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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

October 26th, 2006 (10:58 pm)

Oh man.

Anyone remember me posting awhile back about how I bought Lost Laysen, Margaret Mitchell's Other Book, because I'd been so addicted to Gone with the Wind in my youth? I knew it was going to be terrible; she'd written it when she was fifteen, basically as a self-insert fanfic that was part of a very long love letter to her boyfriend. I knew it was going to be racist, because it's Margaret Mitchell. I knew it was going to be funny, because, well, it had to be. I thought I was prepared.

Oh... oh my. So not.

I was going to try to describe it - the insane, mouth-foaming racism, the near-sociopathic detachment of her dogged promotion of lynching as the only acceptable response when any non-white man so much as glances sidewise at a white woman, the deranged plot, which the introduction calls "stunningly complex" and I call "drunkenly incomprehensible"... but I can't. I have recapped it below the cut. If you have no interest in Margaret Mitchell's Other Book, you may be wiser than I. If you do... click the cut, and may God have mercy on your soul.

We are on a ship, sailing, sailing, over the bounding main. Mitchell is not wholly clear on where we are sailing to or from; apparently we're sailing among the Japanese islands, but throughout the book, the ship basically seems to dock randomly when it suits Mitchell's plot purposes, and to sail similarly randomly when that suits her purposes; the whole thing is reminiscent of an aimless, slow-moving pinball in a Japan-patterned pinball machine. So, anyway, we open the book on the ship, with BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILLY DUNCAN tearing shit up.

BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I AM BIG AND BROADSHOULDERED!!!! ::punches ship's mast:: RAAAAAAAAAAAAAA DIRTY DOG JAPS!!!! ::headbutts ship's hull:: RAAAAAAAAAA DEVIL DOG CHINKS!!!! ::rassles ship's rigging:: RAAAAAAAAAAA - um, KANAKAS!!! ::throws himself to floor, beats floor with hands::
KYLIE: Wtf is a Kanaka?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: RAAAAAAAAAAA I hate everyone and all I do with my life day after day is wander around and get into fights, and I am BEATEN and BLOODIED and I have a VERY LARGE CHIP ON MY SHOULDER THAT RENDERS ME UNFIT FOR HUMAN INTERACTION. But you know you love me!
KYLIE: Why do I love you?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Because I'm white.
KYLIE: Oh. Right.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Also because I'm big and broadshouldered and RAAAAAAAAAA I'M GONNA BEAT UP THIS HERE DIRTY DOG DEVIL JAP RAAAAAAAAAAAA ::piles into nearest Japanese man::
KYLIE: ...okay, then. I'm just gonna go over... here... and...
SEXY VAMP MUSIC: ::plays::
MARGARET MITCHELL MARY SUE COURTENAY ROSS: ::makes grand entrance::
COURTENAY ROSS: Well, hi there, boys.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: I... uh. I... huh. You're a... you're a girl!
COURTENAY ROSS: Mmhmm.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Me like girls. I mean, uh, I, uh, I like... girls... and... you're... you're LITTLE!
COURTENAY ROSS: Mmhmm.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Me big. You little! I mean, ah, uh, I, ah, you ARE little. I AM big. Little lady. Little lady!
COURTENAY ROSS: Mmmm.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Little lady.
COURTENAY ROSS: Ummm... you're dripping blood and sweat on my shoes. Do you think...?
HALF-JAPANESE, HALF-SPANISH GUY IN THE CORNER: ::mutters something in Japanese that probably amounts to "Jeez, what a dorkwad"::
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: RAAAAAA RAAAAAA RAAAAAA RAAAAAA YOU IMPUGN THE LADY'S HONOR!!!!! DIRTY HALF-BREED RASSAFRASSIN JAP-SPANIARD YELLOW DEVIL FRIGGAFRAGGIN DOG PIG COW SNAKE ::flailswingbeatstheshitoutta Japanese guy::
JAPANESE-SPANISH GUY: HA HA HA PWN'D! ::switchblades Big Broadshouldered Bill Duncan::
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: ...shit. ::falls::
COURTENAY ROSS: Well! What a nice man. Do we have any tea?

