Friday, July 9, 2010

The saga continues...

...the saga of reading humorous library books. A fresh batch came in this week, notable titles that are all living up to their promise.

Let's start with "Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float" by Sarah Schmelling, one of the more offbeat books so far. The title refers to a Facebook attribute where members can join with like-minded souls on practically any subject or special interest you can imagine. I belong to various groups, including one named "When I read your status, I mentally correct your grammar mistakes." I belong because I actually do that. (I don't scoff at the mistakes, I just notice them and think Hm, that's not right.)

The book offers Facebook pages of books, plays, authors, and literary characters, with status updates, news feeds, profile info, the works. Juliet Capulet's relationship status is "It's complicated." Jane Austen has 4,537 pending friend requests. On an author's wall: Edgar Allan Poe is reading a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

Hamlet's Facebook page is one of the best. You get the whole play through the News Feed. In fact, on a reviewer wrote this about the entire book: "It's like super-cliffs notes for the Facebook generation." James Joyce has a page. So does Oscar Wilde and Dr. Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll is not himself these days.) You'll find "Little Women", "This House of Mirth", and "Great Expectations."

"Ophelia.." isn't a book to read straight through. It's better if you simply dip into it here and there. And it's best if you're familiar with classic literature and use Facebook, otherwise some of it won't make much sense. For example, a sequence from Hamlet:

Hamlet posts an Event: A Play That's Totally Fictional and in No Way About My Family
The King comments "What is wrong with you?"
Polonius thinks this curtain looks like a good thing to hide behind.
Polonius is no longer online.
Hamlet added England to the Places I've Been application.

If you don't use Facebook, those five lines won't be as entertaining as they truly are.

This book also reminds me of a webcomic, Hark A Vagrant, which takes classic (and not so classic) literature and irreverently shakes it up a bit.

"Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float." An unusual book that will make you smile.

Overheard on Twitter: Not really sure of the protocol. I mean, do I bring my OWN rubber chicken or are they provided?

Next time: Brits behaving badly. Stay tuned.

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