Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Literary Revisionism: Hot New Trend, or Flash in the Pan?

What with the recent publication of Sense and Sensibility and Zombies, me and a lot of my buds have been sitting back, waiting to see what happens. Is this a crack in a new doorway forward? Or just a fluke that doesn't do much for the general public?

Because if it does, then screw it with this tongue-in-cheek stuff meant to evoke highbrow yuks from the juxtaposition of schlock-horror tropes with Victorian drawing-room comedies of manners. That's all well and good, but it's a pretty limited vein to be able to mine. Whereas if this update-the-classics shtick proves financially viable, then there's far greater steaks out there waiting to be slapped on the grill to feed the book-hungry public! And literally armies of paperback hack artists waiting at-the-ready to apply our talents, adapting erstwhile literary classics for a more modern book-reading audience.

I'm not talking about just inserting one foreign element into an existing book and calling it a mashup. No, I mean more like what a novelizer of a popular movie does: create a book that tells the same story, only in words that the fans can understand. If the demographics are there for this kind of product, then we can bang the starting gong on the full-scale novelization of literature.

Take Moby Dick. Most people would rather not! But now, reimagineer that sucker as: Blood Whale. It would still be set in the past - modern readers eat that stuff up, as proven by sales of the Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World novelizations (they even got two books out of that!). But what you've got to lose is all the dense, stilted prose, the needless subtleties, the endless descriptive passages that you can't even figure out what's supposed to be being described. Chuck all that bilge! This is not your great-great-great-grandfather's Moby-Dick, this is BLOOD WHALE: DEEP REVENGE! Chuck the stodgy characterizations and soliloquizing. Now you have Brock Ahab, brash young buck fresh out of the Whaling Academy in command of his first vessel the U.S.S. Pequod. Ahab steps on board with a grudge already - against the infamous and legendary white whale Kh'hah Khaertcho who killed his dad, even though his dad was just an innocent landlubber out on a sea cruise! See, that's a backstory. Brash Captain Brock is a driven and grimly sexy young man who became a whaler for good reason: revenge! Outfit him with an idiosyncratic crew of misfits including the fiery, impetuous Starbuck (changed to a female in this daring reboot) and the cold, logical Mr. Ishmael.

See? See? And that's only one example!

If you think I'm going to give out any more free ones, you're nuts.


limom said...

Launching a new career?
Testing the waters?
I'd buy it!
Then again, maybe not.
What am I saying?
This coming from someone who bought all the novelized versions of the old Star Trek series back in the seventies.

dogimo said...

I'll tell you the ones to steer clear of: those Lord of the Rings novelizations? Crap. They totally made up a ton of extra stuff that didn't even happen!

Plus they left out my best part.

Sarah P said...

I don't get these mash-ups. I haven't even considered reading them. I'm more than happy to judge from a stance of ignorance.

dogimo said...

Sarah: good on you! The world is too full of self-aggrandizing phenomena and insignificant stimuli masquerading as something worthy of our attention. Each needy, demanding minor opus wheedling, "you must give me the attention I say I deserve, you must consume me whole before you ever dare pronounce a dismissive word against me!"

Well I say: Oh, yeah? I hereby peremptorily dismiss all media. With an opt-back-in at my discretion, for those works that can adequately discharge their burden of persuasion, and convince me they are worth the risk of wasting my time.