Next on the Reading List:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, the first of a series of literary mash-ups that might be one of the cleverest ways modern publishing has found to trick readers into rediscovering the classics. Where teachers and reading guides and websites can certainly tell you what these books originally accomplished, representing them in new and interesting ways is a step in expanding the current horizons of those who can't help but giggle at the otherwise absurd proposition set before them. That is to say, aside from the fact that P&P&Z quickly led to an avalanche of curiously derivative knockoffs, thereby potentially weakening its impact, there's much to say about the unexpected twist our increasingly irreverent world has now afforded jaded readers, like Mystery Science Theater 3000 but with a less cynical outlook (seriously, this show became popular by filming wisecracks to old movies?).
In other other words, it's a fun diversion at the very least, and an odd twist on the latest trend in the List.
Speaking of which, Looking Backward was certainly interesting to a point, but Bellamy was obviously not much of a literary talent. He spends most of the book cataloguing in precise detail a future reality he doesn't in the end explore all that much. It's like watching C-SPAN, I guess, or a talking head documentary, for those who can't stand watching just watching people talk. There's a good reason this book was basically forgotten. It had good intentions, but even its ideas of good ideas sound ridiculous, even a decade after the year it became clear Bellamy's predictions - or hopes - obviously didn't come true. Did anyone seriously order a sequel to the Gilded Age? If anything, someone could write a literary mash-up of this one, make it suck less, and hopefully inspire everyone all over again...