My Name Was Never Frankenstein: And Other Classic Adventure Tales Remixed

My Name Was Never Frankenstein: And Other Classic Adventure Tales Remixed

by Bryan Furuness (Editor)


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You know the names and the stories, but you've never seen them like this before!

My Name Was Never Frankenstein: And Other Classic Adventure Tales Reanimated brings your favorite characters back to life in new and exciting escapades. In this inventive collection, a stellar cast of writers uses classic adventure tales as a launch pad for an eclectic mix of prequels, alternate universes, spin-offs, and total reboots. Imagine Ahab is shipwrecked on an island of cannibals, or Mr. Hyde tells his side of the story, or the scarecrow from Oz struggles with the mystery of his existence. By turns wry and haunting, My Name Was Never Frankenstein upends old territory and classic characters to reclaim them for a new generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253036346
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2019
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Bryan Furuness is author of The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson and editor (with Michael Martone) of Winesburg, Indiana. His stories have appeared in New Stories from the Midwest, Best American Nonrequired Reading , and elsewhere. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Rachel Brittain is an alumna of Vanderbilt University, but currently lives and writes in Arkansas. Her short film, "The Delivery Girl," has been screened at film festivals in Los Angeles and New York, and her novelette, "End of the World Talk Show," is forthcoming in Hyperion and Theia.

Margaret Patton Chapman is the author of the novella Bell and Bargain from Rose Metal Press. Her short fiction has appeared in Diagram , The Collagist , and Prick of the Spindle , among others. She lives in Durham, NC and teaches at Elon University.

Michael Czyzniejewski’s most recent collection of stories is I Will Love You For the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015). He is an associate professor of English at Missouri State University, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief of Moon City Review and Managing and Literary Editor for Moon City Press.

Tony Eprile’s novel, The Persistence of Memory , was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and won the Koret Jewish Book prize. His stories—several of which are literary homages—have appeared in Ploughshares, Agni, Story Quarterly, GlimmerTrain, Post Road , and elsewhere. He teaches fiction in Lesley University’s low-residency graduate program.

Kelcey Parker Ervick spent many summers visiting her grandparents in Barnegat, NJ, gazing out at Old Barney, the distinctive red and white lighthouse across the bay. Some of the details and journal entries in her story are taken from Women Who Kept the Lights: An Illustrated History of Female Lighthouse Keepers by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford, which she found at her grandparents’ house and "borrowed" with a promise to write a story one day. She lives in South Bend, Indiana, an hour away from Michigan City Lighthouse, where Harriet Colfax kept the light for 43 years. She is pretty sure women lighthouse keepers are the most adventurous of us all.

Kathleen Founds has worked at a nursing home, a phone bank, a South Texas middle school, and a Midwestern technical college specializing in truck-driving certificates. She got her undergraduate degree at Stanford and her MFA at Syracuse. She teaches social justice themed English classes at Cabrillo College in Watsonville, CA, and writes while her toddler is napping. Her work has been published in The Sun, Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker Online, McSweeney's Internet Tendency , Salon and Booth Journal. Her novel-in-stories, When Mystical Creatures Attack! won the 2014 University of Iowa Press John Simmons Short Fiction Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book.

Bryan Furuness is the author of The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, a novel. With Michael Martone, he co-edited the anthology, Winesburg, Indiana. His stories can be found in New Stories from the Midwest and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. He lives in Indianapolis, where he teaches at Butler University.

Molly Gutman is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Nevada, Reno. You can find her stories and poems in Black Warrior Review , Mid-American Review , Hayden’s Ferry review Online , Psychopomp Magazine, The Pinch,  and elsewhere.

Pam Houston is the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat. Her stories have been selected for the 1999 volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize , and she is a regular contributor to O, the Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Bark , More,  and many other periodicals.  A collection of autobiographical essays, A Little More About Me (W.W. Norton), was published in 1999, and a novel, Sight Hound  (W.W. Norton) in 2005. Houston has edited a collection of fiction, nonfiction and poetry for Ecco Press called Women on Hunting , and written the text for a book of photographs called Men Before Ten A.M. (Beyond Words, 1996). Her novel, Contents May Have Shifted, was released in 2012 by W.W. Norton.

