I'm taking a break from grading, compiling a selected bibliography for the sermons article, reviewing an MA thesis, prepping for Monday's classes, and writing a Serious Blog Post (I'm sure I can think of something else I'm avoiding...) in order to gripe. Gripe about what, you ask? (So good of you to ask.) I cannot possibly be alone in being turned off by books described as "X meets Y." In fact, I know I'm not alone, because Thomas Sutcliffe penned a mildly exasperated article on this very subject--eleven years ago. As marketing strategies go, "meets" makes perfect sense, but it has the unappetizing side effect of turning the author into the intellectual equivalent of an eggbeater.
Still, I can think of a number of meet-ups with great commercial potential:
- As I Lay Waiting for My Dearie: William Faulkner meets Brigadoon. In the early twenty-first century, two American bloggers in search of "the real Scotland" stumble over a decaying village, seething with sexual shenanigans and domestic hatreds. Told by multiple first-person narrators, the dominant voice belongs to the dead Harry Beaton, still enraged that he was killed off with the worst lyric in the history of musical theater* ("Lads, say a prayer; I'm afraid Harry Beaton is dead./Looks like he fell on a rock and it crushed in his head").
- Wives and Daughters and Sons and Lovers: Elizabeth Gaskell meets D. H. Lawrence. Set in an American "living museum" devoted to the nineteenth century, the novel charts the doomed passion of Molly, a naive female docent (and daughter of a college professor) for Roger, the aspiring actor (and trust fund baby). Sure to be controversial for its scenes of wild passion in a reconstructed schoolhouse.
- A Tale of Two Fight Clubs: Charles Dickens meets Chuck Palahniuk. A young lawyer sacrifices his life for his look-a-like after first beating him to a pulp.
- Tom Brown's Blood and Guts at Oxford: Thomas Hughes meets Kathy Acker. Provocative pomo rewriting of Tom Brown at Oxford, in which our hero goes on a rampage at High Table with a transvestite Thomas Arnold. Incorporates long passages from the original text--which nobody has read, anyway.
- Are You There, God? It's Me, Vlad: Bram Stoker meets Judy Blume. Tender YA novel about a young vampire, hovering on the brink of eternal adolescence. Includes lengthy meditations on universal teenage difficulties, such as maintaining basic hygiene without use of a mirror, attracting the opposite sex while draining their bodies of blood, and keeping garlic away from one's coffin.
- All My Railway Children of the Corn: Edith Nesbit meets Stephen King meets Agnes Nixon. In Pine Valley, three youngsters (relocated from New York after someone falsely accuses their father of substituting Linux for Windows on the company PCs) amuse themselves by watching the locals use the trains to commit the seven deadly sins...until they realize that the cute little kids down the road are taking the town's oldest inhabitants on long walks, from which they never return.
- Emma, My Gun is Quick: Jane Austen meets Mickey Spillane. A hardboiled detective goes on the rampage after a young woman with matchmaking tendencies is brutally murdered, setting the stage for shoot-em-ups at tea parties, a furniture-busting fistfight on a piano, and, finally, a brutal death during a picnic.
*--Others agree with me.