Fiction Mash-Ups

by John Holbo on April 3, 2004

Via scribblingwoman, who heard it from Maud, this is indeed a beguiling pastime.

Here are my hasty contributions:

Divine Comedy of Errors
Hell, twins, purgatory, mistaken identity, heaven, silly weddings.

Long Day’s Journey Into Twelfth Night
Eugene O’Neil, cross-gartered and gin-soaked most villainously.

Mr. Sammler’s Swiftly Tilting Planet
Elderly Jew and unicorn save world from ‘Mad Dog’ Branzillo.

Farmer Giles, Goat-Boy of Ham
It’s the cultural revolution, the dragon won’t fight. One of those really 60’s-style novels. Does anyone still read them?

Sixth Sense and Sensibility
Turns out she’s a ghost.

Huckleberry Finn Family Moomintroll
Huck, Jim, Snuff, Moom, Hem, and My on the ol’ Mississip.

A Separate War and Peace
Set in a boy’s school during the Napoleonic Wars.

Danny, Champion of the World As I Found It
Bruce Duffy’s novel of how Wittgenstein fed sleeping pills to chickens as a boy.

The Thin Man Without Qualities
Made famous by the movie, with William Powell as Ulrich and Myrna Loy as Diotima.

Little, Big Dorrit
Girl raised by fairies for reasons unknown in Victorian prison bigger on inside than outside. Dickens rails against the practice.

Room With a View to a Kill
Merchant-ivory production, with Helena Bonham-Carter as bond girl.

Charlie and the Great Glass Menagerie
Willy Wonka hopes Charlie can help Laura snap out of it and live a little.

The Runaway Bunny Jury
John Grisham’s first book for children. “Once there was a little bunny who wanted to sue gun manufacturers for turning a blind eye to illegal distribution of their products. So he said to his mother, ‘I am suing gun manufacturers for turning a blind eye to illegal distribution of their products.’ And his mother said, ‘If you do that, they will hire flashy jury consultants and you will lose your case.’ ‘If I lose the case,’ said the little bunny, ‘I will change my identity and travel around the country trying to infiltrate juries until I win.’ ‘If you do that, they will trash your apartment,’ said his mother.

Goodnight Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Goodnight penal colony on the moon. Goodnight earth controlling the penal colony on the moon. Goodnight supercomputer named Mike.

UPDATE: (ooh, ooh, I thought of these too.)

The Great Firestarter
Shirley Hazzard and Stephen King are reconciled.

The Crying of Salem’s Lot 49
Oedipa Mass and Mucho sort out legal tangles. Will vampires take over the town first?



Matt McIrvin 04.03.04 at 1:44 pm

Now you are obligated to write Huckleberry Finn Family Moomintroll. That idea is too good to die.


Kikuchiyo 04.03.04 at 1:45 pm

Might work well with blog mottos, as well. E.x.: “If you’ve got a modem, I’ve got the dumbest s***. Interesting?”

Or perhaps:

“Like kryptonite to fair and balanced.”


Courtney 04.03.04 at 3:32 pm


Kriston 04.03.04 at 4:39 pm

Oooh, this game is too much fun. Better even than the Grey Album itself.


nnyhav 04.03.04 at 5:04 pm

Nabokov been there done that, but where? what was it? All Quiet on the Don?


PanJack 04.03.04 at 5:54 pm

Listening to music while reading poetry:

40 Ways to Leaves of Grass:

I celebrate leaving you.
Three Billy Goats Budd, Sailor

“I forgive you Captain Troll!”


ben wolfson 04.03.04 at 7:28 pm

Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Pride and Prejudice (or Pride and Practical Reason).

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good will must be in possession of the only thing that is good without qualification.


evan 04.03.04 at 7:52 pm

The Cadburry Tales

A children’s version of Chaucer’s work just in time for Easter.


dorkafork 04.03.04 at 8:51 pm

Legends of the Fall of the Third Reich
A tale of love, betrayal, and Aryan brotherhood. Soon to be a major motion picture with Brad Pitt as Hitler.


dorkafork 04.03.04 at 9:27 pm

The Tuscan Sun Also Rises
Cooking, gardening, home-remodelling, bullfights.

The Sum of All Fears and Loathings in Las Vegas
A nuclear bomb is planted on American soil in the midst of an escalation in tension with the Soviet Union in an attempt to rekindle cold war animosity and prevent reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Then the ether kicks in…


spacetoast 04.03.04 at 9:35 pm

Martha Galaxy Quest

Young Martha struggles against the hypocrisy and mindless traditionalism of her insular Rhodesian community. Her space-alien friends give her historical-materialist literature and challenge her assumptions, but she marries Tim Allen anyway. (Rated T for tribbles)

All the King’s X-Men

A populist southern governor (Patrick Stewart) leads a team of mutant superheroes before being assassinated. KAAAPPPOOOWWW!!