Kirsty Logan is the author of short story collection The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales , awarded the Polari First Book Prize and the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection, and debut novel The Gracekeepers,  awarded a Lambda Literary Award. Her most recent book, A Portable Shelter , is a collection of linked short stories inspired by Scottish folktales and was published in a limited edition with custom woodblock illustrations. Her next novel, The Gloaming , is out in May 2018. She is currently working on a collection of short horror stories, a TV pilot script, and a musical collaboration project.

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister ; Lost ; Mirror Mirror ; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked , Son of a Witch , A Lion Among Men , and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and Esquire/Narrative. He has published 9 novels, 4 short story collections, and 5 full-length poetry collections, and a dozen chapbooks. His novel, Memphis Movie , attracted kind words from Ann Beattie, Peter Coyote, and William Hjorstberg, among others. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and 2 of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife he runs a 142 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at

Michael Poore is the author of the novels Reincarnation Blues (Del Rey, 2017) and Up Jumps the Devil (Ecco, 2012). His short work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Year’s Best Science Fiction and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. He lives with his wife, poet Janine Harrison, and daughter Jianna, in Highland, IN.

Edward Porter’s short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Hudson Review, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, Booth, Barrelhouse, Catamaran, Best New American Voices , and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD from the University of Houston. He has been a Madison, Macdowell, and Stegner Fellow, and taught creative writing at Milllsaps College. Currently he is a Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University.

Read an Excerpt


The Return of the Ape Man

Edward Porter


I haven't seen Jane in years. Last I heard she had an antiques shop in Pasadena. I couldn't face her. I don't want her to see the way I am now. My pelt looks like Methuselah's bath mat. I barely have any paunch left, and I used to have a nice fat one, too. I can't remember the last time I had a good grooming. These days, I'm lucky if I remember to check my own head for ticks. One day you're an alpha and you think it'll last forever, then you're a beta, then ... I don't know, the bottom drops out, and you're way downstream in the white man alphabet. Not that I give a damn. Don't have a troop, don't want one; been there, swung on that, thank you very much.

In LA, nobody wants to hear your shitty little story anyway. Gomangani, Tarmangani, my aunt Fanny, no one cares, just pay your tab. And I didn't blow my movie money, not all of it. My PETA rep got me disability, too. I should have been dead forever ago. I'm going to sit here by the hotel pool with my Hennessey and my Dunhills until the janitor puts me in the compost bin. I want to go out like Warren Zevon. Look away down Gower Avenue, know what I'm saying?

Him? You mean, His Lordship? No idea where he is. Don't know, don't care. I won't say his jungle name. I won't give him that anymore. He's forfeited the moral right to it, as far as I'm concerned. Did you know he trademarked it, and he'll sue your ass if you use it? I call it the T-word. If I have to talk about him, I call him that, or His Lordship. It's funny, nobody remembers his actual name. It's John. How boring is that? Me John — you Jane. What a farce.

I believed in him once. It seems ludicrous now. All I can say is, you didn't know him when. He was beautiful, man. Once.

What did I see in her? I know what you're thinking. You bet I just wanted to fuck the boss's girlfriend. Or maybe you think it was revenge for the way I came off in the movies, like I was his errand boy. "Cheeta! Run for help! Get Tantor the elephant!" Every time the action heated up, and the kids stopped fighting over jujubes and actually watched the movie, all you'd see of me is my scrawny naked ass hustling off screen. Then you wouldn't see me again until just before the credits, when I'd be in the background hitting myself in the head with a palm leaf as the music came up. You know what the business was like back then. They didn't want it good, they wanted it Thursday. But I have no regrets, and I think my work stands up. I did what I could with the writing I was given. Anyway, that was years later. So no, it wasn't about payback. I fell for her hard.

I can't say she was a looker. Body like a snake with breasts, weird green eyes, no fur, that bizarre, grub-colored skin. Nothing much in the way of nails, nothing that could really dig into a guy's fur and come up with the lice. And, oh my fucking Christ, that leopard-skin one-piece. I still get the heebie-jeebies thinking about it. It made her look sad and lost, like she was pretending to be something she wasn't. That wasn't her idea. He put her in that outfit. He wanted everyone to know she belonged to him. How messed up is that, to dress your girlfriend like she's a little you?

