PRESENTING: THE SUPER REMIXED COUNT OF MONTECRISTO!!!

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Dear Imaginary Reader:

SO, I am a complete failure at self-advertising (my idea of pushing my stuff is close to: “I have a book. It’s terrible, I’m sure….You don’t have to read this… I mean… I wish you would… But I understand… You’re busy… Reading is for nerds… Oh Gosh I’m so sorry for Having Wasted Your Time… This is so embarrassing…“)  That said, my new book,

THE SUPER REMIXED COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO 

is now available for sale at Amazon!!! I’m kind of excited to share it with y’all, and I hope it’s the beginning of a longer journey for us. I say “new book” with some hesitation because, as some of you may know, the project took a few years to complete. (Time-Traveling Memo to Self About Seven Years Ago: Maybe Don’t Tackle a 1,350 Page Novel as an Inexperienced Young Fool!)

Anyway. There it is. I hope you buy it, rent it, check it out, steal it, I don’t care, as long as you read it and it makes you smile. If it doesn’t make you smile, then my revenge shall be slow, methodical, and implacable. You have been warned.

Below, is the Prologue, in case you haven’t read along with some of my earlier, less polished experiments like The Super Remixed Marie Antoinette Saga (now in the process of being renovated from the ground up, so as to make it actually presentable to human eyes):

PROLOGUES AND EXPLANATIONS

Q: What the heck is “THE SUPER REMIXED ™ COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO”?

A: It’s Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo,” the famed and perpetually popular epic saga of revenge, intrigue, and redemption! Except now it has been SUPER REMIXED ™ by me, Hans. That’s self—explanatory, peeps!

Q: Ok. So is this Fanfiction?

A: ALL OF LITERATURE IS FANFICTION. No book ever issued unsullied out of some artsy abyss. Writers do what they do because at some point in their susceptible youths they read SOMETHING and their reaction was: “Well, I want to write THAT…but MY WAY. And I want X to have sex with Y instead of with Z.”

The rest is just a magician’s act of misdirection, usually accomplished by merging two or maybe three of the writer’s favorite obsessions. If something ever strikes you as truly “original,” it might be that it’s merging FOUR of the writer’s obsessions into some unholy “original” mix. Say, a novel that simultaneously honors James Joyce, Star Trek (and specifically DS9), Rumiko Takahashi’s “Inuyasha”, and the Ramayana. Go ahead and give that mix a try! You’re bound to win a National Book Award and / or  puzzle people with your dazzling originality!

There is no shame in fanfiction. Go back as far as you can, to “Genesis”— and that’s already Sumerian fanfiction. John Milton’s ”Paradise Lost”? “Genesis” fanfiction. Dante’s “Divine Comedy”? Basically a feverish mash—up of the “Book of Revelations” and Virgil’s “The Aeneid.” “The Aeneid,” of course, it’s Homer fanfiction. There’s hardly a Shakespeare play that didn’t start as someone else’s characters and situations. Willy just contributed his iambic pentameter, his incredibly filthy jokes, and…you know… his unrivaled poetic genius.

Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” often gets shouted out as the “First Western Novel”— and it’s already a loving parody of “Amadis de Gaula.” Which borrowed its best bits from the “Matter of Britain.”

(As an aside, do yourself a favor and check out DQ’s wondrous Chapter 6, in which we get a glimpse of the many works of fanfiction “Amadis” inspired: “Son of Amadis” “Amadis of Greece!” “The Return of the Son of Amadis!”)

So to reiterate,  it’s fanfiction turtles all the way down.

Except this. This is not fanfiction.

Q: But you just said…

A: Next question.

Q: So fine, if it’s not fanfiction, what is it? A parody?

A: Nope. A parody attempts to imitate certain exaggerated features of a writer’s style, usually for the purposes of mockery. There are MOMENTS of parody within, but this is not, overall, parodic of Dumas’ style. There’s plenty of other places for that.

Q: Ugh. Is it an abridgment, then?

A: Good question! You would think so, right? But not exactly. The main purpose of an abridgment is to make things shorter, and the main purpose of this enterprise was to make things… weirder, I guess? I may actually have EXPANDED upon some sections. Also, I hate abridgments and find them sacrilegious. It’s a SUPER REMIX ™, I told ya!

Q: Can you further discuss what you consider to be the similarities and differences between SUPER REMIXES ™, fanfiction, homages, pastiches, remakes, sequels, parodies, retellings, up—datings, and reboots?

A: I *CAN* but then my Portobello and Pesto Panini would go uneaten, and that would make me hostile. It’s almost lunchtime, you know.

Q: What would you say to your Dear Imaginary Readers who wonder why they should read something so familiar? I mean, SPOILER, the COUNT ESCAPES PRISON AND GETS HIS REVENGE!

