Tuesday, 14 October 2008


These are old posts, but I was pleased to see they're still around: from Making Light (the weblog of writers and editors Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden), A Houseful of Lords, Part 1 / Part 2. These are a selection of The Lord of the Rings pastiches prompted by a thread on Straight Dope Message Board "started when someone idly asked how Lord of the Rings would have turned out if it had been written by Ernest Hemingway". Read the Making Light selections if you want to play "guess the author" - otherwise, the full Straight Dope thread is here. Fans of Samuel R Delany - of whom more soon - might be amused by my effort:

The door to Bag End deliquesced, and the derelict lurched into the hall.

He was an old man. He was a strong man. Must be Gandalf, Frodo thought. Dresses like Gandalf, grey robed, a rope holding up his torn grey pants. And his eyes. (Orcs’ eyes?).

"You, boy. Are you Frodo Baggins?"

Frodo fingered the dirt between his hairy toes. Wanting to say "no" he began a "yes".

The codger flapped out a hand (a sack of magic-ruined knuckles) and caught a chair. “We were moving out, boy, the lights of Minas Tirith like a puddle of molten mithril on our left, the black of Mordor on our right. We’d turned off the palantir so we were flying blind. Then, centred on the dark, an Eye! It reached out, brighter than the elven-glass of Galadriel, grabbed our attention so we couldn’t look away.”

Frodo got the words ready in his mouth, excuse me, huh? I gotta go.

Gandalf coughed, spat red. "The Eye was Sauron’s. He took us this close" - his thumb brushed his forefinger (nail bitten to the quick) - "this close to Mount Doom. You can damn him, and damn the One Ring for that, boy, whoever you are!"

Unconnected, more pastiche (originally recommended to me in 2006 by Felix Grant) Holy Tango Anthology of Literature by Francis Heaney. ''Holy Tango'' etc is an online selection of literary parodies whose titles are anagrams of the author's name. The collection is also available in print form, but Heaney explains that the publishers have kindly let him give it away free in e-form as a promotion. Highlights include Likable Wilma, a poem in praise of Wilma Flintstone in the style of William Blake's Tiger, Tiger; Dammit, Dave, the final dialogue between Hal 9000 and Dave Bowman as written by David Mamet; and Bake Me Cutlets (Becket's Waiting for Godot done as a cookery show, complete with parody of Lucky's famous monologue).

The latter reminds me to recommend again The Book of Sequels (Henry Beard, Christopher Cerf, Sarah Durkee and Sean Kelly, 1991 - Random House in USA, Angus & Robertson in UK), which is easily and inexpensively findable on the secondhand circuit. See Adam E Pachter's Harvard Crimson review, Once Again: A Book of Sequels ("this book mocks contemporary society's penchant for ridiculous follow-ups ... "Raise the Pequod" is a an exquisite parody, both humorous and accurate, and most of The Book of Sequels rises to this standard"). The New York Times review called it "the brightest and funniest satirical book of the moment". My personal favourite sections include Godot Action Comics, the TS Eliot Wasteland theme park (with its Prufrock's Beach and Phlebas the Phoenician Phlume Ride), and the cover mockup for Pride and Extreme Prejudice, which introduces a new Bennet sister, "Dirty" Harriet, who won the hearts of Jane Austen fans by forestalling an insult from Lady Catherine de Bourgh with a cool

"I have no objection, your ladyship, to your proceeding, since, by so doing, you shall render my afternoon quite agreeable."

- Ray

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