'Book of Sequels' spoofs the urge to remake classics

January 30, 1991|By Don O'Briant | Don O'Briant,Cox News Service

Sequels have become as popular in American culture as apple pie II and Mom: The Later Years.

Take "The Godfather Part III," or the Rocky movies (I, II, III, IV, V). Or, Miss Scarlett, the Tarable notion of Alexandra Ripley's sequel to "Gone With the Wind" scheduled for publication in May.

Inspired by the $4.9 million Warner Books shelled out for the follow-up to "GWTW," the editors at the American Sequel Society have quickly gone to press with "The Book of Sequels" (Random House, $16.95), a tongue-in-chic tome that satirizes the trend of prequels, sequels, spinoffs, tie-ins and licensed products.

From the works of Aristotle to the words of George Herbert Walker Bush, nothing is sacred under the irreverent touch of National Lampoon alumni Henry Beard, Chris Cerf, Sarah Durkee and Sean Kelly. Even parts of Margaret Mitchell's revered romance are retold in the styles of Erica Jong, Tama Janowitz, Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Walker.

"The Scarlett Fanny" introduces a Miss O'Hara that would make even Rhett Butler blush; "Slaves of Atlanta" puts a decidedly New York trendy spin on the antebellum tale; "Southern Bellfleur" has Ashley pondering the undercurrent of "violence, careless, mechanical, just beneath the veneer of day-to-day reality"; and "The Color Scarlett" offers an epistolary version of Mitchell's classic through Scarlett's letters to Aunt Pitty-Pat.

The idea of the sequel is not as contemporary as we imagine, say authors Beard, Cerf, Durkee and Kelly.

"When the poet Homer, who wrote the first known literary work, 'The Iliad,' was confronted with the choice of what the second known literary work should be, he didn't hesitate. 'It should be a sequel,' he said to himself, and he turned out 'The Odyssey.' A fine sequel it was, too."

Among the highlights in "The Book of Sequels" are a blockbuster Gabriel Garcia Marquez sequel, "Solitude: The Next Hundred Years"; a self-help tome entitled "Diuretics"; and a Stephen King Book-of-the-Week Club that features such sequels as "Pet Seminary" and "Pujo: The Car That Chases Dogs."

This selection of the greatest stories ever retold comes from "The Book of Sequels" (Random House, $16.95):

"Aristotle's Aerobics."

"I Was a Teenage Beowulf."

"Judaism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

"Machiavelli's Princess."

"The Return of the Gift of the Magi."

"War and Peace and Remembrance."

"The Lighter Side of Sylvia Plath."

"Harvey II: No More Mr. Nice Rabbit."

"Moby Dick II: Raise the Pequod."

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