The Grapes of the Wrath of Kahn

Kahn returns from exile to prevent a family of overwrought hillbillies from making it to the Laker game. When they finally arrive, the concession lines are so long that they are forced to drink each other’s breast-milk.

The Ghost of the Remembrance of Christmases Past and Mr. Chicken (mistranslated from the original Esperanto)

Don Knotts eats a tainted madeleine and has a psychotic episode, causing him to believe it’s always Christmas. Confusing chronology and mild lesbianism.


teep 04.04.04 at 12:32 am

How Green Was My Valley of the Dolls: Drugged-out Hollywood starlets find renewed purpose in welsh coal mines.

Age of Innocents Abroad (it works if you say it aloud): New York bluebloods go to Europe and points east and make fun of the experience in travelogue format.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night Shift: Dysfunctional family experiences series of implausible horrific vignettes.

Coming soon:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being John Malkovich
Beauty and the Beast Within
A Streetcar Named Desire Under the Elms
The Neverending Story of O


plover 04.04.04 at 12:48 am

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats and Gargoyles of NIMH
A mother mouse with a sick child enlists the help of a genetically engineered eight-bodied rat to save her house and the rest of the material universe from being destroyed by a massive construction project run by incarnations of Zodiacal symbols.


fontana labs 04.04.04 at 12:49 am

Ruling Passions of the Christ

In which an elderly British expressivist gets nailed to a giant Martini glass. Some violence, nudity (in the flashbacks).

Twilight of the Dolls

Master and slave morality, revisted.


novalis 04.04.04 at 1:10 am

The Perdido Street Station Agent*

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Gatsby

Where Late The Sparrow Sang: In a postapocalyptic community of cloned priests….

Tlön, Ubik, Orbis Tertius: Jorge Luis Borges is dead… or is everyone else? New Ubik spray gets rid of pesky hronir once and for all…

The Name of a Rose for Ecclesiastes

Sex, Lies, and the Videotaping Liars Who Sell Them

Of Mice and Men of Steel, Women of Kleenex

The Spanish Prisoner of Azkaban*

Goldilocks and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch: These metal teeth are too big! These Jensen eyes are too small! But this mechanical arm is just right!

\* Are movies cheating?


fontana labs 04.04.04 at 1:23 am

Tales of the City of God
More racy gay confessions from Augustine.

Faerie Queene of the Damned
Edmund Spenser’s attempt to curry favor with the white-complexioned goth set.

Are you there, Godot? It’s Me, Margaret
Young girl gets tired of waiting, waits anyway.

The Name and Necessity of the Rose
Monks search for a copy of Kripke’s fabled “Third Lecture.”


plover 04.04.04 at 2:02 am

The Wasp Factory in a Wig
The lost chapter of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass in which Alice, convinced that she is really male, wanders about Scotland torturing animals.

A Pale Fire Upon The Deep
Novel in the form of a critical study of a poem that is the only a remnant of an ancient galaxy-dominating intelligence.

And from a friend of mine:
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For The Cat In The Hat
Case study of a cognitive disorder caused by a mysterious cat that visits children that are left home alone.

Remains of the Longest Day
An old-style English butler is drafted to cater the invasion of Normandy.


jholbo 04.04.04 at 2:32 am

And the prize goes to … Fontana Labs. I sat sipping my beer meditatively for a full five minutes, trying to make something out of “Are you there, God, it’s me Margaret?” And I came up empty. And I also turned “Godot” this way and that but never put 1 + 1 together. Ah, well. (I was confused by vague memories of a funny parody about Charles Manson’s literary follow-up to Helter Skelter, “Are you there, God, it’s me Manson?”


PoolBoy 04.04.04 at 4:00 am

Crossing Over To Safety
— The gripping story of the afterlife of two couples, told in vague but familiar language.

I am a Soldier of the Great War, Too
— Italian soldier wakes up in a hospital in Iraq, where, on a long walk down the hall to the bathroom, he tells his life story to the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, just before she is rescued by Americans.

One Hundred Years of the South Beach Diet
— Longitudinal study of low-carb dieters reveals odd side-effect: they are bad at remembering new names.

The Secret Life of Pi
— A boy, fleeing racial injustice, finds himself trapped on a boat with a swarm of bees.

Critique of Pure Reasons and Persons
— We can have synthetic a priori knowledge that it is wrong to sleep with a man’s wife even though you are psychologically continuous with her husband– except on future Tuesdays.


