Author: Mallory Ortberg
Genre: Fiction (Humor / Inspired By / Classic Literature)
Publisher/Publication Date: Henry Holt and Co. (11/3/2014)
Source: The publisher.
Did I finish?: Yeah, I did.
One-sentence summary: More than sixty poems, novels, and authors of classic and contemporary Western lit recast as a series of hilarious text messages.
Do I like the cover?: I do -- it captures precisely the feel of this.
First line: MEG
MEG WHAT'S ALL THIS
WHAT'S ALL THIS I'M HEARING ABOUT YOUR GETTING MARRIED
tell me it's a wretched lie, from Little Women (p120)
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy!
Why did I get this book?: I have a soft spot for humor books that take on classic lit.
Review: Here's my one sentence review: this book is so hilarious, it's coming with me to the delivery room for when I need a laugh. (My midwife says laughing helps relieve pain and anxiety).
This deliciously irreverent volume re-imagines classic and favorite books, poems, and authors from Western literature and recasts them as a series of text messages. Featuring over sixty pieces, each just a few pages long, characters and story arcs are distilled into snarky, silly, and sublime extremes: Rochester is a passionate suitor who texts in all caps; Ned Nickerson keeps harassing Nancy Drew while she works on her investigations; Byron and Hamlet are laughably pathetic while Circe and Scarlett O'Hara are delusional divas.
Although I'm familiar with many (but not all) of the works featured, I found everything laugh-out-loud funny. My wife and I took turns reading this aloud to each other, but had to quit because we literally couldn't breathe at certain points, and I do truly intend to bring this into the delivery room with me because I can't not read Henry David Thoreau without dissolving into hysterics every time.
Ortberg takes what is absurd about our favorite characters and authors and emphasizes it in ways I think many readers already have. The inspiration for this book came from a piece on The Hairpin, when someone commented that her small town life was like Gone With the Wind but with cell phones. The format works because we all know people (or have read transcripts) of text messages so self-absorbed and so ludicrous, one can't help but laugh.
Fans of humor sites like Damn You Auto Correct! and The Toast will love this, as well as lit fans who don't mind their beloved classics being played with. This is a fun volume to have on hand for dinner parties or on the nightstand -- it's easy to dip into and is delicious, nerdy fun.
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I'm thrilled to be able to offer THREE copies of Texts from Jane Eyre to my readers! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 11/14. See my Giveaway Policy for complete rules.