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Fwd: Hornbook editorial on McNarnia

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    July/August 2001 editorial from The Horn Book Magazine http://www.hbook.com/editorial.shtml Bring Out Your Dead When the Entertainment Weekly reporter called
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 11 4:09 PM
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      July/August 2001 editorial from The Horn Book Magazine

      http://www.hbook.com/editorial.shtml

      Bring Out Your Dead

      When the Entertainment Weekly reporter called to find out what I thought of
      HarperCollins’s plans to "continue" C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia with
      books commissioned from other (that is to say, living) writers, my only
      thought was to decide which fish in this barrel to shoot first. Let’s see:
      Lewis must be rolling over in his grave, publishers will do anything for
      money, Screwtape has reserved a special spot in Hell for the hacks who
      involve themselves in this project. Easy targets — until you start to look
      at the situation from the point of view of the fish. I stopped fretting
      about my display of critical invective and started instead to worry about
      what this kind of cloning-by-corporation means for children’s books.

      Other fish in the same pickle as Lewis’s Lucy, Peter, and Aslan include
      Ezra Jack Keats’s Peter and Willie, now stars of their own Viking
      easy-to-read series by Anastasia Suen and Allan Eitzen; H. A. and Margret
      Rey’s Curious George, up to all kinds of merchandising mischief at Houghton
      Mifflin; and spymistress Harriet M. Welsch, whose further exploits are
      currently in development at Random House. In each case, a popular
      children’s book character created by a now-dead author is having his or her
      "brand" extended through new authorized titles, although authorization
      seems an odd word choice to describe a practice in which the actual author
      cannot be reached for comment. Simon Adley, managing director of the C. S.
      Lewis Company, explained the strategy (and inadvertently gave the game
      away) to the New York Times: "The whole children’s market is geared toward
      anything new. You can only keep rejacketing something a certain number of
      times, and in the end you have to produce something new." Yes, Mr. Adley,
      you do. But you haven’t.

      I confess I can’t even quite find the ka-ching! factor in either the Lewis
      books or Harriet the Spy. The Curious George books, yes — morally
      reprehensible but financially attractive. (Although don’t you think it’s
      funny that Houghton Mifflin is taking the high ground over its publication
      of Alice Randall’s Margaret Mitchell parody, The Wind Done Gone, while
      simultaneously attempting to deprive the punk rock group Furious George of
      its name?) But it’s not as if the world has been holding its breath for a
      new chronicle of Narnia or has been lying awake nights wondering whether
      Harriet and Janie happily went on to run a successful covert arms
      dealership out of their Park Slope brownstone.

      The Narnia chronicles are finished and self-contained, as Lewis intended,
      and, in the case of Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet, the two sequels, The Long
      Secret and Sport, written by the author herself, pale beside the original
      book. One supposes, then, that the publishers are counting on the Narnia
      and Harriet names to stimulate demand for these faux-new titles, a business
      gambit directed at the sorriest fish of all in this barrel, children and
      their anxious parents. If C. S. Lewis’s hopes held true, he currently has
      better things to think about than The Lion, the Witch and the War Chest —
      or whatever these continuations turn out to be (HarperCollins is dangling
      the names of such writers as Diana Wynne Jones and Geraldine McCaughrean,
      but this would be but meretriciousness piled upon artistic fraud.) Mingling
      high-culture literary appeal with mass-market brand loyalty is a formula
      designed to undermine what made these books stand out in the first place:
      that there was nothing else like them, that they promised a journey — into
      a wardrobe, into the heart of a ferociously honest young girl — on a whole
      new path.

      You might be old enough to remember the fear when Harriet the Spy came out
      that children all over America would start spy clubs in their heroine’s
      honor. And, bless their souls, they did. The best books don’t need sequels;
      their immortality is achieved by giving readers the desire and the
      resources to continue the story in their own imaginations. Here’s a piece
      of advice that may not be in the best interest of publishers but is very
      much in yours: if you really enjoyed a book, read it again.

      And for the publishers, here’s a piece of advice from Harriet’s
      perspicacious Ole Golly: "No more nonsense."

      —Roger Sutton
    • David S. Bratman
      ... Which is to correct not Sutton, but HarperCollins. Excellent article, by the way. Thanks for bringing it up, Mary. - David Bratman
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 11 4:50 PM
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        At 04:09 PM 7/11/2001 , Roger Sutton of Horn Book wrote:

        >HarperCollins is dangling
        >the names of such writers as Diana Wynne Jones and Geraldine McCaughrean,
        >but this would be but meretriciousness piled upon artistic fraud.)

