Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jane Slayre. Really?

One day last year, most likely as I whiled away some slow hours at my desk by doing what I do best; surfing the vast labyrinth of online entertainment news, I came across a review or news item or something of that sort about a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, at this point in time I had recently fallen in love with the Jane Austen classic, thanks in large part to Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Kiera Knightley. I enjoyed the adapted BBC miniseries just as much as the recent adaption by the brilliant Joe Wright and as I spent the majority of my life 100% sure I would not enjoy a story that seemed, by mere cover-judging, horrendously boring, I was shocked to discover that the story was in fact a not-so-hidden (just from me, as it turned out) treasure of beautifully written characters, not to mention the surprising intensity of such outwardly boring scenes like a group of prissy nobles sitting and talking in a room together. Who knew you'd be on the edge of your seat with something like that, eh? Not I , that's for sure.

Anyhow, even though I had found the movie versions of the classic novel to be both stimulating and highly satisfying, I had yet to crack open the actual book, despite my undying love and devotion to all things musty, old, and book-like (to this day, I walk into a bookstore and am immediately soothed in both body and soul). So when I ran across the news that a well-received spoof of the original had been published, I decided to first finally read the original and then try out the Seth Grahame-Smith, zombie-infused version (which seemed far too possibly, ridiculously hilarious to pass-up). I read the original, both bored at times (as I originally suspected) and interested also, especially when scenes came along that weren't in either movie version, but which included all the best aspects of the Elizabeth/Mr. Darcy relationship. Finally, I finished (yay for me) and after stopping by three different bookstores who were sold out of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I found a copy and started on the bloody-good, rip-off version. It was slow work, I admit, since even though the zombies spiced up the story a bit, I felt like I was merely re-reading a story I had just read. My reading was slowed even further, stopped in fact, when some unpleasant vandals broke into my car one night and stole my bag, which contained my one copy of the book and also my lovely Phantom of the Opera bookmark that a friend of mine (Mrs. Kiwi herself) had given to me as a gift. Blasted hoodlums! My quest for sophisticated and classic, literary self-schooling (my reading tends toward the less sophisticated and more towards knights and dungeons and dragons) had been foiled and I have yet to find the will (or let's face it, the overwhelming desire) to buy another copy.

Since that first novel by Grahame-Smith, which combined classic literature with eyebrow-raising and giggle-inducing horror, there have been several other books written in the same style. Ben H. Winters changed Sense and Sensibility to include "...and Sea Monsters" and Grahame-Smith wrote another historical adaption in the form of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. The movie rights for P&P&Z were sold and the film is now attached to Natalie Portman and now Steve Hockensmith will soon release a prequel to P&P&Z called Dawn of the Dreadfuls (see video below).

This all seems like a very long and round-about way to discuss both this new trend of classic literary spoofs and also the news of yet another Supernatural-ifed classic novel; Jane Slayre. I know, right? Is it just me or is this getting a bit ridiculous? Don't get me wrong. I love the reinvention of history as much as the next Buffy fan. One of my favorite short stories involves a slayer, her watcher, General Sherman and the re-writing of his historic burning from Atlanta to Savannah to include the motivation provided by the dangers of vampire nests too near to a recent battlefield. Needless to say, re-writing history is more often than naught a very fun and interesting exercise... but this is getting to be a bit much, don't ya think? You can only do something so many times before it gets old. And I'm starting to feel old, people.

What about you? Do you think I'm being too harsh or are you sitting beside me in my camp, enjoying the fire of literary indignity? Has anyone else attempted to read one of these re-tellings, or have you too been foiled by easily-broken, car-window glass and an unlucky parking space?

1 comment:

kiwi said...

aw! i didn't know the bookmark got stolen :(

i never really got into those zombie/vampire mashups...i love jane austen just the way she is!


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