Miriam 04.04.04 at 4:13 am

Bleak House on the Prairie: Plucky illegitimate child helps family battle locusts and lawyers while neatening up the log cabin.

Anne of the House of Seven Gables: Plucky Canadian child does her best to brighten up the lives of one seriously gloomy American family. Fails spectacularly.

I Never Promised You a Secret Garden: Sometimes a key is just a key.

Johnny Get Your Tin Drum: Very short teenager destroys whole armies of redcoats by shrieking at the top of his lungs.

Father and Son and Wives and Daughters and Man and Wife: Sex! Murder! Evolution!


PanJack 04.04.04 at 4:18 am

A Paradise Lost Lady

Life in the Nebraska frontier is no longer so good. See the apple orchard? Urbanization and the railroad ends things. But, hey, it’s really for the best.


vivian 04.04.04 at 4:23 am

Guns, Germs and Steel Magnolias
Five friends seek a feminist interpretation of technology, empire and the war of northern aggression

Voyage of the Damned Beagle
the real reason Darwin was on the sea for five years? indifference and antisemitism

Ram Dass Kapital a materialist reaches inner peace through meditation on factors of production, superstructure and the inevitability of class conflict

(s.o. suggests)
A Clockwork Orange is not the Only Fruit

Seven Pillars of the Wisdom of Big Bird for very junior executives

Good to Great Expectations
management guru in an old wedding dress guides a young boy on the path to success


Phill 04.04.04 at 4:49 am

The medium is the message in a bottle. an extended essay on the aesthestics of the communications of Robinson Crusoe

The Scarlet Letter from America or a history of the Clinton Presidency.

The DaVinci Code of the Woosters in which aunt Agatha is discovered to be a member of Opus Dei and Jeeves demonstrates the correct way to serve afternoon tea from a holy grail.

Being and Wiggles Time Greg, Anthony, Murray and Jeff set Heidegger to music for the potty training set.


ben wolfson 04.04.04 at 4:55 am

Another Celine knockoff: Long Day’s Journey to the End of the Millenium. A Sephardic Jew tries to justify bigamy in Vichy France.

1984 Janine. Winston fantasizes about lesbian dominatrixes.


Carlos 04.04.04 at 5:30 am

Moonwise Blood Meridian. With dust-colored eyes she saw the thorn tree and the shrike under the wheeling stars. And the Judge.


Kriston 04.04.04 at 5:52 am

Slaughterhouse V. – Billy Pilgrim and the Whole Sick Crew search for V. on Tralfamador.

On the Road to Perdition – Sidetracked from their quest for revenge, the O’Sullivans call Allen Ginsburg and roll to Monterey. (snaps)

Middlesex and the City – Candace Bushnell needs to tell you something….


dorkafork 04.04.04 at 10:11 am

House Harkonnen of Sand and Fog
A noble is evicted from the planet Arrakis and starts a tragic conflict with the planet’s new owners.

Cat in the Hat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Cat tries to get the inheritance by plying Big Daddy with Green Eggs and Ham.

Up the Watership Down Staircase
A funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic high school bunny rabbit.


jholbo 04.04.04 at 10:16 am

Miriam’s entry gives Fontana a run for the money. In fact, it’s a tie, because I tried to do something with “The Tin Drum” and failed, where she gloriously succeeds.

Here is my new suggestion for the day. “What do people do all Burmese Days?” Richard Scarrey reflects on his unhappy career as a British colonial police officer in Burma. ‘Having to beat the prisoners made me feel like a lowly worm.’


jholbo 04.04.04 at 10:27 am

Oh, and Vivian has some good ones: “Guns, Germs & Steel Magnolias”, indeed.

What about “The Magnificent Seven Ambersons”? Several generations of a prominent but snobbish and troubled midwestern family fight to defend their town against incredible odds.


spacetoast 04.04.04 at 10:50 am

Damn, those are so great! I think I’m out of my league here, but I can’t resist…

Birth of a Tragedy of a Nation

The Klan innaugurate American history with a performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Controversial.

Are you there Maude? It’s Bea Arthur.

Autobiographical bildungsroman for the menopause set.

On the Plurality of Brave New Worlds

Your counterpart at W2 is playing naked centrifugal-bumble-puppy with Mustapha Mond. What? What are you looking at?

The Killiad (film)

Lost Dino DeLaurentis bloodbath featuring George C. Scott as Agamemnon, Malcolm McDowell as Paris, and Jane Fonda as Helen of Troy. Soundtrack by Styx.

Tales from the City of Godzilla (film)

After penning successful slice-of-life memoir, Augustine retires to quiet Okinawan fishing village, only to disturb 800ft. terrible thunder lizard. Pat Morita costars as ethnic stereotype.

