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  • Brian Boone 2:00 pm on 2017/11/02 Permalink
    Tags: a thousand acres, ana of california, andi teran, , , , dorian an imitation, going bovine, , , , , , maya lang, , , page to page, the picture of dorian gray, the sixteenth of june, , will self,   

    5 Books You Didn’t Know Were Remakes 

    Many standup comedians have made the amusing joke/observation that us creative humans in the Western world don’t hesitate to remake movies or songs but we never remake books. The most famous variation on the gag—after expressing that sentiment, the comedian mentions that they’re writing a word-for-word remake of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The thing is, authors remake other authors’ material all the time. It’s just that in the world of books they’re called “adaptations” or “re-imaginings.” Here are some books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works.

    A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a remake of Shakespeare’s King Lear
    One of big reasons why Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest author, or playwright, of all time, is because his stories and characters continue to resonate through the centuries. The Bard wrote his stuff 400 years ago, and it’s still solid, because his themes are universal and his characters are relatable. Once in a while, an author will use one of Shakespeare’s plays as a jumping-off point—they just need to update the language. And the settings. And the plots. And into prose from dialogue. Perhaps the best example of Shakespeare 2.0 is Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres. Because a king deciding which daughter to bequeath his kingdom to is a little irrelevant to the modern United States, Smiley made it about three daughters up to inherit their aging father’s farm. Smiley won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel.

    Going Bovine by Libba Bray is a remake of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote
    Miguel de Cervantes’ epic comedy Don Quixote is about a man with both mental illness and delusions of grandeur—it’s pretty modern and sophisticated for having been published four centuries ago. But hey, funny is funny, and comedy is eternal. Libba Bray deftly reworked the vast, complicated classic into a digestible modern tale set in high school. A regular guy named Cameron contracts Mad Cow Disease, as one does, and suffers from all kinds of delightful hallucinations.

    The Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang is a remake of James Joyce’s Ulysses
    James Joyce’s crowning achievement is Ulysses, an astonishingly detailed, hyper-realistic look at a single day in Dublin, Ireland—June 16, 1904. Commemorations of that day are now known as Bloomsday, after one the book’s many, many characters, Leo Bloom. Almost as real as Joyce’s physical descriptions are the richly rendered characters. “A day in the life” is a repeatable formula, but difficult to do well. Author Maya Lang pulls it off with The Sixteenth of June. It’s a cutting, insightful, emotional look at the good people of Philadelphia on June 16, 2004. A couple of people even throw a Bloomsday party! (Of course, if you want to get technical, Ulysses itself is a remake of the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey.)

    Ana of California by Andi Teran is a remake of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
    You can’t improve on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s moving story of plucky, idiosyncratic red-headed orphan Anne Shirley charming the once crusty townsfolk of Avonlea. You can only re-create it in another time and place. At its core, Anne of Green Gables is a story about how hard it is to a new place, and fit in while maintaining your identity and integrity, and Andi Teran maintains all of Montgomery’s themes in her Anne reimagining, Ana of California. And she does it quite well, telling the tale of a teenage orphan named Ana Cortez who leaves the foster care system and East L.A. for a farm work program in Northern California.

    Dorian by Will Self is a remake of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
    What if Oscar Wilde were Bret Easton Ellis? Then he’d write Dorian. Of course, Will Self already wrote this book in 2002. Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray story of a fresh-faced man and his grotesquely aging portrait called out and satirized the superficial. Self logically adapted the novel to take place in the equally hollow and image-conscious world of the 1980s London art scene.

    What are your favorite literary remakes?

    The post 5 Books You Didn’t Know Were Remakes appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , , , , , j. g. ballard, , joan weigall, , , , , , picnic at hanging rock, , , the adventures of huckleberry finn, the macdermots of ballycloran, , the picture of dorian gray, , , 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.

     
  • Tara Sonin 3:30 pm on 2017/08/24 Permalink
    Tags: , cat on a hot tin roof, , , darkness and light, , , , , , , , , the picture of dorian gray, , ,   

    The Gothic Novel Survival Guide 

    So, you’ve found yourself in the 18th or 19th century, stuck in a gothic—or Southern Gothic!—novel. Surrounded by mysterious settings, dangerous characters and a bit of romance, these novels can prove fatal, but nothing you can’t survive, if you follow these instructions:

    1. First, are you in Europe or America?

    The Gothic genre originated in Medieval Europe with The Castle of Ontranto, the story of a man who undoes his life while trying to prevent a prophecy from coming true (think Macbeth meets Oedipus Rex) while Southern Gothic novels like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil are the American response to the popularity of this genre, and deals with the South’s blood-tainted history as a result of slavery. So, depending on where—and therefore, when— you are, you play by different rules.

