Friday, May 14, 2010

Vampires vs Werewolves vs...Little Women?

Yes, the age-old battle of the monster titans has found common ground once more. You thought Twilight was a big deal? Try an all-or-nothing brawl as they both sink their equally destructive teeth into the same American Classic!

Now, unless you've been hiding under a rock, or haven't been to a bookstore in the last, oh, 6 months, you should have noticed the surge of, what I call, Monster Adaptations. What happens in most cases is, rather than paraphrasing the story, the co-writing author takes the original text, cuts out pieces and adds in that extra flair of...well, monsters. What started out as a novelty idea in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has resulted in a prequel and even more adaptations, such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and even Jane Slayer!

What some see as a degradation of classic literature, others see as a new way to get kids interested in literature. Remember how it used to be adapting classic works into comic books? But, be you for or against it this trend is picking up speed.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bookstore...here come more literary monster mashups! You can drive a stake into its heart, shoot it full of silver bullets and bury it under six feet of dirt, but this publishing trend Just. Won’t. Die. Now it’s Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale, that’s getting monsterized. And not just once, but twice. Available now, Little Women and Werewolves by Porter Grand and Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina take the well-known tale of Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy and add in a healthy serving of the unknown. Last week, Grand and Messina held a discussion with Alcott scholar and Pulitzer Prize-winner John Matteson about the book, the supernatural and mash-ups in general.

Both authors said they were impressed with how much the original text stood up to their fiddling. “When writing it, the biggest thing was realizing how strong the book was on its own,” said Messina. “I thought that adding vampires to it was going to change everything, but I was amazed at how little it actually changed.”

Grand spoke at length about Alcott’s own supernatural and blood-and-guts proclivities. Writing under the nom de plume A.M. Barnard, the otherwise demure author published a number of adventurous and murder-filled novels and stories, although these weren’t discovered until years after her death. “My goal when I was writing Little Women and Werewolves was to stay true to Alcott,” Grand said. “I really wanted to write it the way I think she would have written it if she had decided to insert werewolves into it.” While she admits that some rabid fans may take umbrage at their work (Matteson recounted a story of his own in which a certain Little Crazywoman sent him an 11-page letter calling him a heretic and threatening to burn him at the stake), Grand thinks Alcott herself would be “flattered, amused and delighted” at these tweakings of her most famous tome.

Messina admitted that she knows the mash-up craze won’t last forever, but she’s happy to get while the getting’s good. “It’s going to run its course,” she said. “I thought it was going to eventually tap out with Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, but I Googled it and it was already a movie!”
~ Keith Staskiewicz of EW

Adaptations? Mash-ups? Degradations? What do you think? Below are the summaries of this latest target and its two adaptations. Read through and give your opinion.


Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Amazon
  ~ Powell's
Alcott's original work explores the overcoming of character flaws. Many of the chapter titles in this first part are allusions to the allegorical concepts and places in Pilgrim's Progress. When young, the girls played Pilgrim's Progress by taking an imaginary journey through their home. As young women, they agree to continue the figurative journey, using the "guidebooks" — copies of the New Testament, described as "that beautiful old story of the best life ever lived"; they receive on Christmas morning. Each of the March girls must struggle to overcome a character flaw: Meg, vanity; Jo, a hot temper; Beth, shyness; and Amy, selfishness.

In the course of the novel, the girls become friends with their next-door neighbor, the teenage boy Laurie. The book depicts the light hearted, often humorous activities of the sisters and their friend, such as creating a newspaper and picnicking, and the various "scrapes" that Jo and Laurie get into. Jo consistently struggles with the boundaries 19th century society placed on females, including not being able to fight in a war, not being able to attend college, and being pressured by her Aunt March to find a suitable husband to take care of her.


Little Vampire Women
Louisa May Alcott and Lynn Messina
Amazon
  ~ Powell's
"Christmas wont be Christmas without any corpses."

The dear, sweet March sisters are back, and Marmee has told them to be good little women. Good little vampire women, that is. That's right: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy have grown up since you last read their tale, and now they have (much) longer lives and (much) more ravenous appetites.

Marmee has taught them well, and so they live by an unprecedented moral code of abstinence . . . from human blood. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy must learn to get along with one another, help make society a better place, and avoid the vampire hunters who pose a constant threat to their existence. Plus, Laurie is dying to become a part of the March family, at any cost. Some things never change.

This horrifying—and hilarious—retelling of a timeless American classic will leave readers craving the bloodthirsty drama on each and every page.


Little Women and Werewolves
Louisa May Alcott and Porter Grand
Amazon ~ Powell's

A literary landmark—the original, suppressed draft of the classic novel!

Little Women is a timeless classic. But Louisa May Alcott’s first draft—before her editor sunk his teeth into it—was even better. Now the original text has at last been exhumed. In this uncensored version, the March girls learn some biting lessons, transforming from wild girls into little women—just as their friends and neighbors transform into vicious, bloodthirsty werewolves!

Here are tomboy Jo, quiet Beth, ladylike Amy, and good-hearted Meg, plus lovable neighbor Laurie Laurence, now doomed to prowl the night on all fours, maiming and devouring the locals. As the Civil War rages, the girls learn the value of being kind, the merits of patience and grace, and the benefits of knowing a werewolf who can disembowel your teacher.

By turns heartwarming and blood-curdling, this rejuvenated classic will be cherished and treasured by those who love a lesson in virtue almost as much as they enjoy a good old-fashioned dismemberment.

Includes the original letter from Alcott’s editor, telling her not to even think about it!


So? Gonna bite? Which would you rather read? Vampires? Werewolves? Or are you more of a traditionalist?

And what about the trend in general? Are you ready to see it stop? Or are you ready for more?