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Write a literary mash-up, win a laptop!

December 15, 2009

Wish you had thought of mashing up zombies and Jane Austin, thereby producing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, one of the  commercial literary successes of recent times? Here’s your chance to redeem yourself and possibly win, if not fame and fortune, a new laptop.

The folks over at BoingBoing announced just such a contest yesterday. You can win an HP Envy laptop (priced at $1,800) for rewriting a scene from a classic book in the style of another classic book. The contest ends Friday — not much time, but how hard can it be?

Judging from the entries already posted on the site, pretty darned hard. I suggest avoiding  Star Trek, as in the entry in which the crew of the Enterprise finds itself beamed into A Christmas Carole. Too predictable. Also, please, leave Hemingway alone. His terse, declarative style is not as easy as it looks, and the results are usually tepid.

People who take joy in this kind of  cleverness will find much delight in these efforts, even if they do not care to enter the contest themselves. A few of the best, or at least cleverest, so far: Chapter four of Thoreau’s Walden as written by H.P. Lovecraft (“My mind was invaded by the mad squawking of a hooting owl…”).

Someone has mashed up the first chapter of Genesis with the opening paragraph of The Catcher in the Rye (“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is how in the beginning, god created the universe, and how it was all formless and desolate, and all that kind of crap”). There’s also a mash-up of Catcher and Romeo and Juliet.

Hamlet is meshed with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe (“Be all my sins remember’d/ the answer is 42…”) The first lines of One Hundred Years of Solitude recast as the opening of A Tale of Two Cities. Raymond Carver takes a turn at Dracula. Kurt Vonnegut tackles A Christmas Carole. “Peanuts” retells Wuthering Heights.

Some inspired parodist merges The Little Prince with A Clockwork Orange, which would probably get my vote, if I had one (‘There was me, having scatted all smashy-wash in the Desert of Sahara. My plane having been like tolchocked in the blustery sand and I all on my ownsy not having a single droog to give help to the helpless, Oh my brothers. It was real horrorshow, having not enough moloko to peet for even a week”).

And one poor soul, either missing the point or just taking the opportunity to plug one of his favorite writers, offers an exchange, unaltered as far as I can tell, from Terry Bisson’s 1990 short story, “They’re Made Out of Meat.” I mention this only because this is one of the funniest and most heartbreaking sci fi stories ever. Read it in its entirety at Bisson’s website. You’re welcome.

Back to the contest. Some of the entries already posted are pretty darned good. If you want to win that laptop, get cracking. And if you do enter the contest, please post a copy of your mash-up here, in today’s comment section, so the rest of us can enjoy it, too. Best of luck.

Uh, but just to clarify: We’re not giving away a laptop, BoingBoing is. Go to their site to enter the actual contest.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. rachel permalink
    December 15, 2009 1:05 pm

    At least it’s not a whole book. A chapter could be fun, an entire book tiresome and a waste of time. The writer’s and the reader’s. Thanks for another interesting blog Chauncey Mabe.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 15, 2009 3:54 pm

      This is only a scene, not even a whole chapter. Go to the site. Some of the ones already up are pretty smart.

  2. Candice Simmons permalink
    December 15, 2009 1:15 pm

    Sounds like great fun! I’d shoot for Allen Ginsberg and ???. Suggestions, please, Chauncey Mabe!

  3. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    December 15, 2009 3:59 pm

    How about Allen Ginsberg meets Sarah Palin? That’d make the old Beat howl. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed/ by Democrats and moderate Republicans, starving, hysterical naked/ dragging themselves through the Wassilla streets at dawn/ looking for some angry moose jerky/ you betcha…”

  4. alexis permalink
    December 15, 2009 5:53 pm

    too bad i am way too busy to give this a try. i’m not too sure what two things i would combine though…..the count of monte cristo with something…

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 16, 2009 12:35 am

      How about the Count of Monte Cristo with Duma Key? Or Await Your Reply?

      • alexis permalink
        December 16, 2009 9:40 am

        OMG, two great suggestions….or how about The Count with The City and The City?

  5. December 15, 2009 10:25 pm

    I’d try this if my brain wasn’t so fried. Really, it would be a good exercise for any writer, pro or novice.

  6. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    December 16, 2009 12:36 am

    And a new laptop is a decent prize.

  7. December 16, 2009 3:05 am

    Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” as if written by Arthur C. Clarke

    a.k.a ” A Winkle in Time”

    Citizen Van Winkle, or Rip had recently come to the attention of the Grand Galactics. Attention is a poor choice of words. The Grand Galactics had long ago transcended mere attention. Existing (another poor choice of words) for millennium upon millennium as the Grand Galactics had had strengthened their (yet another poor choice of words owing to the fact that the Grand Galactics were simultaneously plural and singular entity or entities) powers of observation to not God-like realms but exactly to God-like levels. Perhaps further.

    Time has also granted another attribute (as well as any other attribute the human mind can consider, ponder, imagine, possess, etc.). to the Grand Galactics. Citizen Van Winkle had piqued their (what I will take liberty in calling, omitting further explanations on my inability to explain and your inability to understand) sense of humor. More accurately, it was Citizen Van Winkle’s wife who made the Grand Galactics laugh. If you could call a noise akin to the sound of static laughter, then Mrs Van Winkle’s reaction to her husbands’ laziness had filled the cosmos with white noise. Rip Van Winkle with his perpetual idleness, Mrs. Winkle with her torrents and volleys of chastisements, The Grand Galactics with their what will have to be termed momentary boredom are on the precipice of union. Resulting in an act of impish malevolence whose ramifications will alter forever Citizen Van Winkle.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 17, 2009 12:24 pm

      Not bad at all, Tommy. I hope you’ve entered this at the BoingBoing website. Thanks for sharing.

      • Tommy permalink
        December 17, 2009 3:50 pm

        Thank You, Chauncey. Not great either, needs more attention. I did submit it on the BoingBoing site.

        Writing (or attempting at least) in another authors’ voice is terribly difficult. Good and fun and stressing exercise that hopefully will lead to a refining of my own voice.

  8. December 16, 2009 2:24 pm

    Do I dare. Do I care. What would I wear if I am on a tear. Win that lap top with no fear. I may even quote King Lear. I am on my way over there. Quite con trere. (may be some improper spelling here). The Adjective Detective is clearly near.. Be ware.

  9. Candice Simmons permalink
    December 16, 2009 8:47 pm

    I like your Ginsberg/Palin mix.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 17, 2009 12:25 pm

      Aw shuck, ma’am. Thank ye, thank ye vurry much.

  10. March 4, 2010 1:32 pm

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  11. December 9, 2010 9:05 am

    Thanks for the article that was very informative. Great laptop bag can add a value to your laptop and save your laptop from all scratches.

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