* * *

Later that day. We're on an island. For now. Big Broadshouldered Bill Duncan is lying on the floor, bloody and bruised and temporarily unable to move. This is probably a good thing for any random people, animals, or overly large bugs that happen to wander into his vicinity. Courtenay is sitting by him.

COURTENAY ROSS: 'Morning, sailor.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Little Lady. Little Lady!
COURTENAY ROSS: Oh, you.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Little Lady, why are you here in these Godforsaken islands full of yellow-brown devil dogs? A little lady could get herself hurt.
COURTENAY ROSS: I am a missionary. I'm going to wash dirty little Japs and Chinks and teach 'em not to stick knives in people.
THE LATTER LINE: ::is a direct quote::
KYLIE: Oh, brother.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Look, you better watch out for that dirty devil dog Jap-Spaniard, Little Lady. Many's the time I've had to break up one of his murdering and kidnapping parties.
KYLIE: Oooh, those sound like fun! Can I come to the next one? I'll bring the dip.
COURTENAY ROSS: So why did you beat him up?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN, sullen: Don' like him.
COURTENAY ROSS: No, why did you beat him up?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Dirty rassafrassin yellow half-breed Jap.
COURTENAY ROSS: No, why did you beat him up?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Can't stand the cut of his jib.
COURTENAY ROSS: No, WHY DID YOU BEAT HIM UP?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Oh. He said he was gonna rape you, Little Lady!
COURTENAY ROSS: Ooh! ::eyes sparkling:: How exciting! Just like in the movies, if movies had been invented yet!
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: So I want to give you this knife. Little ladies has got to know how to protect themselfs, in case I can't be there to protect you.
COURTENAY ROSS: Eee! Gimme! Oh this is so great.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: ::admiringly:: Say, you got the heart of a man beating in that there woman's breast, don't you? Also, I love you.
COURTENAY ROSS: Say, do we have any tea?

* * *

Back on the ship. We find out that Courtenay has a boyfriend/lover/suitor/crushdude named Douglas Steele, whom she has been putting off because of her noble plans to wash Japs and Chinks and teach them not to stick knives in people, but whom she will probably marry at some point after all the Japs and Chinks are washed and disarmed. This part is too boring even to snark on.

* * *

COURTENAY ROSS: OH OH BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN HELP HELP HELP!!! ::flings herself at him::
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Whoa, whoa, little lady! What is it?
COURTENAY ROSS: Oh, Big Broadshouldered Bill Duncan, you've got to help me! My boyfriend/lover/suitor/crushdude is trying to murder that Jap-Spaniard!
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Why, what did he do?
COURTENAY ROSS: Nothing.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: No, what did he do?
COURTENAY ROSS: Um, dirty rassafrassin half-breed Jap.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: No, what did he do?
COURTENAY ROSS: My boyfriend can't stand the cut of his jib.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: No, WHAT DID HE DO?
COURTENAY ROSS: Oh, he tried to RAPE ME, BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN! ::sobs convulsively::
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: HE. DID. NOT.
COURTENAY ROSS: Or, well, tried to kiss me!
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: OH. BITCH. IT. IS. ON.
COURTENAY ROSS: Well, actually, I dodged him, so he sorta got a mouthful of air, but -
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Kill. KILL! KILL KILL KILL
COURTENAY ROSS: So you'll stop Douggie from killing him, won't you? I couldn't bear to marry a man with blood on his hands.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Blood. Hands - kill - Jap -
COURTENAY ROSS: Oh, Billy, I knew you'd understand!
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: murder - murder -

* * *

BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN, to Douggie: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
DOUGGIE: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
DOUGGIE: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
DOUGGIE: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
DOUGGIE: NO I GET TO KILL HIM...