Journey to the West Side Story
(Since I just looked at Mr. Holbo’s great thing about Sun Wu Kong and company…)

In their search for the scriptures, Monkey, Piggy, Friar Sand, and the Tang Priest encounter a group of Greek actors pretending to be Puerto Ricans. Swiftly, the Great Sage plucks a hair from his head and transforms it into a Polish police officer, but is he too late?


plover 04.04.04 at 2:29 pm

The Way The Things They Carried Work
Children’s pictorial guide to the functioning of Vietnam era military hardware.

Gentle Ben-Hur
A boy in ancient Rome rescues a lost bear, who convinces him to engage in chariot races with his past enemies.


Margaret Soltan 04.04.04 at 2:38 pm

Brighton Rock Memoirs

Wise-cracking Brooklyn teen morphs into Calvinist psychopath.


margaret soltan 04.04.04 at 3:21 pm

Cry, The Beloved

Elusive ghost turns up in South Africa.


jholbo 04.04.04 at 3:41 pm

I .. just … can’t … stop.

Let’s do some Lovecraft:

The Lurker in the Rye
‘Tis Pity She’s a Dunwich Horror
The Colour Purple Out of Space
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats in the Walls
the Call of the Wild of Cthulu


Chuchundra 04.04.04 at 6:12 pm

The Five People You Meet in Heavan Can Wait

More melodrama than you can shake a stick at

Moby Dick Tracy

Call me Ishmael…on your wrist radio!

The Blood Price of Loyalty

Vampires…in the White House! Hey, maybe I should write this one.


margaret soltan 04.04.04 at 6:43 pm

I promise to stop. But…

The Wapshot Chronicles of Wasted Time

American WASP converts to high Anglicanism.

Tropic of Cancer Ward

More sex than you’d expect.

Tender is the Night Porter

Nazi asks forgiveness.

Under the Volcano Lover

Metaphysical angst, sublime locales.

A Farewell to Arms and the Man

The folly of war.

Wise Blood Simple

Southern grotesque all around.


novalis 04.04.04 at 9:26 pm

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars My Destination: Five struggling artists share a studio and discuss teleportation,
rape, tattooing and synaesthesia.

120 Days of Dhalgren: In the mysterious city of Bellona, a gay sadist searches for identity and tortures people.

The Fifth Head of Cerebus: On the twin planes of Saint Anne and Saint Croix, an aardvark warrior discovers that he is afifth-generation clone. Misogyny ensues.


Mary Kay 04.04.04 at 11:02 pm

My goodness, what a lot of science fiction reading geeks! I had no idea. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Says the woman whose house contains roughly 10K sf/fantasy novels.

But my favorite is The Sum of All Fears and Loathing in Las Vegas because of the description. “And then the ether kicks in” I laughed out loud.

MKK–not really good at stuff like this though


vivian 04.04.04 at 11:20 pm

Dr. No Exit
What would hell be like for 007? Trapped for eternity with the sexy-but-dim Honey and the evil, homicidal doctor. (Can’t Quarrel with that)

Left Behind the Green Door
(Okay, I haven’t read the series, but someone had to start on them.)

The Little Difference Engine that Could
…Actually, I really want to read this one.

The Other Side of the Magic Mountain
After a tragic skiing accident, she falls in love with a turn-of-the-last-century slacker at a swiss sanitarium.


Kian 04.05.04 at 12:16 am

A few additions:

The Princess Diaries of a Madman

Einstein’s Dreams of Electric Sheep

Portrait of a Lady and the Tramp

The Dark is Rising Up and Rising Down

The Name of the Rose for Emily

A Swiftly Tilting Planet of the Apes

Now We Are Slaughterhouse Five

Being and Time Enough For Love

The Nun’s Story of O

A Wrinkle In Time’s Arrow


tim 04.05.04 at 1:19 am

kian: Just remembered Private Eye’s obituary poem for Christopher Robin Milne
“Now We Are Six Feet Under”


vivian 04.05.04 at 3:00 am

A friend, Roger, volunteered
Ethan Fromme Here to Eternity

The Day of the Jackal and Mr. Hyde

You’re all terrific, I can’t pick favorites anymore, there are way too many. This is really addictive.


plover 04.05.04 at 4:09 am

Being and Time Enough for Love
This may have the virtue of being the most unreadable proposal presented so far…

Permutation City of God -Aquinas on cellular automata…
Soldier of the Mists of Avalon
The Velveteen Rabbit at Rest
Uncle Tom Jones’ Cabin
The Horse and His Boy and His Dog
Darwin’s Black Box of Most Dangerous Ideas
Naked Came the Bonfire of the Manatees
The Third Man of La Mancha


Belle Waring 04.05.04 at 7:20 am

What about an all Enid Blyton run?
The Magic Mountain of Adventure: Philip, Dinah, Lucy-Ann, Jack, and their parrot Kiki all get TB, have to eat 5 nourishing meals a day at the International Sanatorium Berghof.

