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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , charlie and the chocolate factory, , , , j. g. ballard, , joan weigall, , , , , , picnic at hanging rock, , , the adventures of huckleberry finn, the macdermots of ballycloran, , , , , through the looking glass, , why I want to f*ck ronald reagan   

    15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History 

    Revision is a vital aspect of creation; all authors delete, re-write, and occasionally burn entire manuscripts with tears streaming down their faces. Most of the time, deleted chapters occur so early in the writing process that they’re not relevant—or interesting. They’re just the cost of doing literary business. Sometimes, though, the story behind excised material is almost as interesting as the finished version of the book it comes from. The fifteen chapters listed here didn’t make it into the published version of the book—but that hasn’t stopped them from being part of the conversation.

    Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
    Heller’s classic 1961 novel, one of the funniest, darkest, and most complex ever written, took about eight years to write—and remains the defining work of Heller’s career. Put simply, if you’re discussing Joseph Heller, you’re discussing Catch-22, and even Heller seemed to accept this towards the end of his life. Much of his late output was directly connected to his first novel, and in 2003 he published the collection Catch as Catch Can which contained two deleted chapters from Catch-22: “Love, Dad” and “Yossarian Survives” (both of which had been previously published). The chapters provide some background on Nately and Yossarian while offering some of Heller’s most savage mockery of the military—and both chapters work perfectly well as standalone stories, making them perhaps the rare examples of chapters deleted from books because they were too good.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Stoker’s novel is one of the most influential in all of history, but it originally ended a bit differently from the version you’re familiar with. A deleted chapter detailed Dracula’s castle literally falling apart as he dies. It’s not very long—a grace note, really—and there are several theories as to why Stoker excised it very close to its publication. Some people think he might have been envisioning a sequel and wanted to hedge his bets. Others think he might have worried about being accused of stealing the concept from Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever the reason, reading the chapter does change the tone of the novel just enough to make it significant.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
    Wilde’s only novel originally contained a great deal of homosexual imagery, sexual allusions, and other edgy stuff that made his publisher’s head explode. So his editor forced him to cut a great deal of this “objectionable” material. Even so, the book created a stir upon publication, as it still contained passages that outraged a lot of people, and so Wilde revised the book a second time in an effort to make it acceptable. Wilde’s reward was a novel everyone is still reading and, of course, a few years in jail simply for being a homosexual. In 2011 the uncensored version of the book was finally published with the deleted chapters restored, so you can now read the book in all its dirty glory.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    In the early versions of Dahl’s beloved book there were actually eight kids brought into Wonka’s factory, and they had some different adventures—including the original chapter 5, which brings the children and their parents into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where a literal mountain of fudge is worked on by Wonka’s servants with picks and hammers, sending boulders of fudge down to the floor where they’re grabbed by cranes and sent on wagons into a hole in the wall. Sounds delightful until two of the kids and their parents ignore Wonka’s warnings and ride the wagons to what they think will be fudge heaven. Instead, Wonka reveals that the fudge is tipped out of the wagons into a machine that pounds it thin then chops it up. Dahl’s publisher thought this was a bit too nasty for kids, and so the chapter was deleted and didn’t see the light of day until 2014.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    The Martian by Andy Weir went through a lot of revision. The original version posted on Weir’s website—still available online if you know where to look—is very different from the final version. A few years ago Weir went on Reddit for an unannounced, secret “Ask Me Anything” session and revealed the original epilogue of the story, which featured Mark Watney cursing at a child who asks him if he’d return to Mars if they asked him. It’s actually kind of a delightful ending, and one we wish they would have included in the movie.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    The original ending of Dickens’ famous novel was kind of dark and sad: Pip and Estella meet years after the events of the novel, but instead of a bittersweet moment implying a future for the two, both are simply bitter, and they part on savage terms. Dickens liked this ending because he thought it was unexpected and original, but his Beta Readers disagreed, so he changed the chapter to the version we’re all familiar with. After publication he went back and revised the final line, coming up with the perfect “I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

    Why I Want to F*ck Ronald Reagan, by J. G. Ballard
    In the late 1960s, Ronald Reagan was something new: one of the first “media politicians” who knew that how you said something was more important than what you said, as well as one of the first “far right” politicians in mainstream politics. Although a decade and a half from the presidency, he made an impact that J.G. Ballard found interesting, and he wrote a short work styled as an academic paper describing bizarre experiments to measure Reagan’s sexual appeal. It was meant to be challenging and confrontational—and it sure was. It was originally included in Ballard’s collection The Atrocity Exhibition, but the American publisher of the book actually destroyed the entire printing rather than let it loose on the country. Let that sink in: the publisher destroyed every copy of the book rather than publish this. If there’s a better reason to read it, we’re unaware.

