Serena J. Cavanaugh :: Blog

November 22, 2009

Literary Flings & Affairs Episode 4

Filed under: Cultural Rants, Literature — Tags: , , , , — serena @ 6:55 pm

The Rebound/ Spin Off 

Andrew  Jones  of  Penn  St  and   Mike  Tisdale  and  Calvin  Brock  of  Illinois   contest   a  rebound  during  the  game.   picture  appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/ Darrell   Hoemann  .....................

We read a book that sweeps us off our feet and into another world that we never want to leave. But it doesn’t leave us a choice. The End happens, just like that.


We feel empty, hollow, and worst of all needy. Then the Spin Off comes along, promising us everything we got from that special novel – we get to see Mr. Darcy again! Or the DeWinters! The idea alone gets our hearts all a-flutter.


But, let’s face it – a Spin Off is nothing but a classic rebound.


When those giddy rebound-induced feelings subside, which is always long before the book’s end, we all realize that the infatuation was just leftover longing for that other, better novel. With a sinking, sick feeling, we know just how awful it was compared to the original. How could we have wasted our time on such an example of inferiority?


This is not to say that rebounds cannot be therapeutic. Like when enough time has passed since the original was last closed. Or if you know that what you are doing is just a distraction and nothing real. It had been a long decade since I had read Pride & Prejudice before I picked up The Other Mr. Darcy – as if there could be such a thing. But it was an airplane read and it served its purpose, which was to get my mind off the possibility of crashing into the Pacific Ocean. I still tossed it against the hotel wall and left it there without an ounce of dignity.


And that’s what a classic rebound deserves.


But what happens when you get carried away by the Spin Off, like I did with Gone with the Wind’s long awaited, hyped-up Scarlet? The first indication of doom, was the fact that I never really got over Gone with the Wind. Rhett’s crooked smile and sardonic brows were regulars in my fantasies. I had tried to close the giant book for good, but the pain was too great. In no time, I was wrapped up in its pages, lost in its magic, knowing all the while that it would only end again. Then, Scarlet hit the shelves. At last. Now I could lose myself with the same blind passion, or so I thought. 


When I saw the immensity of it, I literally quivered with anticipation. It was going to be exactly like the first, an epic to get lost in… forever.


Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover, and everyone knows not to judge a man by his size, but no one ever told me not to judge a book by its size. So it’s hugeness had me hooked.


I sunk into the pages ready to be utterly sated. There was my familiar Scarlet O’Hara… only it wasn’t her. There was Ashley… but not really. And when Rhett suddenly was casted as his mother’s little darling instead of the black sheep, I felt that odd sensation of disgust that one gets when they unmask an imposter. Scarlet is the reason I absolutely shunned Rhett Butlers People,  despite it’s good reviews. Fool me once…


But I still foolishly read Mrs. DeWinter.  Sure, it didn’t dare mess with the characters the way Scarlet had. Instead, it felt like a simple repeat – a bad copy.  The day I came across a zombie version of Pride and Prejudice, I said, “No thank you. It’s best that I spend some time alone and allow my memory of Pride & Prejudice the respect it deserves.”


Then there’s that Spin Off that truly taps into another part of your heart that the original didn’t touch, and starts a whole new love affair based on its own uniqueness, when it doesn’t try to change what you already fell in love with, when it builds on rather than copies. Some superb examples are The Wide Sargasso Sea, a Jane Eyre Spin Off about the mysterious and underrepresented wife in the attic, Bertha Lockwood (maybe it worked soley because I never really loved Jane Eyre…) and The Jane Austin Book Club, about various modern characters who have a passion for ol’ Jane and her stories (something I can relate to).


However, these successes are so few and far between, that it’s much simpler to just go back to the one you love. If you can’t let go, why fight it? Why rely on a rebound when the original will take you back? Again and again. Reread and reread again.


What I’m Reading Now


Nothing but my second novel, Ships at a Distance, Like Wine Through Water or Hell Bent on Fate, all working titles. Still haven’t chosen one and still not done editing. Ugh! 


  1. Why don’t you check out “The Life of Pie” or maybe “Blindness” or another Saramago book. He writes some good stuff. Although Life of Pie isn’t his. I also loved Bel Canto. That was a great book too. More up my ally though. Rebels, Stockholm syndrome, what else could a guy ask for? Life of Pie. I think you’d like that one.

    Comment by Rob Shreve — November 23, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  2. Why don’t you check out “The Life of Pi” or maybe “Blindness” or another Saramago book. He writes some good stuff. Although Life of Pie isn’t his. I also loved Bel Canto. That was a great book too. More up my ally though. Rebels, Stockholm syndrome, what else could a guy ask for? Life of Pi, I think you’d like that one.

    Comment by Rob Shreve — November 23, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  3. Pi, I meant Pi. :-)

    Comment by Rob Shreve — November 23, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

  4. Rob… I get that. I heard about that book and it’s on my list. I just don’t have the time these days. I’m constantly reading my own book and making the edits and, of course, there’s work, work, work. But when things calm down, I’ll absolutely read The Life of PI… PI — not Pie — PI. :)

    Comment by Serena — November 24, 2009 @ 8:52 am

  5. I don’t know, I think a book about A Life of Pie could be pretty good. Probably would make me hungry, but sometimes that’s a good thing. :)
    Blindness was fantastic. The sequel… I read the first five pages, rolled my eyes, and was quite happy to let the characters wander off on their own. On the same topic, though, did you know that they’ve released the sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series? I just backed away from the bookshelf slowly without making eye contact.

    Comment by Rachel — December 6, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  6. Rachel — it’s the best thing to do. Just avoid eye contact and keep going. Who needs it? Go back to the first one and reread it. It’s what you really love anyway!

    Comment by Serena — December 6, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

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