* * *

BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN has ceased to argue with Douggie, and is instead sailing blinding through the open seas, trying to find the guy he wants to kill. In a storm.
STORM: ::is bad::
COMPASS: ::is spinny::
STORM: ::is still bad::
BAROMETER: ::is droppy::
STORM: ::remains bad::
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
KYLIE: Dude, the guy you're arguing with isn't even there anymore.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I GET TO KILL HIM.
KYLIE: Did someone short-circuit your brain?
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I ::looks under lid of commode:: GET TO KILL HIM.
KYLIE: Yo! Margaret! Do you have a plot from here?
STORM: ::continues remaining bad::
KYLIE: Because why is Bill looking for the Japanese-Spanish guy on his ship? Why would he be on the ship? I thought the Japanese-Spanish guy was on Laysen, along with Courtenay and all the Japanese kids she is so intent on washing. Why is Bill on the ship?
STORM: ::is rilly rilly bad::
KYLIE: And what happens when he does kill him? You've set it up so your protagonist can't marry your heroine because they're of different social classes, which would work fine if you weren't fifteen and a straight-up romantic, but you are, and obviously you like this murdering twerp way more than you like Douggie over there, who isn't even man enough to continue trying to kill the guy who tried to kiss his girlfriend. How are you planning on dealing with that?
MARGARET MITCHELL: Ummmmmm... VOLCANO!!!!
KYLIE: Hunh?
MARGARET MITCHELL: No, for serious, VOLCANO!!!! A volcano explodes and THE ENTIRE ISLAND OF LAYSEN COLLAPSES INTO THE SEA.
KYLIE: ...rocks fall, everyone dies?
MARGARET MITCHELL: EXACTLY.
KYLIE: Wow.
MARGARET MITCHELL: I know, right? I'm such a genius.

* * *

Later. Big Broadshouldered Bill Duncan is sailing around where the island of Laysen used to be, playing sad violins of melancholy woe.

BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Oh, woe is me. Oh, the girl I met yesterday and loved for almost 36 hours is gone. Oh, I am so sad. Oh, she is dead and under the sea...
CAPTAIN: LOOK! It's a boat!
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Why, so it is! With five people in it!
The boat does indeed have five people in it. They are all dead. They are: Douggie -
CAPTAIN AND BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Aww.
- two random Japanese guys -
CAPTAIN AND BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Meh.
- the Japanese-Spanish guy -
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: NO I WANTED TO KILL HIM!
- and Courtenay Ross.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: WOE.
CAPTAIN, stepping closer to the bodies: Hey, look! These two random Japanese guys died of exposure, which, whatever. And so did Doug, poor guy. But look! The Jap-Spaniard is STABBED to death, and Courtenay, who is holding a knife, is STRANGLED!
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: Bzuh?
CAPTAIN: Clearly Douglas went far out of his way to haul these four poor souls into the boat with him, just moments before Laysen went kaboom -
KYLIE: Wait, why was he rescuing the guy he wanted to kill?
CAPTAIN: - and then they all died of exposure except for the Jap-Spaniard and Courtenay -
KYLIE: They died of exposure off the coast of Hawaii? If the storm was bad enough to kill them, wouldn't it also be bad enough to swamp their boat?
CAPTAIN: - and then the Jap-Spaniard tried to rape Courtenay and then she killed him with the knife you gave her, as he strangled her to death!
KYLIE: Ooookay.
CAPTAIN: Proving that an honorable man will risk his life to protect his natural inferiors, and a yellow-brown half-Jap will always be a yellow-brown half-Jap, and that a true lady values her honor far, far, above her life.
BIG BROADSHOULDERED BILL DUNCAN: And I gave her the knife that made it all possible!
KYLIE: Um, Margaret? This makes no se...
MARGARET MITCHELL: I use sundry curlicues and massive capital letters to pronounce this THE END!
KYLIE: Okay then.
Fin

Comments

Posted by: s t a r l e t (lovefromgirl)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC)

Your sacrifice is noted in the Big Book of Book Reviewers. You will be amply rewarded for your service to humankind. Just think -- you read this book so legions of the curious won't have to!