    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    It’s well-known that the last chapter of Burgess’ novel was deleted before it was published in the United States; the publisher thought the “softer” ending in which Alex starts to mature and see that his behavior in the earlier portions of the book was wrong would turn off American readers. Indeed, many still prefer the way the book ended in the truncated version, which is also the beat Stanley Kubrick’s classic film version ends on: Alex dreaming of violence, thinking “I was cured all right.”

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    Wells’ novel about a man who invents a time machine established not just one of the sturdiest sci-fi tropes of all time, but a template for the modern speculative novel. Wells’ publisher insisted he add a section showing mankind’s ultimate evolutionary fate, and Wells obliged under protest, writing a chapter in which the time traveler escapes the Morlocks by traveling into the distant future, where he encounters small mammals which he determines are the descendants of humanity. Wells never liked it and had it removed as soon as he was able, and while the story, which you can read under the standalone title “The Grey Man,” is interesting, the book is much better without it.

    Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is more Alice than Alice in many ways. The illustrator working on the book sent Carroll a note saying he wasn’t inspired by the “wasp chapter”, and suggested none-too-subtly that if Carroll were looking to cut the book down a bit, the Wasp part would be the place to start. No one knew what he was referring to, however—until 1976 when the missing “Wasp in a Wig” chapter was put up for auction. One problem, however: no one has ever been able to verify that this was actually written by Carroll. Reading it, the reason people have doubts is pretty clear: it’s awful. Either Carroll cut the one example of bad writing he ever managed…or he didn’t write it.

    Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Weigall
    Weigall’s 1967 novel was a sensation at the time, despite the fact that it literally had no ending. The story of college students who disappear while visiting Hanging Rock in Australia was originally ended with a pretty crazy explanation of everything that happened, but Weigall’s publisher suggested the book might do better without the, um, crazy part and so the final chapter was deleted (you can read it here if you want), meaning that the story just stops, and no explanation is offered at all for the mystery. This actually fueled the book’s success, making it into a “must read” at the time. If the Internet had existed in 1967, this book would have broken it.

    The MacDermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope
    Trollope had very low expectations for his first novel, and these were borne out when it didn’t do very well. Although the novel has gained in reputation since its initial lackluster publication, you have to be careful to get the original 1847 version, because Trollope later hacked his book to death in an effort to…improve it, we guess? He deleted three chapters and changed a great deal of what makes the original novel interesting (mainly the Irish dialects, politics, and the character flaws). The revised version isn’t nearly as good, and the three missing chapters are, ironically, some of the best writing in the book.

    Answered Prayers, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s transformation from brilliant writer to alcoholic gadfly took about twenty years, and in that time he continuously accepted advances and signed contracts for Answered Prayers, a novel he never got around to finishing. Four chapters were published in magazines (the first, “La Côte Basque 1965,” was so obviously based on his real-life friends and acquaintances Capote pretty much lost every friend he had) and they’re pretty hefty, amounting to a novel’s worth of text if put together. But several other chapters have been referenced in Capote’s correspondence—and he claimed he’d written the final chapter first so he’d know where he was going—that have yet to turn up anywhere.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Twain, never one to be typical, wasn’t satisfied to delete a mere chapter, instead opting to delete 665 manuscript pages, essentially an entire shadow version of his all-time classic novel. Twain paused work on the book for three years, and scholars have long argued over where exactly he broke off and what he changed when he returned to the book. The deleted chapters contain plenty of material not present in the final book, and have proved invaluable in trying to determine Twain’s intentions and process.

    Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    Austen was one of the most meticulous writers of all time, and put a lot of effort into revising her novels. Persuasion is one of the few in which we can compare early drafts to see how the novel developed, and Austen’s deleted chapters show a ruthless approach to improving the pacing of the plot and the creation of her characters. Assembling earlier versions of the novel show what her original inspiration was, how her ideas changed as she worked, and cast some light on the sausage-making underneath the charming and compelling narratives Austen created.

    Did we miss any famous deleted chapters?

    The post 15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2017/06/05 Permalink
    Tags: charlie and the chocolate factory, , , keep out, , , since we fell,   

    5 Novels Whose Main Characters Are Shut-ins 

    Characters, as a rule, should possess agency. They must be capable of changing the course of the plot, of meeting conflict, or else they’re just window-dressing. Normally, this requires that they be mobile, moving from setting to setting as they pursue an agenda, flee danger, or face their enemies. But not always; while it’s a little tricky to pull off, it’s not unheard of for a literary character to never leave their house, something that’s increasingly plausible, since we live in a world where the internet has made never leaving the house is a realistic possibility. Literary shut-ins pose a special challenge for the writer, but when it works, it can be magical—just look at these five shut-ins from some terrific books.

    Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane
    Lehane’s newest thriller focuses on Rachel Child, a successful television journalist raised by a manipulative mother who doesn’t realize just how damaged she is until an on-air nervous breakdown ends her career. In freefall, Rachel locks herself up in her house and never leaves. With time to think, she wonders about her father, whose identity her mother hid from her, and contacts a private detective to try to identify him. That detective, Brian Delacroix, becomes more than a hire for Rachel—he becomes, she thinks, her lover and salvation. When she begins to suspect he might not be everything he seems, the story really kicks into high gear, an Rachel proves to be a surprisingly dynamic character despite her isolated status.

    Bernadette Fox in Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
    Bernadette Fox is a brilliant, difficult woman living in Seattle with her brilliant, neglectful husband and her brilliant, adorable daughter Bee. Bernadette despises the city, and never leaves the house. At first, Bernadette seems to be simply quirky; she’s obviously very bright and engaged in her community, and when Bee expresses a wish to visit Antarctica, Bernadette perversely throws herself into planning the trip with a gusto slowly revealed to be slightly unhinged. Bernadette’s manic manner, which includes several hilarious exchanges with her slightly befuddled virtual assistant, whom she relies on to carry out the simplest of everyday tasks, slowly builds to the breaking point, and Bernadette stops being a shut-in after all—leading to the extended third act of the novel that inverts everything that has gone before.

    Nero Wolfe in The Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout
    Nero Wolfe is one of the greatest fictional detectives ever created, a large man with refined tastes who almost never leaves his brownstone in Manhattan—he’s literally an armchair detective. Wolfe relies on his assistant, Archie Goodwin, for all the work done outside his home. Archie is everything Wolfe isn’t—young, handsome, and at ease in the world. Considering Wolfe solves his crimes in the years before the internet, before cell phones—heck, in an age when phones were usually kept in a closet and used relatively rarely—it’s even more incredible he does so simply by listening attentively and examining the physical evidence that can be transported to his house. What’s interesting about Wolfe’s shut-in status is that his house is almost a complete ecosystem catering to his expensive tastes, leading the reader to imagine that Wolfe is choosing to stay inside rather than suffering from any sort of crippling phobia.

    Willie Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    Willie Wonka is one of the most famous shut-ins in literature, his status masked by his extravagant appearance, exuberant personality, and the sheer size and scale of the factory he never, ever leaves. Wonka seals himself up inside in order to preserve the security of his recipes and his candy-making secrets, but upon discovering a gray hair, he realizes he isn’t going to live forever, and thus needs a trusted heir to carry on his work. That is the impetus for the famous golden tickets, the subsequent factory tour, and the happy inheritance for good ol’ Charlie—never mind the implication that Charlie is now expected to live the rest of his life inside the factory as well, putting a perfectly Dahl-like sinister spin on the whole wish fulfillment premise.

    Ilya Ilyich Oblomov in Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov
    It takes about 50 pages for Ilya Ilyich Oblomov to get out of bed and sit in a chair, exhausted by the effort. A rich landlord in the Russian Empire, Oblomov is intended to satirize the lazy, do-nothing lifestyle prized by many Russian aristocrats, and boy-howdy, does he ever. Coddled and indulged his entire life, Oblomov is so removed from the world, he can barely attend to his own interests, and winds up marrying a woman who allows him to enter a second childhood, wallowing in his bedroom and never dealing with any business he finds disagreeable, until he finally achieves his lifelong dream of eternal sleep…by dying in bed. Oblomov is a frustrating and fascinating character, not least because he never considers true change for the simple reason that he is, in fact, living his best life—he really wants to stay in bed and do nothing. Forever.

     

    The post 5 Novels Whose Main Characters Are Shut-ins appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 5:00 pm on 2014/09/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , charlie and the chocolate factory, , , , , , office politics, , ,   

    5 Fictional Workplaces More Dysfunctional Than Yours 

    The CircleA select (lucky) few of us aside, most employees tend to think that the offices we work in are uniquely crazy hotbeds of chaos, dysfunction, and coworkers who will leave a coffee pot with less than 1 millimeter of coffee in it for the next person. But take heart, fellow drones! At least your workplace isn’t quite as aggravating as the following fictional places of employment:

    Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl)
    Yes, we’d all like a workplace with a chocolate waterfall in it (I’ve heard they have one at Google; just saying)—but at what cost? If you worked for Willy Wonka, sure you’d be able to go around licking the wallpaper, and you’d probably get an Everlasting Gobstopper with your welcome packet from HR, but remember—all of your coworkers would be from Loompaland, which would leave you feeling like an outsider, especially if you weren’t into impromptu yet perfectly executed song and dance numbers. Plus, no dental plan in the world is going to be comprehensive enough for this job, trust me.

