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Tag Archives: Twilight

The Phenomenon of Crossover Fiction

Cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, aimed at adult readers.

Cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, aimed at adult readers.

In the beginning they were furtive readers, hiding their primary coloured novels in their laps or slipping the dust jacket of the latest Andy McNab over their commuters paperback. Then, in 1998, Bloomsbury produced an adult edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  Those grown ups who had not yet succumbed to the thrall of the boy wizard now had permission to do so. It was a proper book now. A book for grown ups.

The only difference between the original, published a year before, and the new edition was the cover, a sophisticated monochrome photograph replacing the original colourful, bright and busy illustration. The move by Bloomsbury marked an important and interesting change in how we view children’s literature. Bluntly, if adults were not already reading Harry Potter, Bloomsbury wouldn’t be marketing the books to them.

Kids’ books were now officially part of pop culture – something that we ought to know about should we wish to converse with colleagues and friends. The move was repeated with subsequent novels in the series, and then, in 2005, both adult and child versions of  … Half-Blood Prince were released simultaneously.

2008 Original Hunger Games cover art

When … Deathly Hallows, the final novel in the Harry Potter series was released  in 2007,   a third of editions sold carried the adult cover*. In raw numbers that’s 1,268,738 copies; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was  number one on both the adult fiction and children’s fiction bestsellers list. More recently, Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy has been aggressively marketed to the crossover audience, with a staggered release of differently targeted cover art (right).

It is not, however,  just big franchise fiction that is treated this way. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, published 2003, enjoyed the same fate, with simultaneous release of editions with covers for children and adults and became the best-selling British novel of the last decade, selling excess of two million copies. Read the rest of this entry

[Review, DVD] Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Fairy tales suffer a lot. They undergo constant revision, both by design and by accident; by people purposely seeking to subvert the traditional tales (a la James Thurber), and by misrememberings and chinese whispers of oral storytelling.

Little Red Riding Hood may well be the most reinterpreted of the classic Tales of Mother Goose: Roald Dahl’s comic verse; Angela Carter’s twisted tales in The Bloody Chamber; Toby Forward’s POV swappage. There’s a plethora of retellings available on Amazon, from  board books for toddlers to long YA tomes that Freud would be proud of. In its lifetime, the story of the hooded one has been a morality tale, a metaphor for sexual awakening, a love story. It has been a thriller and a creature feature, a revenger’s tragedy and a modern satire.

Hollywood has taken the story to heart, with the character having been portrayed on-screen in at least 117 features. The The Weinstein Company‘s Hoodwinked! was released in 2005 to a lukewarm reception, and the latest take on the tale comes from Twlight director Catherine Hardwicke.

Perrault’s Le Petit Chaperon Rouge is the simplest and most well-known version of the story. In it Red is beat to Grandmother’s house by the wolf because she stops to pick wildflowers, and after running through the ‘what big arms/legs/ears/eyes/teeth you have’ schtick, is eaten up by the wolf. There’s no rescue, no redemption, and the tale ends with a moral:

Little girls, this seems to say,
Never stop upon your way.
Never trust a stranger-friend;
No one knows how it will end.
As you’re pretty, so be wise;
Wolves may lurk in every guise.
Handsome they may be, and kind,
Gay, or charming never mind!
Now, as then, ‘tis simple truth—
Sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth!

Rotkäppchen (or Little Red Cap) by the Grimms differs slightly from Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. Split into two parts, the first half mirrors the Perrault text but has Red rescued by the Huntsman after she’s been eaten. Once bitten, twice shy, the Grimm’s add a second part to the story that sees Red and Grandmother foil further similar attempts to gobble them up by a second wolf. Read the rest of this entry

Vampire fiction in the Twilight generation

You’d have to be a hermit not to have noticed the recent shift to the mainstream of supernatural fiction. Once the reserve of old-school Goths and LARPers, the supernatural is now dripping in cool.

You can barely fire up Google these days without falling over someone complaining about Twilight, but I would suggest The Escapist’s tounge-in-cheek (and spoilerific) take-down for an overview of just what’s wrong with the series. But it’s not just the über-conservative values Meyer espouses in her that make the series objectionable. There’s the terrible writing too. Meyer’s dearth of adverbs and adjectives  – dazzling, perfect, pale, glorious, er… marble – is as grating as it is lazy. It’s purple prose at its worst.

Twilight is popular, though, and not just with its target audience. Why? To YouTube!

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What I learned about trends at 9.20 AM in WH Smith

Robert Cormier Heroes

This train station vendor of books – I refuse to call them booksellers – is a queer creature. Essentially news agents, they provide bleary-eyed commuters with their daily paper and weekly NME, Grazia or Take A Break and weary travellers with limp, underfilled sandwiches only marginally less overpriced than those for sale on the trains.

The WH Smith branch in which I find myself this bright Thursday morning has a large book section taking up just under half of the small train station concourse store. Their stock-in-trade is bestsellers – books with NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE emblazoned over the Hollywood-perfect cover photo. Gaudy yellow easy-peel stickers advertise three for £10 deals on every other title. TV tie-ins and pocket-sized dictionaries dominate the reference section, travel guides and pop psychology the non-fiction section.

Children’s titles are consigned to a corner. The shelves are messy and confused. Books in on the adult shelves are organised by genre and then alphabetically, with at one copy of most titles displayed cover-on, the better to entice the casual purchaser. Not so in the children’s section. There is no sense that I can see in the arrangement; tall and thin science and maths workbooks sit beside vampire romance fiction for the 11-16 crowd, written hastily to ride on the coat tails Stephenie Meyer’s odious Twilight series. CBeebies tie-ins jostle beside My First Encyclopaedia and Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE).  A Latin translation of A Bear Called Paddington, ordered by some over-eager assistant buyer, languishes dustily at the back.

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