11/22/2017

Jun. 4, 2001: If fish truly is brain food, then my cerebellum runneth over.

I have just swooped into the exquisite little Georgia Sea Grill on Saint Simons Island and devoured all the corn-fried shrimp I could get my hands on. Those little critters never had a chance.

With a face covered in tartar sauce and a brain kicked into overdrive, I was seized with a stroke of genius. I have decided to embark on a whole new career. I am going to select serious literary classics and rewrite them in a superficial, non-intellectual fashion. Then I am going to call myself an honest-to-God author. I can’t credit the corn-fried shrimp for this brilliant idea, however. My inspiration comes from Alice Randall, who has produced a parody of “Gone With The Wind,” entitled, “The Wind Done Gone.” Clever title, eh?

Randall has a lot of folks in a swivet. Some say the parody of Margaret Mitchell’s book is a cheap shot. Others say Randall is only exercising her right of free speech and, besides, everybody else is rewriting Southern history, why not her? I am of a third opinion. To quote Clark Gable, who played Rhett Butler – or was it the other way around? – in the movie version of “GWTW” that was every bit as boring as the book, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I just want to make some easy money off the hard work of others.

Given the originality that Randall has evidenced in the title of her book, spoofing others’ works seems to require the intelligence of a broom handle. Certainly, spoofery has to be easier than writing columns. Columns require a lot of facts and numbers and that is difficult. Then there is the issue of thinking up all those nouns and verbs and dependent clauses and being sure they end up more or less in the right order. Not to mention all that worrisome punctuation. (I usually write my column in a single 750-word sentence and then send the editors a load of commas and periods and an occasional semi-colon and let them put them where they want. It makes them feel important.)

Writing parodies of American novels is going to be a slam-dunk. Somebody else has already produced the plot, the characters, the dialogue. All I have to do is change a few words here and there and call it my own. In college, this type of writing was known as plagiarism and was frowned upon by all of my professors. Today we call it parody and it can make you a best-selling author. Is this a great country or what?

I am pleased to announce my first work will be a rewrite of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “The Color Purple.” My version is called “The Color Done Changed To White.” Instead of following the travails of Celie, a black woman growing up in the racist South, my book will chronicle a character named Wanda Jean and the obstacles she faces in her search for sweet tea in the South Bronx. While I am certain Oprah Winfrey will lobby hard to play Wanda Jean in the movie, I promised the role to Kim Novak. I have agreed to play her boyfriend.

I considered rewriting the godawful Tom Wolfe book, “A Man In Full,” which caused quite a stir in Atlanta a couple of years ago. This is the story of Charlie Coker, a has-been Georgia Tech football player and over-extended developer and Fareek “The Cannon” Fannon, a jive-talking running back at Tech. In the book, Coker comes across as stupid and “The Cannon” as a racist. Tech people were rightfully embarrassed by “A Man In Full.” Tom Wolfe should have been. I gave up on the rewrite, not figuring out how I could parody a parody.

I am already at work on my next book. “I Done Gone And Killed A Mockingbird” is the story of a little boy who wants to be a Boy Scout and go camping but gays won’t let him since they can’t be scoutmasters. The little boy gets mad and kills a mockingbird. It is a sad story.

Hopefully, Alice Randall and I will be able to collaborate on a future project. I am thinking about “To Catch A Thief.” In this version, the main character will be named Margaret Mitchell and she will spoof “The Wind Done Gone,” and make a million dollars. It won’t be fiction. You’ll find it at your local bookstore on the aisle labeled Poetic Justice.