Picks and Pans Review: The Book of Sequels
by Henry Beard, Christopher Cerf, Sarah Durkee and Sean Kelly
For those who think bygones should stay bygone and are already on part 97 of their continuing vendettas against sequels, this book is a sign of hope.
Written by four National Lampoon refugees, it is a collection of parody prose and artwork purportedly growing from a failure to understand how “sons-of, Part IIs, updates, returns-of, revenges-of, and their ilk ever fell into disrepute in the first place.”
Its least entertaining sections suggest defiance of the maxim linking brevity, soulful-ness and wit. There is, for instance, a grueling 31-page combination send-up of Moby-Dick and Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic, titled Moby-Dick II: Raise the Pequod!
But there are many joys, such as an ad for a theme park based on T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland and excerpts from sequels to Joyce Kilmer’s Trees, such as “I think that I shall never glance/ At poems lovelier than plants” and I’d have to be a whole lot hepper/ To make a poem like a pepper.”
A sample of the Existendo video games catalog shows a screen from the “Myth of Sisyphus Game.” with a scoreboard that says “Rock: 2,406; You: 0.”
An ad for a boxed set of sequels to Dostoyevski’s novel The Idiot includes such titles as The Idiot X: The Dumb Bunny. A promotion for the Orwellian sequel Vegetable Farm raises the questions, “Are we ourselves the apathetic romaine, the dispassionate kohlrabi, the stupefied potatoes unmindful of the threat of a newly malevolent tuber? Or is everything just going to be okay?”
Now the only thing to guard against is this book turning into a hit and its authors succumbing to temptation. If The Book of Sequels II appears, all praise contained herein will be retroactively retracted. (Random House, paper, $16.95)