    The Circle (The Circle, by Dave Eggers)
    With its stunning, state-of-the-art playground of an office—or rather, “campus”—and nonstop perks and parties, the Circle, a fictional (yet *wink wink* strangely familiar) blockbuster internet company in CA, is the kind of enviable workplace most plebes can only dream of joining. But applicant beware—soon after you’re hired, you’ll watch in horror as the Circle gradually but inexorably infiltrates every aspect of your personal and professional life until you feel like a bug under a microscope. Part thriller, part creepy, prescient prediction of the dangers of decreased privacy through ever more encroaching social media platforms, The Circle is nearly impossible to put down—but trust me, you wouldn’t want to work there (even for the parties).

    Bartleby’s Law Office (Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville)
    You know that frustrating coworker who doesn’t ever seem to do anything? Well that guy’s got nothing on Bartleby, the peculiar new hire at a Manhattan law office in Melville’s memorable story. While at first Bartleby does exemplary work, before long his efforts begin to peter out, and by the end of the story he’s even stopped going home at the end of the day and is actually living at the office. He still won’t work, though, and responds to requests of any kind with his now-infamous phrase, “I would prefer not to.” On the plus side, though, at least he won’t eat your clearly marked yogurt out of the break room fridge, or bug you incessantly to join his fantasy football league. Maybe Bartleby wouldn’t make such a bad coworker after all.

    The Office of Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens)
    Your manager may be frustrating, miserly, and diametrically opposed to the concept of Casual Fridays, but would it take being visited by the ghost of a former business associate as well as the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future for him to be shown the error of his ways? If you answered “yes,” it might be a good time to buy a new interview suit and update your LinkedIn profile, because this kind of dramatic, spirit-induced transformation is unlikely to happen to a boss in real life.

    The Ministry of Magic (The Harry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling)
    Sure, it seems like it would be fun to work at the Ministry of Magic, but remember, a job is still a job—working at the Ministry isn’t all hanging with hippogriffs and bopping around on the Floo Network. You’re bound to find yourself wading through reams of paperwork—whether you’re working in the Department of Magical Transportation or the Improper Use of Magic Office—since the Ministry is a spider’s nest of confusing (and occasionally malicious) bureaucracy. Plus, how many organizations have to worry about being hijacked by Death Eaters? Just this one and the DMV, I’m pretty sure.

    Which fictional workplaces would you prefer not to be employed by?

     
  • Maurie Backman 7:30 pm on 2014/08/18 Permalink
    Tags: 20000 leagues under the sea, charlie and the chocolate factory, , , , , , , , literary vacations, , , ,   

    6 Books That Should Have Inspired Their Own Theme Parks 

    Gullivers TravelsFirst there was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which continues to draw countless visitors to Universal Orlando, and this week, we learned that Disney is building a Star Wars theme park for fans who have been longing to immerse themselves in George Lucas’s fictional universe. Given the popularity of theme parks nowadays, we thought we’d suggest some of our own based on our favorite books. Though we don’t expect to see these built anytime soon, we know we’d sure pay good money for a chance to escape to any one of them.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s World of Candy Delights
    (Based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl)
    Imagine a theme park where you can swim in a chocolate river, munch on samples from a gumdrop tree, and pick edible flowers to nibble. All you need to get in is a golden ticket—which you wouldn’t have to win, but rather just purchase at the gate—to explore this magical world of sugary goodness.

    Moby Dick’s Water World
    (Based on Moby Dick, by Herman Melville)
    At this exciting, interactive waterpark, you’ll get a chance to swim with and chase after (mechanical) whales in the expansive open ocean pool. Experience the thrills of rides such as Captain Ahab’s Wave Chaser and the winding, twisting Harpoon Slide. And don’t worry about getting hungry or thirsty; there’s a good chance you’ll find a Starbucks on the premises.

