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One thing I have learned, since writing a book called Bedbugs, is that when you write a book called Bedbugs, people are very curious whether you've ever had bedbugs.
It's funny, because I once wrote a book called Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and nobody asked whether I'd had sea monsters.
Well, the answer is no, I've never had either, thank the Lord.
The other main difference between this current book and that old one (and my other so-called "mash-up" novel, Android Karenina) is that this one takes its genre responsibilities more seriously. Whereas Sea Monsters and Android were basically parodies, attempts to humorously and interestingly blend "classic" works of literature with new genre elements, Bedbugs is an honest attempt to scare and chill the reader. No one was supposed to be seriously afraid of the giant mutant lobsters that rampage through my version of Jane Austen, but you are definitely meant to be afraid of the creepy crawlers I've unleashed this time around.
Horror novelists (and filmmakers) have a lot of different ways they try to keep you up all night. Here were three of my strategies, in Bedbugs:
1. Pick the right subject matter.
Half my work was done before I started, because so many people are already so freaked out by bedbugs.
In my humble opinion, truly spooky books and films take as their subjects things that have a pre-existing inherent scariness. Sharks, giant dogs, child-like dolls stuffed in the backs of closets, a row of birds on a telephone wire. People already suspect that the soft-spoken dude checking them into their motel at three a.m. is a knife-wielding lunatic, so Hitchcock just has to press the right buttons.
I am honored that Bedbugs has been compared here and there to Rosemary's Baby, and I just like to point out that that books takes a process that is often the locus of considerable anxiety (i.e. pregnancy) and amplifies those anxieties until they enter the realm of true fear.
2. Live in the mundane and day-to-day.
Especially in the early pages, I tried to firmly ground the story in the realistic, everyday lives of the characters, stuff like grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, taking the kid to the playground, marital squabbles and make-up sex. With just occasional notes of what's to come: a smear of blood here, an unexpected noise there, an unnamed sense of melancholy and dread. This is a technique you will find abundantly in books like The Shining, the aforementioned Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, even The Amityville Horror. There's this careful creation of a realistic, familiar world before the darkness begins to seep in.
3. The Great disintegrating narrator.
Bedbugs begins from the perspective of Susan Wendt, an anxiety-prone insomniac, and it does not leave her point of view for the entire novel. This gives the reader no opportunity to evaluate the truthfulness of her experiences and opinions, and we are unsure, as her paranoia and fear escalate, what is real and what is false. In this effort to bond the reader with the narrator, and keep you in the grips of what are either delusions or genuine monsters, I am working in a grand tradition, beginning with marvelous old-school ghost stories like The Turn of the Screw and The Yellow Wallpaper, both of which tread similarly uneven psychological ground.
So there are a view of the ways that Bedbugs attempts to work its particular form of dark magic...even before we get to the blood-soaked nightmares, the bugs skittering out of wall sconces, and the intimations of demonic possession.
Whether it all works, you'll have to tell me...
Ben H. Winters
Posted July 20, 2009
the whole point of this is to have a good laugh. if you are going to read this to get the "romanticism" of real jane austen books youre in the wrong place. go read a jane austen book. if you want a fun mish mash and love sea monsters and tentacles like h.p. lovecraft and the rest of us, this is going to be awesome.
9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 18, 2009
Firstly, for all those complaining that this book "ruins the romance" of a J.A. novel, it's important to remember that Austen did not intend for any of her works to be romances. Sure, there's romance in them, but they are NOT romances. If you want that, go read the Bronte sisters. Austen was more a commentator on society - she watched those around her, added in some satire and wrote her lovely novels. So, even though we have no idea what she would think of this and P&P&Z, I'd like to think she would view it as a product of the times, and not an insult to her work. What I hope these books do is turn readers on to her actual works. I was introduced to Austen via Emma Thompson's S&S movie. After I watched it, I wanted to read all of the Austen I could. Maybe it takes sea monsters and zombies to get readers interested in the original herself. And if that works, then I'm all for it.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2009
It's a shame that there's no copyright to protect Jane Austen's work from this sort of degrading treatment. Adding insult to injury, the publishers have included the original text and this great--- and now, apparently, defenseless--- literary woman's name as a co-author forcing her, in effect, to play a posthumous role in vandalizing her own classic work. A far more acceptable tack would have been to write an Austen parody, but, alas, that would require comedic talent and literary skill, commodities apparently in short supply these days.
6 out of 22 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2009
I Also Recommend:
Come on, folks, it's supposed to be funny. Juxtaposing hideous monsters with quality literature is a good time (or would be, if some people didn't take it so terribly, terribly seriously)! It's OK to laugh at the things we love. Really. Laughing at the immortal Jane Austen doesn't hurt the quality of her books. They're still awesome. They're still comedies (or did you all forget that?). These books aren't meant to be a literary challenge. This isn't Wilkie Collins versus Charles Dickens. It's a joke, guys! It just has zombies and sea monsters as well as annoying socialites and shallow relations.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2009
I love Jane Austen, but to put monsters and zombies into her work is just wrong. I don't think these books portray the tales of romance Jane Austen wanted people to read about when she wrote her novels. Unbelievable.
2 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 28, 2011
Posted September 30, 2009
Do not read this book for the love of all humanity! Who is there right mind decided to do this. Jane Austen is a woman that should be respected, not have her stories taken and made into zombies!!!! Next thing you know there's goning to be a vampire in Northanger Abbey. Secondly men have written these books. Austen was the one of if not the first woman to live by her pen, give her credit! So DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK... OR READ IT!!!! Thanks!
