Monthly Archives: April 2009

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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To begin, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is wonderfully clever.  Seth Grahame-Smith takes an idea that would be a great 5-minute SNL skit and manages to have it carry a 300+ page book.  He weaves the Zombies into the existing work organically, placing the action where it heightens rather than impedes the plot.  Grahame-Smith works in a complete world, the zombies don’t just appear every dozen pages and wreak havoc, they are very much on the characters’ minds.  In fact, I found that I had no problems with the additions to Austen’s text in the form of Zombies, Ninjas, and Martial Arts; they work, and that is a compliment to Grahame-Smith’s very inventive mind.  Beyond simply functioning, the Zombie/Ninja stuff is hysterical.

“To walk three miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! With the unmentionable menace dragging poor souls off the road and to their doom day and night? What could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum….I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”

“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”

This was the first passage that made me actually laugh out loud, and considering that instead of a walk through the countryside Elizabeth’s exercise was a desperate fight against three Zombies, it actually improves on the original.  Grahame-Smith manages to give many of the iconic moments in Pride and Prejudice his own twist, and I never disliked those changes.

If all Seth Grahame-Smith had done to Pride and Prejudice was add Zombies, even preserving the passages he edited to better fit the undead, this would be an unequivocally enthusiastic review.  However, he falls down in two major areas that give me pause in recommending it, especially to other Austen fans.  First, he could have used a better editor, in terms of consistency, the abridgment, and the text making sense.  Second, he adds passages that push things to the point of caricature, demolishing depth and historical accuracy along the way.  I’m saving most of my full blown ire on this subject for a separate post, for people who think they can handle me in full on I-once-aspired-to-be-the-world’s-foremost-authority-on-Jane-Austen mode.

Grahame-Smith really needs a better editor.  His spelling of Bennet, the surname of 7 main characters, fluctuates throughout the novel.  This something a word processor can fix; there’s simply no excuse for it.  He also, consistantly refers to the militia quartered at Meryton as the “shire Milita.”  In Austen’s text they are the “—-shire Militia”, a proper noun with the full name of the county ommitted.  By deleting the “—-” Grahame-Smith indicates that they are either the militia for the county, the archaic (even in the 19th century) term would be shire, or that he doesn’t understand what he’s doing by either improperly capatalizing a proper noun or ignoring the reasons for the “—-” altogether.  A better editor would have, hopefully, improved Grahame-Smith’s abysmal abridgment as well.  He cuts scenes so that, from my (Comprehensive Pride and Prejudice Awareness of 50.25) perspective, they cease to make sense.  Deleting lines for no reason other than to make scenes shorter, on at least a few occasions sacrificing Austen’s subtle humor for space to fit in his own.  Furthermore, there are actual logical errors in his alterations, places where he has characters talk about other characters pages before discovering their identities.  I’m not talking a “we haven’t been introduced” thing, this is a “whoah! I never would have guessed that these people are actually —” thing.  Suffice it to say that his abridgments bothered me, both as an Austenite and because some of them made no sense.  Simply put, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gives Twilight a run for it’s money when it comes to bad editing. (grammatical errors intended)

Jane Austen write light satire; her characters have flaws that critique certain elements of Regency life, but her commentary isn’t blatant, at least not until Seth Grahame-Smith gets his hands on it.  I understand that Grahame-Smith’s work is satirizing Austen, I do, but I really dislike how he goes about it.  He pushes several of the characters, including Darcy to the point where they lose their depth and become caricature.  It’s painful for me to watch these characters that I know so well get regulated to two dimensions and it’s untrue to the spirit of the book.  I could maybe handle some of the satire if it wasn’t so entirely modern in character.  I’m weird and I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in lieu of a book I’m still reading: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England, a history book dedicated to bettering the 21st century reader’s understanding of 19th century literature, and I’m not learning a whole lot of new information from it either.  I know my shit when it comes to Austen, so when people like Darcy spout things like

“Miss Bingley, the groans of a hundred unmentionables would be more pleasing to my ears then one more word from your mouth…”

it actually causes me pain. 1) Darcy is, according to Austen, polite to those select few he deems his peers, which definitely includes Miss Bingley. 2) At this time period, even given certain changes for an infestation of zombies, class is still important enough to prevent Darcy and Bingley from marrying the Bennet sister of their choice so it would be unthinkable for Darcy to be so rude to his friend, peer, and hostess.  The caricaturization and historical inaccuracy persist throughout the book and while they are nitpicky details, they contribute to ruin the otherwise enjoyable experience.

In the end, do I recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?  To anyone from the Austen-hater to the casual Austen fan, yes.  It is a clever, funny, entertaining take on the classic novel.  However, if you really love Pride and Prejudice, if you’ve watched the BBC/A&E Miniseries multiple times, if you’ve read all of Austen’s other novels, then you might want to take a pass on this one, maybe take it out from the library.  I’m not saying that no Pride and Prejudice fan could enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I enjoyed it quite a bit, actually.  I’m just cautioning people before they invest time and money into something they might not enjoy.

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What’s your Pride and Prejudice Awareness?