Into the Valley of the Dolls of Adventure: The kids discover drugs. Can Bill Smugs bail them out?

The Secret Seven Sharer: guilt-ridden sea captain must conceal six children and an excitable dog in his cabin. Will his steward catch on?


plover 04.05.04 at 12:09 pm

erm, that should be:

Permutation City of God – Augustine on cellular automata…


Johno 04.05.04 at 5:04 pm

Ham On Catcher In The Rye: Charles Bukowski?s autobiographical memoir about youth, anomie, and banging prostitutes.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E Vanya: Retired secret agents sit around the samovar griping about lost love, old age, and declining property values.

The Wonder Boys of Summer: The sentimental tale of a past-his-prime Brooklyn novelist and the talented rookie who reminds him of his faded glory. A dog is shot, a car is stolen.


novalis 04.05.04 at 7:05 pm

Last Call of the Wild – Alaskan sled dogs play poker with tarot cards on a boat in the middle of a lake.
The Invisible Man Month (Brooks, Wells, Ellison) – A botched experiment turns Fred Brooks into a black man for a month.


novalis 04.05.04 at 9:28 pm

Trouble and Her Friends on Triton: Gender-bending queer hackers in space.
Object Oriented Perl of Great Price: Damien Conway’s introduction to Mormon software development.
Gather, Heart of Darkness!


Julia 04.05.04 at 10:17 pm

The King and I Capture the Castle
Upon Anna’s urging, the King of Siam to removes his family to a crumbling castle in England for safekeeping. Once there, he falls in love with her materialistic sister. (Alternately, The King and I, Robot)
Gone with the WInd in the WIllows
Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara embarks on an adventure with Mr. Toad, a different kind of rebel.
Gaudy Night of the Living Dead
Harriet Vane returns to Oxford only to find it overrun with zombies.


spacetoast 04.05.04 at 10:40 pm

hehe…Gaudy Night of the Living Dead is great, Julia, but I can’t believe you forgot to mention the scene where Peter Wimsey quotes Dante while trying to bite Harriet’s neck.


jholbo 04.06.04 at 1:50 am

I regret to inform that “Gone with the wind in the willows” has already been done – on the original list I linked to. Their tag line was: ‘frankly, mole, I don’t give a dam’ or something like that. (Perhaps this is a sign that we have gotten them all the closed the circle. No more jokes to be found.) Seriously, “Gaudy night of the living dead” is quite funny. Good, good.


tim 04.06.04 at 3:09 am

On the other hand, Inherit the Wind in the Willows still needs a plot and exposition…


Julia 04.06.04 at 6:17 am

regret to inform that “Gone with the wind in the willows” has already been done – on the original list I linked to.
Oh dear. How embarrassing. Also, suggested by a friend: Gone with the Wind in the Door.


chris borthwick 04.06.04 at 9:40 am

I capture “The Castle”
The Little Mermaid of Orleans
Withnail and I, Robot
American Beauty and the Beast with Five Fingers
The Long Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Now we are very young Torless


GeekLethal 04.06.04 at 2:17 pm

2001: A Hunt for Red October: An ancient alien intelligence cleverly leaves a monolith on Earth, which is later commandered by defecting Soviet sailors and given to the CIA.

The Lovely Bones of Electric Sheep: The spirit of a murdered little girl watches from Heaven as those she loved grapple with the fact that she was actually a replicant.


chris borthwick 04.07.04 at 5:13 am

And how about very different books with exactly the same name?

Plato’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Watership Down – helicopter carrying refreshments to US marines in Fallujah hit by rpg

Carry On Jeeves
Sid James as Jeeves, Charles Hawtrey as Wooster

While we’re on Wodehouse,

Suddenly Last Summer Lightning
Lord Emsworth’s sister Connie seeks to have Galahad Threepwood lobotomized to prevent him writing his memoirs

The Rights of Man Ho, Jeeves
Gussie Fink-Nottle gives a rabblerousing attack on the British Monarchy at the Market Snodgrass prizegiving

Herbie Hancock’s Half-Hour
Sid James on sax, Hattie Jacques on bass


Nix 04.08.04 at 2:10 pm

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Looking Up: replicant technology turns out to ruin the environment. All die. Oh, the embarrassment.

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