easy to continue reading. For some reason, I'm more likely to read, say, five five-page chapters in a row than one 25-page chapter. I find myself identifying more with he central character, Duane Moore who is 48 years old, today than I did when I was 26, although we have little in common than age (and living in Texas). New characters include Duane's four kids and two grandkids, who I can't wait to see grow up in the next three novels. . 

Absolute Beginners by Colin Macinnes disappointed me. He writes well, but the book, his most famous, has dated badly.

Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars is, I think, her best work since Room, and not because of its timeliness (she wrote a book set during the 1918 Flu Pandemic because the 100th anniversary was upon us. It was finalized and in the queue for publication just as COVID-19 hit). The novel covers a few significant days in the life of a nurse in Ireland, 1918, and immerses the reader in her mind and circumstances.

A good friend of mine was born and brought up in Witchita Falls, TX, close to Archer City (Larry McMurty's hometown) where The Last Picture Show was filmed. She hadn't seen the movie but had read the novel and characterized it as "everyone having sex with everyone else." I didn't remember it that way (there were two sex scenes that stood out in my memory of the book), so I read it a second time (this would have been circa 2004) and I'll be darned if she wasn't right. But Texasville? Man! Talk about everyone having sex with everyone else! 



Jeff of Earth-J said:

A good friend of mine was born and brought up in Witchita Falls, TX, close to Archer City (Larry McMurty's hometown) where The Last Picture Show was filmed. She hadn't seen the movie but had read the novel and characterized it as "everyone having sex with everyone else." I didn't remember it that way (there were two sex scenes that stood out in my memory of the book), so I read it a second time (this would have been circa 2004) and I'll be darned if she wasn't right. But Texasville? Man! Talk about everyone having sex with everyone else! 

I've driven through Archer City probably a couple of hundred times by now going visit family out further west. I had a cousin who told me about 20 years ago, the only things to do out there are: drink and screw. Maybe Larry McMurtry nailed it.

Searching For Bobby Fisher. As might be expected, the book delves much more deeply into the world of chess and chess playing minutiae than the movie.

"I've driven through Archer City probably a couple of hundred times by now going visit family out further west. I had a cousin who told me about 20 years ago, the only things to do out there are: drink and screw. Maybe Larry McMurtry nailed it."

Archer City is a place I've wanted to visit ever since moving to Texas, but I never got around to it for that very reason. Besides, even more than the movie theater, I'd want to see the pool hall, and that building is no longer standing. (In Texasville, Sonny had turned it into a video gamer arcade.) 

Have you ever driven through Anarene, TX (the ghost town eight miles south of Archer City)? Thalia (based on Archer City) was renamed "Anarene" for the movies (and Duane Moore was renamed Duane "Jackson"). 

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