    2. If you’re in Europe, figure this out first and foremost: if there’s magic, hide on the sidelines.

    Look, I’m not saying Dracula isn’t kind of sexy (especially the Gary Oldman movie version), but in the Gothic genre, magic and mystery almost always spell death. The people who survive are the ones who don’t get mixed up in it. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, wishing for eternal youth has horrific, murderous consequences when a man decides to trap his youth inside a painting, but ultimately damns his soul. (The servants survive though, so probably best to stick to the downstairs parts of the great, gothic houses.)

    3. Are you a woman? Then decide: villain, or victim?

    There are two types of women in gothic literature. There’s the mysterious, often off-the-page villainess (such as Rebecca, in the classic gothic novel about a woman unraveling the truth about her new husband’s dead first wife) and Jane Eyre (whose romantic anti-hero Rochester keeps his mentally unstable wife locked in an attic until she tries to burn their house down). But there are characters like Jane, who is in many ways a victim of circumstance—an orphan, abused, forced into a life of servitude—and Nelly, in Wuthering Heights, the narrator of the story and servant to the family. She isn’t culpable for the tragedy that ensues as a result of Catherine and Heathcliffe’s romance, but she witnesses it, and lives to tell the tale. As I said before: villains usually have a tragic end, but as far as gothic literature goes, they’re usually the most infamous (and interesting) characters.

    4. If you’re in a Southern Gothic novel, outrun your past—fast.

    In books like The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and plays like Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the characters are obsessed with events that happened in the past that they cannot undo. If your past is haunting you, it can be almost as powerful as the magic present in the European gothic novels. For the characters in The Sound and the Fury, three brothers fixating on what happened to their youngest sister, Caddy, caused the ruin of their entire family; and in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s inability to confront the truth about his sexuality led to tragedy both for his marriage, and a close friend. If you’re going to survive the Gothic South, either make peace with the past, or invent yourself a new one.

    On second thought, these books may be much more fun to read than they are to live through, but with these steps, you’re primed to make it to the 21st century intact. Unless, of course, I’m one of those gothic villainesses haunting you from the shadows of your past, waiting to take you down.

    What tips would you offer someone who’s just trying to live through a gothic novel?

    The post The Gothic Novel Survival Guide appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Carrie Wittmer 5:30 pm on 2014/10/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , nicknames, , , , , the picture of dorian gray,   

    What’s Your Favorite Fictional Character’s Game of Thrones Name? 

    A Song of Ice and Fire at BNDo you ever wish it took more than a full minute to announce your entire name, which not only included your first and last, but all of your nicknames, all of your accomplishments, and where you came from? Whether you’d find it a hassle or a delight, it’s a pleasure to wonder how some of the best characters in literature would fit into a fictional universe where long, moniker-rich names are king—specifically, that of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. From Hogwarts to West Egg to Baker Street, here’s our list of the titles our favorite characters in fiction would probably have if they lived in the great and dangerous Seven Kingdoms:

    Ser Dorian Gray, The Painted

    Ser James Gatz of West Egg, The Innocent, Master of Bubbly, Believer in the Green Light

    Sherlock Holmes the Huge-Headed, The Bloodhound of Baker Street

    Lord Harry of House Potter of 4 Privet Drive, First of His Name, The Chosen One, The Boy Who Lived, the Lightning Scarred, Keeper of 12 Grimmauld Place

    Ramona “The Pest,” Puller of Hair and Maker of Mischief, Child of the Klickitat Street Quimbies

    Lisbeth Salander, Girl Who Played With Fire, The Black Snake of Stockholm

    Lady Daisy of House Buchanan of West Egg, The Unaffected, The Frivolous, The Green Light Maiden

    Tyler “Mayhem” Durden the Ephemeral, Defiler of Faces

    Lady Elizabeth “Lizzy” of House Bennett of Hertfordshire, Lady of the Fine Eyes, Salvager of Man

    Josephine “Jo” of House March, Wearer of Writing Cap, Mother of Words

    What would your favorite character’s Westeros name be?

     
  • Ryan Britt 3:30 pm on 2014/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , fantastic voyage, howard pyle, , , , paycheck, , , sir arthur conan doyle, , the merry adventures of robin hood, the picture of dorian gray, , whovians   

    A Reading List for the New Season of Doctor Who 

    doctorwholitinspirationsOverwhelmingly, fans of Doctor Who have strong opinions about Doctor Who. Do we love Peter Capaldi’s no-hugging grumpier Doctor, or are we having a hard time understanding his accent? Does everyone miss Matt Smith already? Are the new episodes too confusing, or not confusing enough?