I can't tell you the number of times the two of them showed up at the clearing and the whole troop looked at each other, like, can you believe this? Are they for real? I mean, I'm a chimpanzee, and you're dressing as a leopard. Do you have any idea how disturbing that is for me? It's an insult, if you want to know the truth. What if my kid sees you? He's going to have a conniption. But that's not the worst of it. After he settles down and gets used to you, after you two play with him, bounce him around, put him on your weird, hairless shoulders, is he going to lose his fear of leopards? Because that is a big problem right there. I am definitely not okay with my kid thinking leopards are cool. For that matter, the name he gave me: Cheeta. Cheetahs are one of my predators, too. What if I got to name him Cancer or Polio? Why did he have to give me a new name in the first place? What the hell is wrong with Harold?

But they were careless people, he and Jane. They smashed up things and creatures — like wildebeests and hippos — then retreated back into their tools and anthropocentrism, or whatever else it was that kept them together, and left the rest of us to pick up the doo-doo they left on the forest floor.

So what did I see in her? She saw me. She saw the simian and accepted it for what it was, but she also saw a sensitive, curious guy with an inner world like her own.

His Lordship was just a blur of motion. Run! Swim! Climb! Find the poachers! Wrestle the crocodile! Fight the lion! Just vine to jolly old vine all day long. I admit, I admired his moxie. He never chickened out on anyone, never said, "I'm tired, let Alan Quartermain deal with Queen La today." There was something pure about him, back in the jungle. He was hardly enlightened. He'd stab anything or anybody and not think twice. He took killing guys from Mbonga's tribe about as seriously as badminton. But we were all like that, back then. I used to have quite the yen for monkey liver. You want to say I ate my relatives, knock yourself out. My point is, he had clear ideas about right and wrong — however grotesque — and he always acted on them. But all he did was act, and that gets exhaust- ing. How can you get close to someone who never stops moving? How do you get quality time with someone who's always hanging from a cliff?

Jane was different. One time His Lordship was off climbing to the top of the waterfall to see which way the kaiser's secret battalion of gold robbers had gone, and she and I had fifteen minutes to ourselves. We were on that beautiful ridgeline on the west side of Kilimanjaro, just past the gorge. There's a stretch of gently sloping pink basalt that you can lean back on like a Barcalounger, and we sat taking the evening air, looking at Venus come up out of the sunset, the sky pink and gold and shimmering, like a baby mamba's first set of scales, with the black-green jungle below us, and that rooty, gingery baobab smell rising up and mingling with the jasmine and the kola nut flower. It got to me, and I blew out hard through my nostrils, the way you do when it's all so much no pant-hoot or hoot-grunt can even begin to express your yearning. She reached out, ran her hand over my occipital bump, and said, "Oh, Cheeta, I know. I feel it, too."

We were interspecies before it was trendy. Back when it cost you. I remember one time the three of us were in a bar in Mombasa, after she'd broken up with him and started seeing me. He'd mostly gotten over it by then, or said he had. He was all about noble. He was going to be noble if it killed him.

"Let best primate win," he'd said when I told him I was in love with her, grinning like he had nothing to worry about. A week later, after she'd made her choice, he came by my tree in the morning, eyes red, lower lip trembling, and said, "T-word not have hard feelings. Cheeta and T-word still bros." He looked up at my leafy bower, obviously wondering if she was there right now, blissed out on afterglow, stretching her arms, arching her back, thinking about seconds. As it happened, that's exactly where she was and what she was doing, but I wasn't going to throw it in his face. "T-word wish you and Jane all happiness," he stammered, like it was his big gift, and went off into the bush, probably to stab something helpless. Noble, right?

Anyway, a few weeks later, the three of us were in the bar drinking warm beer because don't get me started on the Brits, and this fat Belgian poacher wearing a necklace of warthog tusks saw me and Jane holding hands and said to her, "Do you need a notepad?" I looked at him like, what's this guy's problem? He came a little closer. "I said, do you need a notepad, miss?" He could barely hold in the giggles.

"No," Jane said. "I don't think so. Why do you ask?" She was like that. A little too good-hearted, never had her eyes peeled for quicksand.

"Because you've already got the pencil!" he said, and cracked up, and the rest of the bar cracked up with him. And it hit me — he meant my penis.

