Dickens once again examines the world of wealth and social class, as a descendant of Pip, a member of Parliament, endeavors to elevate his social standing as well as his finances by encouraging England’s withdrawal from the European Union. His success, or lack of same, will be revealed in a sequel which Dickens plans to write after learning the outcome of certain future economic events, now known by only the CEO of the afterlife, who is unfailingly closemouthed.
Off the Road
Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty are now older, and, as many men their age, they have retired to Florida where they reside in an out-of-the-way seaside community and entertain themselves no longer by bouncing on prostitutes, but by bouncing along the beach in their trusty 4X4. Though they still listen to their old vinyl Duke Ellington and Slim Gaillard jazz records, their drink of choice has changed from alcohol to Metamucil, and the only drugs they now partake of are statins.
Goodbye, Columbus Avenue
Philip Roth crafts another literary masterpiece, based on the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on several residents of Manhattan’s west side and how it forced one millennial couple and their children to flee the city to a Connecticut town reminiscent of Stepford, where mysterious events begin to unfold. (When Ira Levin got wind of Roth’s capitalizing on his creation, he demanded a percentage of the profits…not realizing, of course, that there are no profits in the afterlife.)
The Old Man and the Seesaw
Hemingway picks up the life of Santiago years later, when he is an even older man and unable to fish any longer, but fills most of his time in the playground entertaining the children of Manolin, his former protege. When he first tells the children the story of the sharks, they are fascinated, but upon repeated tellings, often embellished to impress on them the virtue of courage, they grow frightened and tell Santiago that this is a playground and that they would rather play than have the mierde scared out of them.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s House
No stranger to the social scene, Capote has crafted a highly entertaining novel which tells the story of the spoiled daughter of a billionaire and her role in his ruthless pursuit of political office. Capote likens this book to In Cold Blood, which he referred to as a “non-fiction novel,” since the characters are again based on genuine people, however questionable that designation may be in this case.
Bride and Prejudice
As expected, Jane Austen examines a woman’s issues, this time the plight of a woman of color who marries into a titled British family and is faced with questionable treatment by certain family members. A rift develops between the couple and the family, but is soon smoothed out after the husband has the brilliant idea of having the family watch Bridgerton.
The Last Tiecoon
True to form, F. Scott Fitzgerald pens an upper-class roman à clef, loosely based on Ralph Lauren’s meteoric rise from necktie designer to creator of one of the world’s largest fashion empires. The author stays pretty close to the truth, with the exception of making the protagonist 6’1” rather than 5’6”, which Fitzgerald said was too diminutive an image for him to enthusiastically portray.
No Crime and Punishment
As he has done so many times in the past, Dostoevsky again delves into man’s psychological motivations, this time focusing on a cruel Russian dictator who, in his unbridled attempt to hang on to power, unjustly imprisons his opponent. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has accused Dostoevsky of stealing his theme and that he should stick to his own; Dostoevsky replied, “Hey, just remember who influenced who.”)
A Room With No View
In his prequel, E.M. Forster had his protagonist, Charlotte Bartlett, accept Mr. Emerson’s offer to swap rooms, but in this alternate version she resists, keeping her drab courtyard view, which upsets her and leads to an entirely different set of events that follow, since Charlotte is now even bitchier than she was in the first rendering.
Uncle Tom’s Cabana
In this interesting update on the status of African-Americans, Harriet Beecher Stowe tells the story of the dramatic rise of black celebrities, focusing on a highly successful agent, Thomas Steele, who rents a poolside cabana at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he conducts business during the day. The narrator is Thomas’s nephew, a famous actor who owes his uncle his career, as well as ten percent of every penny he makes, despite the fact that he’s family. “Hey,” Steele says, “I’m his Uncle Thomas, not his Uncle Tom.”