This Blog Entry Retold by Another Writer

Scott William Carter   October 6, 2005  

Made a nice sale the other day to Asimov’s, my first to that magazine, and I’m still feeling a buzz about it. “The Tiger in the Garden” is set in the same world as “The Liberators,” which appeared in Analog last year. And like that story, this one also has a lot of parallels to current events. I’m starting to think there’s a novel waiting for me in that world.

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So I was perusing a bargain book table at a Rather Large Retailer Who Shall Remain Nameless and I came across some very nice hardback editions of some classics — Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and other wonderful books that have entered the public domain. I’m always on the lookout for handsome books to add to my collection at affordable prices, especially if I can replace an old paperback.

I picked up Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and thought it odd that the book was a little light in terms of the number of pages. And here’s the shocking the part, the part that both saddens and disgusts me: when I opened the book, I saw, under Mark Twain’s name, a line that read “as retold by . . . followed by a writer I’d never heard of.

I couldn’t believe it. I can at least fathom an abridged book (though I never read them if I can help it), especially if it was approved by the author, because that’s generally just taking out some of the author’s own words. But when someone takes a book and actually retells it, recasting it in a different style or voice, that’s nothing short of abominable. Further inspection revealed that these books were geared toward children, but come on, folks, this book was written for young adults as it is! If you don’t think your kids are ready to tackle it on their own, read it to them, or better yet, steer them to books they are ready to read. But don’t have them read some butchered version of one of the great classics of American literature. I would never have wanted my first experience with that book to be anything other than what Samuel Clemens intended it to be.

What’s next, Shakespeare?

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