the Fiction Past
This month we are going to look Behind the Fiction of Novels
When going down a
list of subjects to present for the column, my eye caught the one type
of writing that truly impresses me. Don't get me wrong all writing impresses
me. As far as I'm concerned all writers are under paid and under valued,
but this type of writing is truly unique. I am speaking of the Novel
in Verse, which is a group of rhyming sonnets put together to create
a storyline. They are most often accompanied by illustrations. If extensive,
they can demand some serious concentration. You will find them in all
genres and most age levels, from literary fiction to Sci- Fi and Mystery.
Some are contemporary and some date centuries back. There is a vast audience
for this type of reading. I hope once you leave this page, you seek out
one or two out and experience the novel in verse for yourself.
My favorite novels
in verse are two mysteries - Send Bygraves by Martha
Grimes and Jack, The Lady Killer by H. R. F. Keating.
Below you will find an samples of both along with
One day I mentioned
in passing what I was working on and my daughter, whom I had recently
had a British lit class with, in her "duh, mom voice" said,
Beowulf? British Lit? She is right, but, honestly, since that particular
epic was continually mingled with the rambling of the professor's personal
life and her ancestry discoveries I never really did get into the story,
so I will move on to those I did. Below are some recommendations
of Novels in Verse. Click on the titles that interest you and you
will be taken to each book's page at Amazon.Com where you can learn more
Wild Party by Joseph M. March
was a blonde, and her age stood still,
And she danced twice a day in vaudeville.
Lips like coals aglow.
Her face was a tinted mask of snow.
Furnished like a third-act passion set:
They owed two months on the rental.
by Anne Carson
A little button
at the end of each range activated the fluorescent track above
A yellowing 5 x 7 index card
Scotch-taped below each button said EXTINGUISH LIGHT WHEN NOT
Geryon went flickering
through the ranges like a bit of mercury flipping the switches
on and off.
The librarians thought him
a talented boy with a shadow side.
Bygraves by Martha Grimes
We're a decent
lot. We cause no trouble.
(That Spot of bother with the poisoned dogs
At Smyth-Montcrieff's? We'd nothing to do with that!)
You standing, Sergeant? Ah, thank you, I'll have a Double
Diamond. Jameson on the side. That fog's
Thick as pea soup ihnit? I'll tell you flat:
We don't' much like the Yard nosing about
In little Puddley. Keeping ourselves to ourselves,
We do. We've nothing to hide. We're a decent lot.
Gate by Vikram Seth
The old folks
settle down with books:
He with Tom Jones, she with a thriller
Entitled Jack the Lady-Killer.
Lady Killer by H. R. F. Keating
the Lady Killer, there's
My title, chosen for this tale.
A tribute, bold, from one who dares
Follow a poet (will I fail?)
Of sparkling wit and dazzling rhyme.
But, as for me, I'll stick to crime.
Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate,
My quote's from that. If not quite straight,
it holds my plot in embryo.
But where to set my nascent verse?
Answer: yes, I can't do worse
than India. So, there I'll go,
back to my old stamping ground.
But with a yesteryear sleuthhound.
THE LADY KILLER by Keating, H. R. F.
Poisoned Pen Press December 1999
Historical Mystery in Verse (Poem)
Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks, MyShelf.com
(H. R. F. Keating also writes the Inspector Ghote mystery
series set in India.)
Jack, The Lady Killer is an unusual mystery because
its written in verse with illustrations. The first mystery I read
in verse was Martha Grimes, Send Bygraves, and I have been a
fan of this unique style of story telling ever since. I am thrilled
to say H.R.F. Keatings mystery in verse was just as unique and
fun to read as Send Bygraves.
Mr. Keating gives the author Vikram Seth credit for inspiring
him after he read his verse novel THE GOLDEN GATE. He even quotes a
verse of Vikram Seths at the beginning of this mystery and I think
those in the publishing business will get a kick out of it.
Mr. Keatings mystery takes place in 1935. Jack Steele,
a new recruit to the Imperial Police Service in India is sent to take
care of a panicked elephant. While hes gone someone murders widow
Milly Marchbanks. With the District Superintendent in hospital Jack
finds himself working the crime. A witness, a boy named Little
Brown Gramophone tells Jack that just before Milly died she cried,
No, Jack, no! So searching for a member of the Briton Club named
Jack should seem easy . . . but it isnt. The author takes the
reader through the suspects, clues and emotions of Jack in verse.
If you havent experienced a verse novel or mystery,
you have to try one.
Golden Gate by Vikram
Seth is 690 sonnets about California yuppies created read
Onegin (Bollingen Series, 72) by Aleksandr
Sergeevich Pushkin and translated by James E. Falen is a historical
novel set during the 1820s in Russia. It follows the fate of three
men and three women. It has a large cast of characters and offers
plenty of literary, philosophical and autobiographical excursions.
