By Alexander Aciman & Emmett Rensin
Paperback, 201 pages
From the cover: amalgamation of “twitter” and “literature”; humorous reworkings of literary classics for the twenty-first century intellect, in digestible portions of 20 tweets or fewer.
If you, dear reader, like me, thought you’d be delving into a clever and witty little book of old texts reborn with a modern twist via social media, then you, like me, would be incredibly disappointed. I expected that this book would reflect an appreciation and understanding of the classics with modern-day insights from the characters within the novels. I expected to chuckle or even laugh when reading this (as I often do when reading jokes on my current Twitter timeline). In short, I expected too much from this book.
What I received (fortunately in exchange for less than $3.50 courtesy of Book Outlet) instead, was a crass, harshly satiric and mildly offensive batch of tweets that don’t honor the original works. Let me preface the rest of this review by saying I don’t mind vulgar language or content, when appropriate to the work, nor do I mind my favorite classics being adapted into clever retellings (Pride, Prejudice and Zombies anyone?) or even poked fun at.
Twitterature seems to simply mercilessly make fun of or criticize the classics within, dubbing the originals as overly long and boring. In their introduction Aciman and Rensin touch on how the classics are outdated and hard to understand and that this book strives to remedy that by “present[ing] their most essential elements, distilled into the voice of Twitter.” They strive to give us “the means to absorb the strong voices, valuable lessons and stylistic innovations of the Greats without the burdensome duty of hours spent reading.” I think, in hindsight, that maybe their introduction is a bad joke as well.
I also want to say that I did not read this entire book – after reading the first three sections (Catcher in the Rye, The Da Vinci Code and Paradise Lost), I quickly grasped that this book was not at all what I thought it would be and I then proceeded to skip to books I’m familiar with. What’s the point in reading something that tears apart a work I’ve never read? But let me highlight some of the more bothersome tweets:
From Pride and Prejudice – “Isn’t it cool how I’m defying my gender role by standing up for myself?”
“He and I are wed and have moved to our own home in the country. I got the man, his money, and uh…women’s power!”
From Alice in Wonderland – “I don’t know what’s going on, but in a typically feminine manner, I’ll allow confusion and being flustered to make me cry up a storm.”
“I found a stoner Arab caterpillar. He made fun of me. Oh yeah? At least I’m not three inches tall with a case of the munchies.”
From Twilight – “Pretty boy is a vampire. A bit obvious, but I still feel such a hormonal pull. He’s pure pussy magnet.”
“My life lately has been a bit like a lonely girl’s slightly creepy juvenile sex fantasy. But at least it really happened!!!”
Last, and featuring what I found to be most offensive, from Jane Eyre – “I wish my parents had died impressively. Like Harry Potter, that kid’s got one hell of an orphan story.”
“The education is legit. Like we read books, but kids are dying of illness. This place is grimier than a hooker’s snatch.”
(In reference to Rochester’s wife) “The Kunta Kinte pyro bitch is dead. Maaaaawwwage!”
It seems to me that rather than a funny, insightful twist on classics, readers are given bare-bones, spark notes-esque summaries, interjected with “modern language” (swearing and some “lols”), from people who don’t appreciate or even understand the classics. I’m glad I spent so little on this book, because I won’t be keeping it. Unless you hate the classics and want to read tweets that mostly make fun of them, I wouldn’t recommend this book.
Wait, let me rephrase my review in the spirit of this book: TBH guys, this book is fucking garbage. LOL #sucks