Jane turned red. "Excuse me," she said, and headed for the ladies. I turned and looked over at His Lordship, and he was smirking.

"Why didn't you say something?" I asked, trying not to bare my canines. "Why do you think that's an okay conversation for someone to have with your best friends?"

"Cheeta too sensitive," he said. "Not everything about species."

I didn't even threat-display. I just swatted him off his barstool like he was a slug on my banana leaf. I may have weighed ninety pounds, but I was still a fucking chimpanzee and twice as strong as any man.

Then I turned on that fat Belgian fuck and showed him the canines, the incisors, the molars, the whole shebang, and he put his hands up, like, hey, whoa, he didn't want any trouble. He wasn't giggling now.

The Brit bartender said, in his constipated, plummy, Brit accent, "Perhaps you and your peculiar companion might leave us now." Talking to His Lordship, you understand. I turned back around and said, "Have the fucking courtesy —" I didn't finish the sentence. I just let it hang there.

Jane came out of the ladies and saw John Clayton, Lord Greystoke sitting on his lordly ass in the sawdust and groundnut shells, looking like driver ants just crawled up his butt. "Go outside," I told her. "You don't want to watch this, trust me."

"They're not worth it," she said.

"I agree," I said. "But you are."

She rolled her eyes and said, "Males!" For a second, I thought she was going to grab me under the arms, go ups-a-daisy, and carry me out. But then she looked right at me and saw I needed this. Like I said. She saw me. She bent down, kissed me on the lips, long, slow, and juicy, and I heard a little moan from the floor. "I love you," she said. "Don't be long." Then she walked out the door.

His Lordship curled his lip at me. I faced him, the bartender, the Belgian, and the rest of those Homo sapiens jungle cutters, all of them scared and waiting for me to make my move.

What did I do? I'm not going to lie. I took a dump right on the bar. It felt great, too. Best dump I ever took.

Later, I forgave the bastard. He left cigarettes and whiskey out on the veranda for a few nights, and I decided to call that an apology. I knew we'd all be dead of old age waiting for him to verbalize it.

Of course, once Jane and I got to Hollywood, they bent the rules for us. If you're a star, you get away with anything there. They looked the other way for Lassie and Timmy, too. At least we were both adults.

Life was great. We'd all made the big time. What could possibly go wrong?

She wanted a baby. I'd had something between four and eight of them myself, as far as I knew. Twelve, tops. But I was willing to do it again. After all, she'd be the one who'd be carrying it on her back for three years, not me. I pictured a little humanzee, part her and part me. I figured with her brains and my body the kid could go to UCLA on a gymnastics scholarship. So we tried for years. It's theoretically possible. It's closer than horses and donkeys. But it didn't happen. Maybe we felt too much pressure.

So one morning at the Malibu cottage over eggs Benedict, she said, "Let's adopt."

I said, "Great. We can drive down to San Diego tomorrow, pick one out at the zoo, and be back in time for that sunset sail to Catalina with Gable and Lombard. The kid can climb the rigging, get some sea air. It'll be a hoot, as long as he doesn't fall in the drink."

She smiled, reached past the jam to hold my paw, and said, "Guess again."

That knocked me for a loop, and I had to confront a hard truth. Jane aside, I didn't trust humans. Some kid I'd never met — I don't know. What if, instead of a father, he sees me as a pet? You feed a child, put a roof over its head, and then one day you're on a leash at someone's sweet sixteen party and they're calling you Mr. Pebbles. I felt vulnerable, so I said, "Can I think about it?"

Her face went pale like she'd seen a Gaboon viper, and she squeezed my paw. "I know it's a big commitment. Take all the time you need." She held out some runny egg on her finger for me to lick off, and I thought she'd understood my fear. But then she spent the rest of the morning alone on the deck, staring at the surf crashing against the rocks.

After that, the subject never came up again. She'd seen me all right. This time maybe she didn't like what she saw. Looking back, do I wish I'd just gone with it, taken the risk? You bet. But there's no rewind in life. You can't put the colobus back in the tree once you've ripped off its head, as my mother liked to say.

