Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ned placed the paper in the hand of the marble figure

A genre is a mode of storytelling in which objects belonging to a certain set are the primary carriers of the narrative. All the titles of Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew Mystery Stories posit two objects, a thing and its secret. The thing sort of summarizes or is the face of the secret, in the same way that a house seen from the sidewalk at night, the composition of shadow and shrubbery and light in the windows, can seem to summarize or be the face of something scary about October, and one imagines that in the order of the story’s action the thing effects a transport into mystery before any particular mystery is announced, that it suggests or causes magical thinking or perceptual disorientation or flights of imagination into necrotic inner tableaux before any particular crime or wrongdoing takes place, that the object is a sign before it is a signature. Almost all the books' titles conform to the narrative formula I suggest, in their logic if not in their manifest grammar, but you may perform your own detective-work:
The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, The Bungalow Mystery, The Mystery at Lilac Inn, The Secret at Shadow Ranch, The Secret of Red Gate Farm, The Clue in the Diary, Nancy's Mysterious Letter, The Sign of the Twisted Candles, The Password to Larkspur Lane, The Clue of the Broken Locket, The Message in the Hollow Oak, The Mystery of the Ivory Charm, The Whispering Statue,The Haunted Bridge, The Clue of the Tapping Heels, The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, The Quest of the Missing Map, The Clue in the Jewel Box, The Secret in the Old Attic, The Clue in the Crumbling Wall, The Mystery of the Tolling Bell, The Clue in the Old Album, The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, The Secret of the Wooden Lady, The Clue of the Black Keys, The Mystery at the Ski Jump, The Clue of the Velvet Mask, The Ringmaster's Secret, The Scarlet Slipper Mystery, The Witch Tree Symbol, The Hidden Window Mystery, The Haunted Showboat, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion, The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, The Mystery of the Fire Dragon, The Clue of the Dancing Puppet, The Moonstone Castle Mystery, The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes, The Phantom of Pine Hill, The Mystery of the 99 Steps, The Clue in the Crossword Cipher, The Spider Sapphire Mystery, The Invisible Intruder, The Mysterious Mannequin, The Crooked Banister, The Secret of Mirror Bay, The Double Jinx Mystery, The Mystery of the Glowing Eye, The Secret of the Forgotten City, The Sky Phantom, The Strange Message in the Parchment, The Mystery of Crocodile Island, The Thirteenth Pearl


Anonymous Snackered said...

The Spider Sapphire Mystery

I rather fancy that one.

10/07/2007 12:33 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

I think The Mystery of the Glowing Eye is the only one I've read (and the only part I remember is an illustration of the eye). I'm more widely read in the Hardy Boys; I've been meaning to write something about their Detective Handbook, a guide to the mode of perception in which things present themselves as clues.

10/09/2007 12:25 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

"who is carl in the clue of the twisted candle"

Someone clicked to my page from the hits of a Google search for the above question, a phrase that appears to me as a kind of clue. On Sunday night I was sitting in the balcony at the movies and looking down at the stage, into the space that would be concealed by the screen when it was lowered, and my vision was fixed on a black candle when the student host announced that the screening was in a different building and had already begun. Here is what I wrote in my notebook: there is a thin black candle tapered to an point in a hornlike brass candlestick in the top of the (WLH 116

10/17/2007 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Perezoso said...

Conan-Doyle outdid many a supposed belle-lettrist, really. The longer pieces--- like Hound of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear---feature fairly cool Edwardian pulp-prose. I think Doc C-D. was an atheist--or at least skeptic---, and rationalist, physician, history and music buff, etc. Holmes and Watson themselves not as silly and bad-mystery-like as the PBS/MissManor crowd have made them out to be.

Like English cuisine, C-D's an acquired taste, yet it's unlikely that Conrad penned prose as cleanly and forcefully as C-D did(though probably more evocatively--but English was JC's 3rd tongue).

Valley of Fear in some sense rocks: C-D rips the Americun frontiersmen ,and it's quite political in a sense. Mormon-mason thug-land from New Yawk to Nevada. Sort of like early cyber-punk. Or maybe I'm too f'ed up.

10/20/2007 8:45 PM  

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