Neptune by Les
A. Murray is about an Australian named Friedrich Boettcher
who fights aboard a German battleship during WWI, journeys from
the Holy Land to Africa to America to the Far East and back to
Australia. He sees much and it's expressed in the poerty.
by Tim McLaurin is a literary novel in verse. It's about how a
single father's death affects those around him. Point of view
is from his children - one, Lola, being Mentally handicap.
Walcott is a literary, mythological saga. Omeros is Greek
for Homer. It's about the idea of Homer and the idea of poetry
written on a Homeric scale. A story of exile and wandering.
Juan - Lord
Byron by George Gordon Byron is fiction novel in verse. A
mock-epic of love, politics, passion and satire.
of Earth by Ian M. Emberson is another novel in verse.
Wild Party: The Lost Classic written by Joseph M. March. Drawings
by Art Spiegelman. First published in 1928, this novel in verse
is about love, relationships, and sexual adventures.
North by Fred Johnston is a Military type Irish novel in verse
that takes place in the 1940s and WWII.
Reckoning by Haxton
Brooks is a novel in verse about a Vietnam veteran, drug addiction,
and a staff cover up when the lead character escapes the hospital.
of Christopher Columbus, Vol. 1 by Rejean Ducharme is about
Columbia Columbus the daughter of Christopher Columbus. She wanders
the world in search of friendship after her father dies.
Quickshot: A Comic Novel in Verse by William F. Van Wert is
a modern day tale of Don Quixote. The lead character, Don Quickshot,
is a Mafia Don. He has a sidekick, Pedre. The story takes place
in South America. There is plenty of pusn, literay allusion and
satire to entertain readers.
and Ludmilla by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin, Nancy Dargel
Landscapes from My Country by Nazim Hikmet is an epic novel
Sea written by Israeli author Amos Oz is an unusual novel
in verse with characters that speak to their author. It's about
love, eroticism, loyalty and betrayal. It's a bit different.
Queen by Emily J. Bronte
of Red by Anne Carson is a contemporary version of the myth
of Geryon and Herakles. Geryon is a red winged monster.
by Jules Rothenstein
: The Home Movie by Craig Raine chronicles the author's family
tree from 1906-1984. The renowned British poet follows the stories
of the Pasternak and Raine families, citing how the history of
the twentieth century has shaped them and describing their influences
on each other.
New Bath Guide or Memoirs of the B--R--D Family (1766) by
British author Christopher Anstey is a satire on various aspects
of Bath life.
Folding Cliffs: A Narrative by W. S. Merwin is a 19th century
verse narrative about the tragic history of Hawaii; how it was
invaded and how it handle leprosy.
to Young Adult
by Juan Felipe Herrera is a young adult novel in verse. Taken
from the the author's own life as well as a lifetime of dedication
to young people, this one shows readers what it's like to be
a teen, a student, a migrant worker in California. Awarded the
Best Poetry Book (English) by the Latino Literary Hall of Fame
(June 2000). Winner of the 1999 Americas Award for Children's
and Young Adult Literature. Finalist for the Los Angeles Times
Book Prize--Young Adult Fiction
Ghosts and Nose Hair written by Steven Herrick and illustrated
by Gregory Rogers a verse novel for young adults. It's about love,
death, and self-image.
Place Like This by Steven Herrick is an easy to read novel
in verse from Australia for teenagers and young adults. It deals
with love and self-image.
Spangled Drongo by Steven Herrick is a novel in verse about
Twelve-year-old Sam who has soccer fever. He lives with eccentric
Auntie Ashmara and Ronaldo his dog.
Fiction / Fantasy
by Frederick Pollack is a science fiction novel in verse that
deals with utopian-dystopian. On X-day the universe turns inside-out,
leaving an extensive "Zone" to the controls of a leftist
cabal. An able-bodied Stephen Hawking--the mastermind--lurks
in the margins. His henchman heads a posse of enforcers who
dispense Dante-esque rewards and punishments.
World, Vol 1 by Dilip Suraana
Bygraves by Martha
Grimes and illustrated by Devis Grebu is about a British
detective who solves his cases from afar.
The Lady Killer by Keating, H. R. F.
by alex s. defazio. 'Christine' revolves around the murder of
its title character, a mysterious girl who does not speak and
expresses herself only through secretive dance.
is written by Mitch Cullin and Illustrated by Kikushima, Ryuzo.
It's a chilling short novel in verse which is a police drama that
takes place in Texas. A stepfather is cruel to his stepson.
Monkey's Mask: An Erotic Murder Mystery by Dorothy Porter
is a lesbian detective novel in verse.
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