I admit it—I’m a classical reader. I like my Jane Austen pure and I don’t want my Bronte tainted. Well, that’s not really true. I love the Stephanie Barron series of Jane Austen mysteries but she pays homage to the writer and presents her as a clear-eyed, practical and highly logical character who can solve mysteries using her wits alone. However, I must draw the line at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance--Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem That’s just too weird for me.
So, imagine my surprise to see that the best selling book for this quarter for Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore is Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer by the same author, Seth Grahame-Smith. Is nothing sacred?
I dropped by the store to ask owner Augie Alesky why he thought the book sold so well.
“The writing is very good,” he said.
What? How can the writing be very good. That just can’t be true.
But he insisted that it was. He also said that he has signed, first editions of the book and that many, many people have enjoyed it.
I was skeptical but paying customers came into the store at that point and he went to assist them with their selection. One of the customers, a young woman, saw the Abraham Lincoln title I was looking at and mentioned that she’d read the Jane Austen.
Why, I asked? Jane Austen is perfect. Why would anyone mess with her prose or plot?
Well, this person answered, she hadn’t like Austin when she’d been forced to read her in high school English. She especially hadn’t like the characters, so she was glad when they were eaten. She then went on to explain that the addition of cheesy characters like werewolves or vampires freshened the plot and made it more interesting to read. She said she felt like she had read, or in some cases, reread the books, but they were more fun with paranormal characters.
I suggested it was like setting Mozart to a disco beat and she agreed. She was probably too young to experience first-hand the sacrilege that was visited upon classical music in the eighties, but she understood the concept and embraced it without shame.
So prepare yourself for more of this literary conceit. Pretend it is fresh and fun.