        In the July 2001 issue of _Ansible_, Dave Langford wrote:

        >Diana Wynne Jones denies -- 'not roundly, but with Spikes. And grace notes,
        >most of them obscene' -- that she has any intention whatever of writing, now
        >or ever, anything even slightly resembling an eighth Narnia book, no matter
        >what it may say in The Independent.

        Which is to correct not Sutton, but HarperCollins. Excellent article, by
        the way. Thanks for bringing it up, Mary.

        - David Bratman
      • dianejoy@earthlink.net
        ... From: David S. Bratman dbratman@stanford.edu Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 16:50:35 -0700 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Fwd: Hornbook
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 12 9:16 AM
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          Original Message:
          -----------------
          From: David S. Bratman dbratman@...
          Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 16:50:35 -0700
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Fwd: Hornbook editorial on McNarnia


          At 04:09 PM 7/11/2001 , Roger Sutton of Horn Book wrote:

          >HarperCollins is dangling
          >the names of such writers as Diana Wynne Jones and Geraldine McCaughrean,
          >but this would be but meretriciousness piled upon artistic fraud.)

          In the July 2001 issue of _Ansible_, Dave Langford wrote:

          >Diana Wynne Jones denies -- 'not roundly, but with Spikes. And grace notes,
          >most of them obscene' -- that she has any intention whatever of writing, now
          >or ever, anything even slightly resembling an eighth Narnia book, no matter
          >what it may say in The Independent.

          Which is to correct not Sutton, but HarperCollins. Excellent article, by
          the way. Thanks for bringing it up, Mary.

          - David Bratman

          Somehow, I figured Diana Wynn Jones would have more sense than to write a new Narnia. After all, anyone who could come up with *The Tough Guide to Fantasyland* . . . I'd love to read the letter of refusal she must have sent HarperCollins! Mine would have to have been written on asbestos-laced paper. ---djb.

          The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

          Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/


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        • dianejoy@earthlink.net
          ... From: David S. Bratman dbratman@stanford.edu Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 16:50:35 -0700 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Fwd: Hornbook
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 12 9:16 AM
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            Original Message:
            -----------------
            From: David S. Bratman dbratman@...
            Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 16:50:35 -0700
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Fwd: Hornbook editorial on McNarnia


            At 04:09 PM 7/11/2001 , Roger Sutton of Horn Book wrote:

            >HarperCollins is dangling
            >the names of such writers as Diana Wynne Jones and Geraldine McCaughrean,
            >but this would be but meretriciousness piled upon artistic fraud.)

            In the July 2001 issue of _Ansible_, Dave Langford wrote:

            >Diana Wynne Jones denies -- 'not roundly, but with Spikes. And grace notes,
            >most of them obscene' -- that she has any intention whatever of writing, now
            >or ever, anything even slightly resembling an eighth Narnia book, no matter
            >what it may say in The Independent.

            Which is to correct not Sutton, but HarperCollins. Excellent article, by
            the way. Thanks for bringing it up, Mary.

            - David Bratman

            Somehow, I figured Diana Wynn Jones would have more sense than to write a new Narnia. After all, anyone who could come up with *The Tough Guide to Fantasyland* . . . I'd love to read the letter of refusal she must have sent HarperCollins! Mine would have to have been written on asbestos-laced paper. ---djb.

            The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

            Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/


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          • dianejoy@earthlink.net
            ... From: David S. Bratman dbratman@stanford.edu Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 16:50:35 -0700 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Fwd: Hornbook
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 12 9:17 AM
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              Original Message:
              -----------------
              From: David S. Bratman dbratman@...
              Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 16:50:35 -0700
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Fwd: Hornbook editorial on McNarnia


              At 04:09 PM 7/11/2001 , Roger Sutton of Horn Book wrote:

              >HarperCollins is dangling
              >the names of such writers as Diana Wynne Jones and Geraldine McCaughrean,
              >but this would be but meretriciousness piled upon artistic fraud.)

              In the July 2001 issue of _Ansible_, Dave Langford wrote:

              >Diana Wynne Jones denies -- 'not roundly, but with Spikes. And grace notes,
              >most of them obscene' -- that she has any intention whatever of writing, now
              >or ever, anything even slightly resembling an eighth Narnia book, no matter
              >what it may say in The Independent.

              Which is to correct not Sutton, but HarperCollins. Excellent article, by
              the way. Thanks for bringing it up, Mary.

              - David Bratman

              Somehow, I figured Diana Wynn Jones would have more sense than to write a new Narnia. After all, anyone who could come up with *The Tough Guide to Fantasyland* . . . I'd love to read the letter of refusal she must have sent HarperCollins! Mine would have to have been written on asbestos-laced paper. ---djb.

              The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

              Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/


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