    Perhaps we need to put our quibbles aside and start reading. Because if you take a look at this season’s plot lines, you might notice the show is drawing heavily on books, books you should probably read right now.

    Here’s a rundown of Doctor Who’s new season so far, with the great books that inspired each episode.

    “Deep Breath”
    The debut of Capldai’s furious-eyebrowed Doctor began in a Victorian setting, a departure from the past several modern-day Doctor regenerations. This gaslight atmosphere was for more than just mood, as elements of the plot were taken from the heavy-hitters of Victorian literature: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. In the episode, a rogue dinosaur spontaneously combusts, leading the Doctor to play detective in order to determine if there have been similar mysterious occurrences (of spontaneous combustion…presumably there was just the one rogue dinosaur). His deduction—that the dinosaur blowing up was murder—is totally in line with a Sherlock Holmes leap of logic, and the idea of an apparent accident concealing a planned murder is a big part of the classic Holmes mystery “The Bruce-Partington Plans.” Madame Vastra and Jenny’s presence in this episode also continues their Holmesian relationship with Scotland Yard. Despite the fact that characters like Robin Hood are often “real” in the Doctor Who universe, it appears Sherlock Holmes is still “fictional.”

    This one also has a little bit of a The Picture of Dorian Gray thing going on, insofar as the blowing up of the dinosaur (and all the other deaths in the episode) is part of a master plan to conceal all the evidence. Dorian Gray, too, has a friend totally dissolve the corpse of an artist in order to dispose of some evidence.

    “Into the Dalek”
    The premise of this one is a science fiction oldie-but-goodie. In order to perform surgery on a Dalek, the Doctor, Clara, and a group of soldiers have to be shrunken down to super-tiny size. When the Doctor gets wind of this, the first thing he says is “Fantastic idea for a movie,” a nod to the film Fantastic Voyage, the novelization of which was written by prolific sci-fi author Isaac Asimov. (This would be like John Scalzi or recent Hugo winner Ann Leckie writing the novelization of Transformers: Age of Extinction.) Asimov did eventually write an original “sequel,” Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain. Guess what part of the body the miniature people have to enter.

    “Robots of Sherwood”
    The title makes this one fairly easy to spot; clearly, the episode was taken from the legends of Robin Hood. Ah, but which Robin Hood legends? This Who adventure posits that the fictional Robin Hood was actually a real person, yet not all the events we see correspond to those super old ballads (where he’s sometimes called Robyn Hode), instead relying mostly on Howard Pyle’s 1883 novel The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which in turn heavily influenced the famous Errol Flynn and Disney films. To put it another way, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood is a novelization of a ballad of an oft-told story, meaning a lot of what’s in there was invented for the book. Still, it’s a great read.

    “Listen”
    In this episode, the Doctor gets really interested in ghosts, and, in particular, the familiar fear of someone grabbing your foot from under the bed. Through topsy-turvy, timey-wimey shenanigans, we learn the ghost under the Doctor’s childhood bed was actually a time-traveling Clara. This episode might not have an obvious literary ancestor, but the repetition of the word “Listen” is a big tip-off to a possible inspiration. The second chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, begins: “Listen. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” The subject of Slaughterhouse-Five obviously concerns how time travel makes one feel about life, and Vonnegut also employs the word “listen,” both in this book and in other works and speeches, as a sort of signal for kindness. In this excellent Doctor Who episode, it’s the same: at first “listen” seems ominous, but later, it becomes a word of kindness for the Doctor, and comfort, too. Vonnegut probably would have loved it.

    “Time Heist”
    This one is all Philip K. Dick. When the Doctor and Clara find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery with no memory as to how they got there or why they’re the ones robbing the bank, the first story that comes to mind should be “Paycheck.” In this classic Dick tale, a man named Jennings has his memory erased after doing a job for which he expected to be paid handsomely. Now unable to remember what the job entailed, the man is stunned when, instead of a paycheck, he’s bizarrely given a strange bag containing all sorts of stuff, stuff he eventually ends up needing very badly. As in the Doctor Who episode, breaking the law is involved, and, of course, the future benefactor who’s the big helper in “Paycheck” turns out to be a time-traveling version of Jennings himself. A character like Jennings can be forgiven for not figuring this out right away, but an experienced time traveler like the Doctor? No way.

    What are some of your favorite Doctor Who literary mash-ups?

     
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