Sunday, March 7, 2010

In Which Trai Realizes The Alcott Sanctum Has Been Violated

Greetings, all. I haven't done a book-related rant since the first day or so I started this blog and I feel this is in order now. Bear with me.

They're starting to touch Louisa.

By they, I mean the monster mashers. I introduced The Monster Mash in my last post, the review of Dawn of the Dreadfuls. But I don't just mean the monster mashers-- I mean the other trend that is starting to invade fiction, the taking of author's lives and making them into romantic historical fiction.

I recently learned about two books-- Little Vampire Women (yes, SERIOUSLY) and The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. The first invoked mild dismay and a tiny bit of a laugh, and the second just made me wonder if Alcott is going to become the new Austen in terms of fictionalizations.

Little Vampire Women at first horrified me-- Little Women is one of my absolute favorite books. I still have the desire to one day be a tour guide at Orchard House. I still seriously consider moving to Concord because I just love it there. I wrote my college essay on my visit to Orchard House and how much Jo inspired me. I know every word to the Little Women musical and I've seen it on stage twice. So how in the name of Alcott can they add vampires to the story? (As I write this, I looked up the book on Amazon and guess what? Little Women and Werewolves is coming out on the same day. I feel a pre-order coming on...)

It brings to mind an episode of Friends-- Rachel's favorite book is Little Women and Joey's is The Shining. They decide to read each other's favorites and Joey asks Rachel, "So these little women. Are they like scary little?" I'm wondering if the motivation for these two adaptations is making boys read the book, as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has done for Pride and Prejudice.

At first, I had that horror-filled reaction. But then I realized, Louisa probably wouldn't be as dismayed as we imagine Jane to be. Louisa wrote potboilers to bring money to the household, and it appears she really enjoyed it. One wonders if she really enjoyed writing the moral tales she is most known for-- so one also wonders if she would get a chuckle out of her work being usurped by vampires and werewolves. I guess as long as they don't sparkle, I'm fine with it. [/obligatory put-down of Twilight]

The Lost Summer book, however, I'm still trying to wrap my head around. It's recently become all the rage with Austen-- trying to surmise who could've been the "real-life Mr. Darcy." With Alcott, I'm sure people want to know the "real-life Laurie." I've been to Orchard House and I got my answer on that one by asking a tour guide-- Alcott took traits of two close male friends and combined them to make Laurie. Bam. That's it. But of course, since Alcott died unmarried, everyone wants to give her some romance in her life. It can't be that she thought up Laurie and Professor Bhaer on her own, just like Austen made up all her heroes-- no. It's always got to be that the female author just HAD to have a man in her life.

I'll admit, after I visited Orchard House, I had a grand vision of one day writing a historical fiction book about Louisa. I really connected with Jo and, by extension, with Louisa (hence the college essay). I'm sure I entertained the idea of giving Alcott a Laurie of her own, but I'm just annoyed by the idea of most historical fiction writers that there just had to be a man in the lives of authors who were brilliant without them.

I don't want to complain about things I haven't read. So yes, I'm going to pre-order the Little Women monster mashups. Later this week, I'll order The Lost Summer and offer my verdict as soon as I get a chance to read it. But until then, I'm going to be the Sole Defender of Alcott, and darned proud of it.

- Trai

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