The scripts got worse. Jane and I fought the screenwriters, but those were really proxy fights with His Lordship about who deserved credit for what back in Africa. His name was on the picture, so I don't have to tell you who won. At least he was a professional on the set. I'll give him that.

One Saturday morning, we'd planned a drive up Highway 1 with Marlene Dietrich to get some fresh air, but by the time she came over, I'd already had a few too many to get behind the wheel. "Why don't you sleep it off?" Jane said. "The two of us will be back by sundown, and we'll all go out to dinner." That was fine by me. I wasn't crazy about Germans. I'd met some nasty ones in Africa. Did you know when Kipling wrote, "Lesser races without the law," he was talking about German colonists, not the locals? Around eight o'clock, I woke up to the phone ringing, and it was Jane saying the car had broken down and the two of them were spending the night at a motel in Isla Vista. I didn't see her again until a week later, when she came by for her clothes.

I didn't handle it gracefully. She was wearing a new pair of silver bracelets. "I like your handcuffs," I said. "Does she chain you to the wall at night, like those diamond thieves back in Opar? If a certain chimpanzee hadn't shimmied down a vine with the key, your flat Baltimore ass would still be hanging there."

"Don't spoil the memories," she said. "You're going to need them some day." She ran her hand over my occipital bump one last time and left me. I turned my back on all of apedom for her, and she left me. Give me a minute, would you? This hot wind gets in my eyes, makes a mess of them.

Anyway, that's how we killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Word got around Hollywood that none of the three of us would work with each other, so the studio called it quits on our jungle adventures. I'd been looking forward to doing serious drama for a change, but suddenly, it was like I had dengue fever, and no one would touch me. People came by my table at Ciro's and said, "They typecast you, the lousy so-and-sos. That should have been you in Treasure of the Sierra Madre." But in truth, I was in no shape to make a picture. Losing Jane wrecked me. The only silver lining was that I was finally free of His Lordship, or so I thought.

But of course, true to form, the bastard returned.

He drove up to my house in his Bentley, come to rub it in, I thought. "Terribly sorry to hear it, old boy. Women. Damned fickle things, you know." He'd taken elocution lessons by then so that he could talk like an English lord off screen. He also favored a gray three-piece suit in wool and a fedora.

"Who asked you?" I said. I stood in my doorway, a bottle of rye in one paw and an eight-by-ten glossy of my lost love in the other, taking in the affront of his civilization. "You're wearing spats. For thirty years you don't even wear shoes, now you're wearing spats. Spats are bullshit. That car is bullshit." I tried to slam the door on him, but I fell over instead. "You're bullshit," I said into the carpet.

He carried me to the shower and turned on the cold water for ten minutes. Then he poured a pot of black coffee down my throat, wrapped me up in a blanket, put me in the back of his fine piece of British engineering, drove me to the clinic himself, and gave them his signed check with the amount left blank.

I don't think he felt one drop of guilt. It was just his character. He had a savior complex, so he rescued you. It's what he did. He was a preening racist, sexist, humanist jackass, and not much of an actor, but he rescued you. And this story, which was supposed to be about me and Jane, somehow ends with a close-up of him. I hate that son of a bitch.


Oh, what an ugly baby! You hear that a lot. It's a joke. In a way, all babies are ugly, with scrunched-up faces and weird, oversized heads, but at the same time babies are the most beautiful thing in the world, and no one really can have an ugly baby. Except me. I really did.


Excerpted from "My Name was Never Frankenstein"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Bryan Furuness.
Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1. The Return of the Ape Man / Edward Porter

2. John Thorton Speaks / Pam Houston

3. A True History of the Notorious Mr. Edward Hyde / Tony Eprile

4. Island of the Kingsbride / Molly Gutman

5. What the Fire God Said to the Beasts / Michael Poore

6. Huck and Hominy: A Legend / Corey Mesler

7. The Planning Meeting for Bringing College Classes to the Local Prison Takes a Weird Turn / Kathleen Founds

8. Afterwards / Gregory Maguire

9. Listen to Me / Bryan Furuness

10. Dear Nobody / Kristy Logan

11. There Was Once a Man / Kelcey Parker Ervick

12. The Legends of Żorro / Michael Czyzniejewski

13. The Wonderworld / Margaret Patton Chapman

14. My Name Was Never Frankenstein / Rachel Brittain

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