Barry Manilow’s album, “Duets,” is said to celebrate deceased musical heroes who have inspired him. Singing together with them, Manilow’s contributions have transported his heroes into the modern era. One wonders what it would be like to join together with some literary heroes and attempt to bring them into “the modern era.”
From Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers
The door of Henry’s lunch-room opened and two men came in. They sat down at the counter.
“What’s yours?” George asked them.
“I don’t know,” one of the men said. “What do you want to eat, Al?”
“WELL, THE GRILLED FILLET OF WILD ALASKAN KING SALMON WITH BRAISED AUTUMN GREENS AND LEMON OLIVE OIL SOUNDS GOOD.”
“That’s the dinner,” George explained. You can get that at six o’clock.”
“OKAY, THEN JUST GIVE ME THE GRILLED TUNA WITH BABY BOK CHOY AND PONZU SAUCE.”
“That’s the dinner.”
“Everything we want’s the dinner, eh? That’s the way you work it…I’ll take ham and eggs,” the man called Al said. He wore a derby hat and a black overcoat buttoned across the chest…He wore a silk muffler and gloves.
“ACTUALLY,” SAID GEORGE, “YOU MIGHT PREFER THE SCRAMBLED EGGS IN THEIR SHELLS WITH GOLDEN OSSETRA CAVIAR. FROM THE LOOK OF THOSE GLOVES AND SCARF, YOU CAN WELL AFFORD IT.”
“You’re a pretty bright boy, aren’t you?”
“BRIGHT ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT THOSE GLOVES AND SCARF ARE BOTH ITALIAN…THE SCARF LORO PIANA, IF I’M NOT MISTAKEN, ABOUT SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS.”
From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night
At the hotel the girl made the reservation in idiomatic but flat French, like something remembered. When they were installed on the ground floor she walked into the glare of the French windows and out a few steps onto the stone veranda that ran the length of the hotel.
“FOR TWO-THOUSAND EUROS A NIGHT WE DON’T EVEN GET WI-FI? THIS TOTALLY SUCKS!” SHE SHOUTED AT HER MOTHER, THEN WALKED ONTO THE BEACH.
Glancing around with concealed annoyance Rosemary saw the untanned people were waiting…“We know who you are,” spoke up the woman in evening dress. “You’re Rosemary Hoyt…we all think you’re perfectly marvelous and we want to know why you’re not back in America making another marvelous moving picture.”
“BECAUSE,” ROSEMARY REPLIED, “DESPITE THE FACT THAT MY LAST FILM WAS A BOX-OFFICE SMASH, I FOUND OUT, THROUGH HACKED EMAILS, THAT THE STUDIO SCREWED ME ON THE BACK-END PAYOUT.”
“We wanted to warn you about getting burned the first day,” she continued cheerily, “because your skin is important…”
“YEAH, IT’S SO IMPORTANT THAT THE BASTARDS CUT AT LEAST HALF OF MY CLOSE-UPS…WHILE CLEANING UP YOU KNOW WHO’S ACNED FACE WITH THE COMPUTER.”
From Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man WHO’S MOVING HERE FROM THE STATES…A HEDGE FUND MANAGER FROM GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT…that he came down on Monday in a VOLCANO RED MCCLAREN 650S SPIDER TO SEE THE PLACE – THE CAR, BY THE WAY, GOES FOR OVER TWO-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTY LARGE – AND HE WHIPPED OUT HIS IPHONE AND TRANSFERRED THE MONEY ON THE SPOT.”
“Is he married or single?”
“Oh, single, my dear, to be sure! A YOUNG BACHELOR WHO RAKED IN TONS OF DOUGH FROM ALL THOSE RICH STIFFS IN GREENWICH WHO HAVE MORE MONEY THAN THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH. I HEAR HE’S WORTH AT LEAST A BIL.What a fine thing for our girls!”
“How so? How can it affect them?”
“HEL-LO!” REPLIED HIS WIFE. “EARTH TO MISTER BENNET! MARRIAGE, MY CLUELESS HUSBAND, MARRIAGE!”
From Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, IT WAS A DEMOCRATIC HOUSE, IT WAS A REPUBLICAN SENATE.