A: I say there are FOUR Great Reasons:

  1. If you’ve never read “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and don’t know what awaits, then you’re just a lucky critter, because you’re about to jump into one of the most timeless, powerful, thrilling, immersive novels of all time, except now it has 27% more baguette jokes. I wish I could be you!!!
  2. If you HAVE read it, then here’s your chance to experience it entirely anew in a SUPER REMIXED ™ version that nonetheless hopes to retain everything that made you fall in love the first time.
  3. If you started to read it at some point and somehow your eyes glazed over when you saw the cast of characters was 10 pages long… I getcha! The times have a—changed! This is speedy, accessible and with 1/3rd the literary calories.
  4. If you started to read it and somehow your eyes glazed over and you were like: “Forget it, I’ll Netflix the movie” and now you think you know the plot…YOU KNOW NOTHING, JEAN NEIGE. No wimpy 2—hour movie can do justice to the tangled web the Count weaves. None of the versions even try: they keep the premise, a couple of early scenes, and then abandon the plot altogether. Except that anime where the Count was a psychedelically inspired alien-elf. That one was exactly what Dumas envisioned, obviously.

Q: Who’s Auguste Maquet, aka Auggy Mack?

          A: Dumas’ main homey. Maquet collaborated with Dumas during the intensely prolific period that saw “Monte Cristo”, “The Three Musketeers Epic,” “The Valois Trilogy,” “The Marie Antoinette Saga,” and a handful of other gems like “The Black Tulip,” “Olympe de Cleves,” and “The Bastard of Mauleon.” Maquet was far from Dumas’ only collaborator. His collaborators number the dozen, and of note are Gerard Nerval, the Countess Dash, and not one but three Pauls: Paul Bocage, Paul Lacroix, Paul Meurice. Think of it like a television show. Very rarely does the creator actually write every single episode by themselves- they have a writer’s room!- and Dumas was very much a showrunner. It is safe to say, though, that Dumas’ biggest novelistic hits were with Maquet. The Mack kept Alex on schedule with tight outlines and historical research, on top of which Dumas added his wit and flair. Also, you can bet Maquet was the one in charge of keeping the coffee hot on the pot.

Q: How many volumes will there be?

A: I love the concept of the serial, the “roman feuilleton.” In classic Dumasian tradition, there will be 5 volumes: “The Fall,” “The Rise,” “Patience and Faith,” “Deaths,” and “Resurrections.” They will be released every three months for your reading delectation. I’m hungry, let’s wrap this up.

Q: No one reads prologues anyway. Why is this one so long?

A: It’s a long project, it deserves a long prologue. I have a lot more to say, but you may be right, I’ll save the rest for an equally long epilogue.

Q: Speaking of long: what possessed you to tackle one of the longest novels of all time? Ambition? Hubris?

A: I may have bit off more than I can chew.

Q: Yeah! What were you thinking, you fool?!?

A: I was talking about my Portobello and Pesto Panini! This Prologue is over!

 

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Periodo Especial : Yousi Mazpule- “Jinetera”

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It’s hard to describe the Cuban “Special Period” to an American audience. The best comparison is that of  a concentration camp overlord that suddenly announces over speaker-phones : “Dear campers. Remember how our government promised everybody would be delivered their daily bread? We are now officially entering a special period in which that is no longer true. We do not know how long this period will last. We suggest you collect rain water. Some animals eat grass and they seem to be ok with it. Ants are known to contain proteins. Use your imagination. All food supplies will be diverted to the tourism industry. Good luck!”  “Jinetera: Story of a Cuban Prostitute” by Yousi Mazpule, is the propulsive account of how thousands of young women in Havana gave themselves to sex tourism as their only hope of escaping extreme poverty, seen through the eyes of young Milena Campos, whose gradual descent into prostitution and eventual emergence as an individual is told with journalistic perspicacity. Perfect encapsulation of one of the darkest moments in Cuban history.

Messy Messiah : Hernan Rivera Letelier – “The Art of Resurrection”

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Chilean author Hernan Rivera Letelier introduces us to the unkempt Christ of Elqui, a rather mundane Messiah spreading pamphlets on the pampas while being openly mocked by both followers and unbelievers. One day, however, he hears the tale of Magalena Mercado, a prostitute both talented and pious, and the Christ of Elqui decides to fall in love with this Dulcinea, against the sordid background of Chilean saltpeter mining, (controlled by the strike-stomping Yankees, of course). The prose, delightful in its appropriation of vulgar small town slang, is at its worst when it plays with an artsy device where the third and first narration starts to melt into each other (as in: “He glanced up, but the sun burnt my eyes mercilessly. He tightened his eyelids. I recalled my mama told me not to look in the sights of the sun, even if that’s where all the fun is.”) This isn’t followed consistently enough to matter- and in fact it’s used inconsistently enough to make one wonder if an editor snoozed- or if there was an editor. Nothing much “magical” happens, but magical realism fans will feel at home in a world that riffs on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Benito Perez Galdos’ “Nazarin,” (via the Luis Bunuel adaptation), and “Simon of the Desert” to boot, (Alfaguara’s cover uses a still from Bunuel’s film both perfectly and lazily) That’s Alfaguara! They’re somehow the World’s Most Perfect and Yet Laziest Book Cover Designers.  