1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2009
I Also Recommend:
As a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I must say...this one doesn't sound as interesting. It doesn't seem like a strong enough idea and that the original story might not be as close. But anyone who liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should give it a try (I know I will) and never forget, it's GOOD to laugh.
1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 17, 2014
Posted January 23, 2013
hahaha i loved pride and prejudice and zombies! anyone who thinks these are books by Jane Austen then look for her books! sense and sensibility and sea monsters has NOTHING in common with Sense and Sensibility except for the name! Buy this book because it is hilarious!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2012
Ok this is going a little too far and getting a little too silly. This was not very well-written and seemed like they are just trying to take advantage of the mashup market. A much more well-written and entertaining book was Wuthering Heights and a Werewolf...and a Zombie Too by Ralph S. King.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 19, 2011
"... I definitely understand why lovers of classic literature would be hestiant to read these oddball re-writes, but I'm glad I picked this one up to try! It was silly and fun, and even though I did roll my eyes or raise an eyebrow at some parts, I laughed out loud at others and was intrigued by the mysterious plot-line involving Margaret and the other involving Elinor and the five-pointed star. If you really aren't sure about whether or not you want to try this, I'd really recommend at least borrowing it from a friend or from a library."
For full review, please visit me, Les Livres, on Blogger!
jaimeliredeslivres (dot) blogspot (dot) com
Posted August 21, 2011
This book is at imes fun, but the added parts are much more obvious and not as well written as those in Pride and Predjudice and Zombies, and the original story itself in my opinion isn't qute as good either.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 29, 2011
As a fan of Jane Austin's works, I must tip my hat to this well-mannered rogue of a book. Very funny, if clunky use of the prose. And a nice Austen-meets-Lovecraft sort of vibe. Highly recommended, if you like this sort of thing. :-)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2010
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters / 978-1-594-74465-5 I never got around to reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (by the same publisher, but a different author than this novel), but I found the idea delightful and when "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" came out, I knew I had to take the plunge. "Sense and Sensibility" being, of course, my favorite Austen novel, I was looking forward to re-reading a classic and seeing a touch of sea monster fun and humor thrown in. Make no mistake about it: this book is delightfully funny. The superb Jane Austen prose is all here, but set in such a world where sea monster attacks are brutally common. The exquisite and seamless weaving of this tale (it is truly difficult to separate out the Jane Austen writing from Ben Winters', so thoroughly has he mimicked her style), will lead to a deeply humorous rendition of Austen's high society - where fatalities at beach dinner-parties are a common occurrence and it is the highest breech of manners for a gentleman or lady to acknowledge the death throes of a mere servant, trailing the water behind their pleasure boat. Certain scenes, such as Miss Steele's confession to Elinor Dashwood, are immeasurably enhanced by a concurrent attack on the boat by a vicious sea serpent, and Marianne's rescue by Willoughby is heightened greatly by the addition of an angry octopus. What I did not expect, however, was just how good the story would be. Rather than make a Jane Austen book with throw-away sea monster jokes, Winters has written a complex and fascinating science fiction sub-plot within the Austen narrative. Though the book is hilarious from front to finish, I found myself laughing out loud less and less because I was more and more drawn into the actual story and I didn't want to waste a moment, even to laugh, before turning the next page. These additions are so superb and true to Austen's original characters - such as Elinor's brave stand against pirates whilst Marianne languishes ill below - that it is difficult to imagine that she would be any less delighted with this novel than I. If you like Jane Austen and enjoy a touch of morbid humor interlaced with hoity-toity upper-crust social commentary, check out "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" - you'll come for the sea monsters, but I wager you'll stay for the story and become as swept away as I was. ~ Ana MardollWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 10, 2010
I find the 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' a much more entertaining read. But I'm biased. 'Pride and Prejudice' happens to be one of my fave Jane Austen classics, notsomuch 'Sense and Sensibility'. But aside from that fact, the addition of sea monsters gives this book an almost complete digression from the original; from locations to character backgrounds, hordes of new adventures and a number of mysteries. The basic plot & characters remains unchanged. Although the book proves to be more satirical and humor-laced than 'Zombies'. Oddly enough, this read has renewed my interest in rereading the original.*Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 10, 2010
Following Pride & Prejudice & Zombie's example, this next entry into adding horror/humor into Jane Austen fell nastily flat. While it might please those unfamiliar with the original or uncritical in their requirements for humor, I'd be hard put to imagine who would really enjoy it. Its dependence on "oo, some character we don't know and don't care about was just eaten" gags and insistence on emphasizing at every turn how stupid the author thought the main characters of the original really were, any sympathy readers might feel that would serve to help them slog through this mess is chopped up like chum and tossed away with about as much concern.
However, it's a decent recommendation for those who hate Jane Austen and want to see her writing in the worse possible light.
Posted May 5, 2010
I have never read the original version by Austen but I imagine with the writing style the same characters and similar situations and settings are employed. A wonderful quick read to escape for a few hours and enjoy mindless entertainment. Not a literary achievement in this rewritten version but enjoyable and quite interesting. The descriptions and characters are vivid and detailed and the illustrations, (even on the Nook) come across as antiqued woodcuts. Recommended for anyone who enjoys the offbeat and satire.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.