Hey sweet readers!
Raise your hand if you love the movie CLUELESS.
Cher is snobby, rich, and entitled, yet somehow we still love her. The way she sets up Miss Geist and Mr. Hall, takes Tai under her wing and, by the end of the movie, totally comes around about resident stoner Travis - it's all so awesome. And that ending with Josh? *swoon.*
It's almost as awesome - maybe, in some ways, better than - the original CLUELESS:
Or what about TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU? The old school spoiled-yet-classic quirkiness of Padua High, the beautifully bitchy Kat, and the way Patrick Verona wins her - and our - heart? The adorable romance between Cameron and Bianca? There's actually nothing like it.
Unless there was, like four hundred years ago.
Reduxes, or retellings, aren't confined to epically awesome movies from the 90s. They have popped up all over Young Adult literature in recent years. CINDER by Marissa Meyer, SPLINTERED by AG Howard, and FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund are all awesome examples. (I know there are dozens more - these were off the top of my head.)
Why do we love retellings of classic literature so much? Why do we cling to it and retell it over, and over, and over again?
I can think of a few reasons:
- These stories have timeless themes. Love, the meaning of life, mourning loss, getting over our prejudices (and our pride. Hee.) Sacrifice and despair and overcoming it all. The ridiculousness and utter hilarity of life and clashing personalities. The simple truth that some people will always be kind and some will always be self centered and some will always, always, be jerks. The stories that make the best reduxes have themes that carry through the centuries and speak to the heart of what it means to be human.
- Drama is Drama is Drama is OMG SO AWESOME. The way humans treat each other, and the emotions that tug at the human heart in reaction to their interactions, is just delicious. Using the examples above - When Josh (Mr. Knightley, swoon) told Cher (Emma) she was acting childish - when Kat finally maybe sorta kinda agrees to go out with Patrick (Pertruchio) - they ,make our hearts sink or soar because we have been there. *Sigh*
- These stories are good. They are smart. The plot twists and turns surprise us and delight us. The characters are unique and brilliant and funny and achingly beautiful, each in their own way. It's no wonder we want to tell them again and again, to turn them around to different angles and explore every possibility of how to tell the story. And, most of all, we want to make them accessible for people who might not be inclined to pick up a copy of the original.
I had so much fun writing a contemporary retelling of MANSFIELD PARK, one of my Austen favorites, this summer. It's called SOLVING FOR EX, because it's about Mathletes (hee.) I'm so very excited that it went out on submission to editors yesterday. I'm dying to see whether a publisher will pick up this retelling that recasts young ladies and gentlemen falling in and out of love as Mathletes navigating their way through high school, crushes, and catfights. Especially is exciting that, if it sold soon, it could be published in 2014 - Two hundred years after the original publication date.
I really hope my little retelling would make Ms. Austen smile.
What about you, my sweeties? What reduxes do you love, and why do you love them?