The OF Blog: Phil Edwards and Lewis Carroll, Snooki in Wonderland: The Improved Classic

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Phil Edwards and Lewis Carroll, Snooki in Wonderland: The Improved Classic

As a general rule, I do my best to avoid the so-called "literary mash-ups" inspired by the 2009 release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  On the whole, they have little appeal to me, as the premises usually too strained from trying to stuff together romance (and zombies/sea monsters) or political biographies (and vampire hunting).  The source text's writing is too different from the interjected comedic monster bits for there to be any real satiric or entertainment value from that.

So why in the hell did I choose to read a mash-up of a beloved classic, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and the "stars" of MTV's Jersey Shore?  Beyond my bemusement at all things Snooki, I suspected the whimsy Carroll employs in his tale (which over the years has been subverted to make all sorts of drug references) would actually mesh well with the vapid, alcohol-fueled musings of Snooki, J-Woww, the Situation, and others.  Plus, at only $0.99 at the Kindle Store, I thought it was worth the risk.

It was all very well to say 'Drink me,' but wise little Snooki was not going to do THAT in a hurry.  'No, I'll look first,' she said, 'and see whether it's marked "roofi" or not;'  for she had read several nice little histories about guidettes who had got herpes simplex, and spend summers away from the Shore, all because they WOULD not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them:  such as, that a guido with sores should not be kissed; and that if you wasted your time with a normal job, you would not spend summer upon the shore; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked 'roofi,' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.

However, this bottle was NOT marked 'roofi,' so Snooki ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of pickles, chicken cutlets, fried calamari, ham, pizza, and fine pasta,) she very soon finished it off.

From a kitschy point of view, this is pure brilliance.  This passage (and illustration) perfectly captures Jersey Shore's zeitgeist...or perhaps its confused monologues.  Whereas Alice might be cautious of poison, Snooki in the world of Wonderland is after the perfecting tanning spot (behind the door to the garden, natch) and her concerns are more of a drunken nature than little Alice might be.  Yet in her odd musing, Snooki feels as much at home in this bizarre scene meld as she would on the Shore.  It might not be Carroll's Wonderland, but Phil Edwards' Shore-infused Wonderland does make us wonder how Snooki and Crew can roam our land while being poster children for vapid reality TV.

Although there are longeurs where it feels Edwards could not think of how to Shore-ize Carroll's scenes adequately enough, we do get to witness bizarre scenes that do feel as much at home in New Jersey as it would in Wonderland:

"I dare say you're wondering why I don't put my arm round your waist," the Duchess Angelina said after a pause:  "the reason is, that I'm doubtful about the temper of your flamingo.  Shall I try the experiment?"

"HE might bite," Snooki cautiously replied, not feeling at all anxious to have the experiment tried.

"Very true," said the Duchess Angelina:  "flamingoes and tequila shots both bite.  And the moral of that is – 'Birds of a feather flock together.'"

"Only tequila isn't a bird," Snooki remarked.

"Right, as usual," said the Duchess Angelina:  "what a clear way you have of putting things!"

"It's a mineral, I THINK," said Snooki.

"Of course it is," said the Duchess Angelina, who seemed ready to agree to everything that Snooki said, "there's a large tequila-mine near here.  And the moral of that is – 'The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours.'"

"Oh, I know!" exclaimed Snooki, who had not attended to this last remark, "it's a vegetable.  It doesn't look like one, but it is."

Yes, this is getting rather bizarre.  But what about that most philosophical of meats, the Chicken Cutlet?  Phlegmatic and lugubrious in turn, the Chicken Cutlet introduces Snooki to the basics of cutlet day-school education, waxes eloquently on Lobster Quadrilles, and then finishes things off with the singing of "Chicken Cutlet Night":

The Chicken Cutler sighed deeply, and began, in a voice sometimes choked with sobs, to sing this: –

'Chicken Cutlets, tender and sweet,
waiting for all of us to eat,
gather round and dine tonight _
Chicken Cutlets sound just right!
Chicken Cutlets sound just right!
Chick-ennn Cut-lettts!
Chick-ennn Cut-lettts!

Chicken Cutlets, leave calamari behind,
And lobsters we shall not mind,
So cut the lets and our stomachs shall quicken,
For a sweet taste of cutletted Chicken.
Chick-ennn Cut-lettts!
Chick-ennn Cut-lettts!
Chick-ennn Chick-enn, Cutlets!'

So strange, so weird, so...Jersey Shore and Alice and Wonderland united together as if the two had an all-night bender and discovered to their dismay and delight alike that they had used "the whole chicken" in their debauchery last night.  While this might not be the most appealing to those who seek edification through reading, in the world of asinine mash-ups, Snooki in Wonderland embraces its Inner Stupid wholeheartedly, creating a mash-up that is at times a brilliant satire of Jersey Shore.  For that alone, this e-book demands to be read by guidos and guidettes and those whose IQs are higher than the SPF they apply to their skin.


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