Sunday, April 26, 2015

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters

Title:  Texts from Jane Eyre And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters
Author:  Mallory Ortberg
Publication Information:  Henry Holt and Co. 2014. 240 pages.
ISBN:  1627791833 / 978-1627791830

Book Source:  I found this book browsing through the local library online catalog.

Opening Sentence:  "hiiiiiiii"

Favorite Quote:  "save my number okay" [from Medea to Glauce]

Texts from Jane Eyre is one of many books that reinterpret a story or stories into essentially a different "language". The History of the World According to Facebook presents what a record of history might have been if Facebook had always existed, and if everyone and everything posted on Facebook. Ian Doescher's Star Wars series reinterpret the original Star Wars trilogy into a Shakespearean play.

Texts from Jane Eyre, as the title implies, imagines text conversations between characters from modern and classical literature. Odysseus and Circe. Medea and Glauce. Lizzie Bennett and her mother. Plato and his brother Glaucon. Some of the more modern texts include Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the American Girl series, and the Lorax. The book includes a fairly well rounded compilation from different time periods and different genres.

Each section is only a few pages, and, as you can imagine, really quick to read in text message. If you want a sample, check out The Toast. The author Mallory Ortberg is the co-editor of the site and features a "texts from" section. The idea for the book originally stems from her feature on The Hairpin. Both these sites provide a flavor of what has eventually become this book. Because the sketches are independent, it is a very easy book to read in short spurts. Leave it on your book stand, and pick it up when you need a quick laugh.

Fortunately, the book does not use text-speak or short hand like "LOL, "BRB", etc. The conversation really is a true reference to the original text. Reading the conversations requires an understanding of the original. It's really only funny if you "get" the reference and the unstated history. I find myself laughing out loud (LOL!) over the conversations from the texts I have read and then researching the ones I am not familiar with so that I could understand. Then, I laugh over those. The author knows her literature! The original characters are definitely recognizable in these texts.

In looking up unfamiliar references, I became familiar with texts I might not otherwise have read, and I love books that bring me to other books I have yet to discover. I find myself adding some to my never-gets-any-shorter to read list. This is definitely a book for the bibliophiles! It might also serve as an introduction to younger readers who may not yet have read the originals. It is by no means a tool to teach the original, but perhaps, a reader may be intrigued enough by the sketch to then read the original it references.

Reading a book like this one also requires a somewhat irreverent sense of humor. If reinterpreting and poking some fun at the classics is not for you, then this is not the book for you. Based on the original texts references, this book is for the serious readers; based on its content, it is for readers open to a little silliness in their lives. If you are both, this is definitely the book for you. Put seriousness aside, and just enjoy it.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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