For my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I’ve had to cut up my review depending on how familiar the reader is with Pride and Prejudice (especially the Book and Miniseries) and Jane Austen in general, I call this my “Comprehensive Pride and Prejudice Awareness.”  A reader very familiar with Austen’s work will deal with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies differently than a reader who hasn’t and I want my review to address that fact.  This brings us back to the CPPA, which takes into account everything I can think of that might expose people to Pride and Prejudice or Jane Austen, with a bit more weight for Pride and Prejudice because the review is Pride and Prejudice specific.  My score’s pretty astronomical (I’ll tell you guys what it is when I post the review), but even I don’t hit every single point.

I was so amused by the whole idea of the CPPA that I thought I would share it with you guys before posting the review (tomorrow, hopefully). Enjoy! Let me know your score in the comments!
Austen Quiz

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How much good can Baseball do?

I promise, I will write about something other than Baseball the next time I blog.  This continues from the last post though, so bear with me (note that I really love Baseball, so until October throws me into the depths of despair it’ll show up).

When last we left our heroine (me) her baseball knitting was a plain sock that looked like this:Plane Jane Sock 2 Progress

Immediately following that post the intrepid knitter headed to the last home opener at the Metrodome.  Upon reaching the stadium she knit on her sock, enjoyed the view from center field, watched the fastest man in baseball drop a two run homer 30 yards in front of her, and suffered through a devistating loss for the Minnesota Twins.  Upon reaching home her sock looked like this:img_0217

Clear progress, though not as much as the night before.  However, on Sunday I was in the lounge watching on TV whereas on Monday I was at the stadium.  When I’m at the game I find that I make less progress because I keep doing things like talking with other people, cheering, eating, the wave, and enjoying the view.  Still, I made clear progress and my sock is getting closer and closer to becoming the second of a pair.  So there, conclusive proof that baseball time is great knitting time.  I’d go into the other multitudinous virtues of Baseball (common topic for conversation with most American males, excitement, drama, general kick assness) but to my fellow knitters out there “three hours of minimally interrupted knitting time” really beats any other reason.

On the topic of my dearest, darling Minnesota Twins, well, I’m not sure what to think.  We’re down two catchers, both of whom are incredibly useful bats as well.  The Twins have struggled with run production for the last couple of seasons and it pains me to see pitchers like Nick Blackburn and Glen Perkins get the L when they only let in one run.  I’m of the opinion that better discipline at the plate would fix a lot of the Twins scoring problems, but you could easily make the case for more power or a stronger bullpen.  I can’t wait to see what happens as the team settles into the regular season, especially once Joe Mauer returns to his rightful spot behind Home Plate.  I would also like to note how delighted I am by Carlos Gomez’s improvement since last year. I love watching him play (he moves so beautifully) so I’m happy when he gets more time on the field.

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Baseball Season is Knitting Season

Baseball season has arrived at last.  The four solid weeks reading Keats hasn’t given me the descriptive poewrs to express how good it feels to have the sounds of a Mets/Reds or a Nationals/Marlin’s game floating out of my speakers (from the MLB iPod app, Game Day Audio FTW).  My family has always been big baseball fans, a situation that has only gotten worse as time has gone on.  It’s gotten so bad that we made a pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame over Thanksgiving (I lost my camera right after that and I therefore have none of the pictures I took that day or over the whole break)

I would blame the increase of baseball watching on my parents need to keep themselves entertained as my sisters and I grow up and move out, but that would only be a half-truth.  In reality, Mom and I realized that during a Baseball game we can knit, basically uninterrupted, for three hours.

You might think, how much of a difference could three hours of knitting really make, you guys knit all the time anyway.

I could argue with those thinkers for a thousand or more words, but I’ve got a picture that’ll do just fine.

Plane Jane Sock 1This is my mindless knitting, a sock in S.R. Kertzer On Your Toes 4 Ply.  I’ve been working on this on and off since Christmas, I finished this sock over Interim break when I did almost nothing except for sit on the deck of the cruise ship, knit, and listen to all 4 Twilight audiobooks (Shannon Okey expressed worry over my burgeoning addiction, but I’m fine, really, I’m not addicted to the Sparkle!crack at all *twitch*).  Now during Frbruary and March I knit the toe and the first few increases on the instep (which I really should have taken pictures of when I updated Ravelry yesterday), and then yesterday the Baseball season started.

Plane Jane Sock 2 Progress

I did most of the instep and all of the heel turn while I watched the Braves beat up on the Phillies.  That is more progress than I’ve made, literally in months and it’s no mistake that it happened on the first day of Baseball season.  Check out the side view for a better idea of how much I knit.

Plane Jane 2 Progress 2

There is such a perfect chemistry between Baseball and knitting.  If you aren’t watching every second, you might miss some awesome things (my favorite/what I always miss are double plays), but you can certainly follow the game while knitting.  I, obviously, find the expereience pretty entertaining and if the proliferation of Stitch n’ Pitch events throughout the country is any indication I’m not the only knitter that thinks that (the site appears to be down right now, so I think we may have crashed it).

Baseball is a very important part of my life, and I’m so very glad to have it back, it feels like I’ve just put on new glasses and I can really see again (I just got new glasses, remind me to show you guys).  While I’ve been writing this post I’ve listened to the Mets beat the Reds and the Nationals give up 6 runs to the Marlins, looks like they’re headed to their usual place, “First in War, First in Peace, last in the National League”.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the Twins home opener (the last in the Metrodome).  Go Twins!

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