    The Magical World of Oz
    (Based on The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum)
    Gather up some friends and get ready to follow the yellow brick road through its many twists and turns. Wear your walking shoes, because you’ll need to explore this theme park completely on foot. Along the way, you may face a run-in with a disgruntled witch, but if you manage to find the wizard, you’ll be entered into a daily drawing where one lucky winner scores an all-expenses-paid trip to Kansas. Best of all, this park is dog-friendly, so you can bring your favorite canine friend along for the journey.

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Adventure
    (Based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne)
    At this underwater theme park, you’ll get to visit a series of submarines and explore their inner workings while observing a host of aquatic wildlife with the occasional sea monster thrown in. Scuba-certified visitors can also take advantage of the park’s deep sea dive feature, where they can witness wonders such as breathtaking corals and exotic marine creatures.

    The Time Machine Time Travel Experience
    (Based on The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells)
    This theme park is a little unique in that there’s only one ride to go on, and you never really know where it’ll take you. Perhaps you’ll be sent back to Victorian times, or be propelled millions of years into the future to a world that’s hardly recognizable. No matter where the time machine takes you, rest assured—you’ll be able to purchase a souvenir print of your unique journey as you exit through the gift shop.

    Gulliver’s World of Wonders
    (Based on Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift)
    At this theme park, you can travel to a series of different worlds and expand your horizons like never before. Experience the thrills of towering over the locals, or walking among giants, or seeing live talking horses in action. One low-cost fee buys you a ticket to the adventure of a lifetime.

    Which of your favorite books do you think could inspire its own dedicated theme park? 

     
  • Melissa Albert 8:05 pm on 2014/07/22 Permalink
    Tags: charlie and the chocolate factory, , , , , , , , ,   

    My 5 Weirdest Fictional Crushes 

    J.M. Barrie's Peter PanYou can keep your Darcies, your Rochesters, your Wentworths (okay, okay, save one Wentworth for me). Because the best fictional crushes are the weird ones, the ones that require you to read between the lines, to infer sexual charisma from a throwaway sentence or two, to dig beyond stormy brows and passionate kisses to the supporting characters behind the hunks. To acknowledge all of you who can’t understand the fuss about Sherlock, but have a big ol’ thing for Inspector Lestrade, who would leapfrog Harry to get at Seamus, I present a list of my most unlikely literary crushes. What are yours?

    Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet
    While Romeo was all, “Wah, why won’t Rosaline love m—hey, who’s that?” *pushes Rosaline into fountain in rush to get to Juliet*, Mercutio is kicking back, making jokes, and refusing to take life so seriously. He tries to defuse the tension with the Capulets via killer barbs, but when that doesn’t work, he’s ready to fight. A brilliant, quick-witted dude who tries to avoid conflict but is brave when it arises? Put me down for one, please.

    Captain Hook, Peter Pan
    I’ve aged out of my maaaaajor crush on Peter Pan, moving onto the sad and sensitive Captain Hook. Not the ridiculous cartoon character, but book Hook, the one with the mysterious origins and the faded elegance, whose plot to kill the Lost Boys at one point involves baking a very heavy cake and tricking them into eating it (“They will find the cake and they will gobble it up, because, having no mother, they don’t know how dangerous ‘tis to eat rich damp cake”). What a hilariously mild murder plot! Don’t ask me why I find it so charming…there’s really no good answer.

    Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    I mean…free candy, for one thing. Also that adorable glint of insanity in his eye—everyone wants to date someone with a passion! And if there were a Mrs. Wonka, one would assume she’d have the opportunity to weigh in with new candy ideas? And go on candy-eating research trips around the globe? And basically every day of her life would be a gold-ticket kind of a day? Yessss.

    Boba Fett, Star Wars extended universe fiction
    What’s beneath that mask? Boba Fett’s not telling, because he walks alone. There’s basically no sexier job title than “intergalactic bounty hunter,” unless it’s “gentleman, scholar, rogue.” Fett travels the lonely galaxies, tracking down his prey. He makes his own hours, he is his own boss, he answers to one. Sound like anyone you know? That’s right: Han Solo. Minus the morals, the girlfriend, and the cute vest, of course. I can help you get one of those things, Boba Fett. And I’m not talking about vest-shopping.

    Mr. Weasley, Harry Potter
    Everyone has a secret-not-so-secret crush on Snape (and some of us can’t help but acknowledge the sexy intensity of a young Tom Riddle), but what about Mr. Weasley? He was raising ginger hell around Hogwarts long before Fred and George ever met a nose-biting teacup. There’s something weirdly charming about his bumbling obsession with the Muggle lifestyle, and I want to blow his mind by taking him on a date to the mall. Escalators? Cash registers? RadioShack? Best date ever.

    Well, spill it: who’s your oddest fictional crush?

     
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