by Mallory Ortberg; Illustrated by Madeline Gobbo Hardcover, 226 pg.
Henry Holt and Co., 2014
Read: August 13, 2015
The answer to the question nobody asked: What would some of the most famous literary figures (characters/writers) say if they texted their friends and family? Well, Mallory Ortberg asked it, I guess. Most of the answers she cooked up are worth reading — some will induce chuckles, maybe a guffaw, and many smiles.
The Jane Eyre conversations (as might be suggested from the title) are the best of the batch — although the Poe material is just as strong (Hamlet’s close to that). The rest is a step or two back, in my estimation. Some of the rest of the material is pretty weak, but Ortberg makes the most of it. Typically, the reader’s appreciation of these text messages will line up with their familiarity with the source material.
Still, no collection is going to be free from bad apples, and The Hunger Games‘ conversations aren’t just weak, they’re disappointing. I don’t see how Ortberg could’ve missed so completely. But that’s just 2 pages out of 200, that’s more than a pretty decent percentage.
A nice break from heavier reading, I recommend taking these a few pages at a time — not the whole book in a sitting or two (although it’d be easy to knock out that way). Try for too many at once, and they lose their punch. Some funny stuff for book nerds here.