Class Acts : Elizabeth George – “A Great Deliverance” and “Payment in Blood” (Linley and Havers #1, 2)

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Elizabeth George’s “A Great Deliverance” is 1st in the now classic Thomas Linley / Barbara Havers series. A Yorkshire farmhouse beheading unearths all those hideous secrets every small British town seems to have by the score. Re-reading this I got a sharper sense of stultifying Brit classism that went over my head when I first read this years ago becoming a fan. George’s writing is always literate and evocative, Linley and Havers’ partnership starts promisingly, but the mystery itself goes nowhere that isn’t obvious. (And George’s constant reminders of how Havers’ every girl plainness is supposed to contrast with Linley’s aristocratic studliness get annoying quick.)

In “Payment in Blood,” a thespian troupe gathers at a Scottish estate to go over a talented playwright’s latest- and last- work: she is stabbed to her mattress in the middle of a busy night, and nearly everyone in the cast looks suspicious, from rival actors to roaming lovers. DI Thomas Lynley and his “frumpy,” middle class sidekick Barbara Havers are at it again, bickering about class while unraveling a tangled web that echo back to the Profumo politician sex scandals of the 60s- which were brought to the stage not long ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Stephen Ward” musical. Elizabeth George is American but attuned to how class in the U. K. divides more than money, but Havers is relentlessly self-righteous, basically barking at the overly-perfect Linley every time he breathes.”Look at Your Lordship, so fancy, using your lungs left and right! Did they teach THAT at Eton, you privileged scum?!?” This is all supposed to be cover for how Havers’ detective notebook is full of “Barbie Hearts Tommy” doodles, but it comes across as obsessive unwarranted prejudice, and one ends up disliking Havers’ pettiness: “Maybe he IS too classy for you, ladette, go back to Dagenham!”

Double Double-Oh-Seven : John Gardner – “For Special Services” and “Icebreaker”

John Gardner- “For Special Services.” SPECTRE- and Blofeld- were over. James Bond, former 007, had strangled his arch-enemy with his own hands. So why is it that a gathering of villains are attempting to lure Bond to the United States? Bond takes the bait, and accompanied by Cedar Leiter, the daughter of Bond’s old CIA contact, Felix Leiter, winds up in the States pretending to be an art connoisseur carrying valuable Hogarth prints- which attracts the attention of one Markus Bismaquer, millionaire print aficionado. Here, SPECTRE works with killer pythons in ways that would have pleased Fantomas- the two are etymologically linked for a reason. Also, there are Space Wolves, which unfortunately are not literal Space Wolves but merely satellites. Also, also, there is ice cream that makes people docile and subservient to hierarchical commands. Also, also, also Bond has sex with a one breasted woman, which is the kind of gentle / bizarre touch that Bond movies cannot touch.  At the end, the story goes into “Manchurian Candidate” territory. FUN!

Bond helping the Commies? In “Icebreaker,” Cold War gets to a freezing point when 007 lands near the Arctic circle in order to stop a neo-Nazi movement that is being supplied by a Finnish arms dealer. And how does a sexy Mossad agent fit into it all? How does Bond fit into the sexy Mossad agent? The book delights in paranoia, as Bond has to triple and quadruple guess everyone’s allegiances. Gardner is adept at grounding Fleming’s often unbelievable hero with state-of-the-80s-art technology, and then burying the gadgets  under any number of luxurious fashion items.

Grieving Ladies : James Hadley Chase – “Lady Here’s Your Wreath” and “Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief”

lady“Lady, Here’s Your Wreath”: After learning that a death row convict has been framed, tough guy reporter Nick Mason falls for a soft girl called Mardi; Mardi disappears, and Nick has to deal with Blondie, a dame that’s tougher than him. Then Mardi reappears, proving there’s no such thing as a soft girl in James Hadley Chase’s world. 

 

 

 

miss“Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief”: On a hot summer night, three men sneak into the well-refrigerated city morgue to escape the heat. There, the pervs ogle the corpse of the titular Miss… and hypothesize about the tragic story behind the demise. Another great, gross, lurid Chaser.