Posted by: kokopellinelli (kokopellinelli)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)

Precisely my thought. I now to return to my regularily scheduled reading of Robin McKinley books.

Posted by: The Doctor (pisica)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 08:48 am (UTC)
lol

Wow!

Posted by: Angelina Ballerina (greenovalfruit)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 08:56 am (UTC)
Batgirl - EyesWideShut

Fuck a duck, that was great fun. You have such a talent, Kylie. Honestly *grins*

Of course, being the masochist that I am... I do want to read that now.

Maybe... not.

Posted by: Gemma (teacupdiaries)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 10:13 am (UTC)

Here's the plan: we find every copy of this book ever made and insert this, your parody/summary, into them all so that people can instead laugh with you instead of staring at the actual book saying "wtf?".

Ready? Break! *scurries off*

Posted by: ems (ems)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)

MARGARET MITCHELL: Ummmmmm... VOLCANO!!!!
KYLIE: Hunh?
MARGARET MITCHELL: No, for serious, VOLCANO!!!! A volcano explodes and THE ENTIRE ISLAND OF LAYSEN COLLAPSES INTO THE SEA.
KYLIE: ...rocks fall, everyone dies?
MARGARET MITCHELL: EXACTLY.
KYLIE: Wow.


I laughed. Out loud. A lot. Genius.

Posted by: A Delicate Corpse Flower (peregrin8)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 01:35 pm (UTC)

I didn't know they had NaNoWriMo back then.

And that direct quote... is really a direct quote? Because now I'm massively skeeved out & wish I hadn't liked GWTW so much as a teenager.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)

Yeah, it really is a direct quote.

Gone with the Wind is disturbing as hell on an adult reread too, as I found to my cost recently. The number of buried references to blacks as "apes" and "savages" is... severely problematic. I mean, they're referenced as apelike maybe three or four times in 1000+ pages, as being "savage" maybe... more than ten but less than twenty? But, um, that is still roughly twenty references to blacks as apes and savages, which argues that it is Not Accidental. And that's just one thing. Ew.

Posted by: A Delicate Corpse Flower (peregrin8)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 01:52 pm (UTC)
my head hurts

Yeah, i'm totally squicked now.

I did enjoy your synopsis of this one, though!

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 01:48 pm (UTC)

Also, amusingly, she *did* write it in less than a month. Her biographers argue this is evidence of her incredible talent. I argue that it is evidence that she did not intend for that thing to be anything more than a kill-some-time screed to a boyfriend. After all, she wanted all her papers burned upon her death, and it's only because she actually did write this "novella" as correspondence to a boyfriend and the boyfriend kept it that it was available to be published after her death at all.

Posted by: A Delicate Corpse Flower (peregrin8)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 01:52 pm (UTC)
my head hurts

Now I'm all disturbed about her biographers too!

Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
WTF?

Wow.

You know, minus the in-your-face racism, this sounds like something I might have written at fifteen--random storms and volcanoes, improbable romances, Mary Sues... I definitely recall at least one story where a heroine is rescued from an elevator shaft moments before she would have been crushed to death.

In general, though, I believe WTF? is an appropriate critical response to this text.

Posted by: Damian (fanboy_of_zeus)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)

Ditto that, most of the plot devices do bear a striking resemblance to some stuff I was working on in my first creative writing class (some of which I'm still planning on editing and finishing). That was, erm, fifth/sixth grade, though. Not something I'd ever want published as-is. (And then there's the Robinson Crusoe fanfic I had to write for English class - let's just not even go there, ok?)

Posted by: Electric Landlady (electricland)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
ropeswinging cleolinda

*giggles helplessly*

Posted by: Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)
funny ha ha

Ha ha, this is excellent.

Posted by: Rebecca (theniwokesoftly)
Posted at: October 27th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC)

Oh. My. God. I should NOT read your entries while I am at work. No, no.

This was hilarious.

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