New books, dead authors

Pending the arrival of Ammo Grrrll tomorrow, I need laugh now more than ever, and I do not think I’m alone. In the run-up to July 4, moreover, we have the time for it. Joe Queenan provides the opportunity for more than one laugh in his Wall Street Journal Review column “New books, dead authors” (accessible here via Google) of this past weekend. Queenan observes that Tom Clancy and other megaselling authors continue their careers posthumously with a little help from their publisher’s friends. Queenan cranks up as follows:

Tom Clancy is back with a new thriller, officially titled “Tom Clancy Under Fire.” This is a remarkable achievement, given that he died almost two years ago. Actually, as the cover of the book indicates, in print about one-quarter the size of the words “TOM CLANCY,” Tom Clancy’s “Tom Clancy Under Fire” was written by Grant Blackwood.

Queenan’s creative juices begin to flow:

What puzzles me, though, is why the perpetuation of a powerful literary franchise should only apply to writers who died relatively recently. And why does it only apply to beach reading? Why can’t publishers be a bit more imaginative and delve into the annals of history to produce new books that appear under the names of titans who have gone to meet their maker? Who wouldn’t welcome an offering such as this:

#1 BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY
A FYODOR KARAMAZOV JR. NOVEL
MORE CRIME, MORE PUNISHMENT

By Grant Blackwood

You can imagine the crowds lining up to buy:

#1 BEST-SELLING AUTHOR JANE AUSTEN
A LIZZIE BENNET NOVEL
NO PRIDE, NO PREJUDICE

By Andrew Neiderman

And why not combine franchises?

#1 BEST-SELLING AUTHOR DR. SEUSS
A JASON BOURNE NOVEL
THE CAT IN THE HAT ULTIMATUM

By Eric Van Lustbader

Great books revolve around great characters, not great prose, so any reasonably competent hired gun can be brought in to produce a competent work by a titan of the past:

THE HOUND OF THE BOVARIES: A GUSTAVE FLAUBERT NOVEL by Mark Greaney

Moreover, in an effort to spur interest in the classics, publishers might consider these offerings:

TOM CLANCY’S DANTE’S INFERNO by Grant Blackwood

TOM CLANCY’S THE ILIAD by Mark Greaney

TOM CLANCY’S THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD by Grant Blackwood and Mark Greaney.

“After that,” of course, “the boys can tackle Shakespeare.”

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