I picked up a light and amusing read the other day, which was perfect for waiting around in the dentist's antechamber: Sense and Nonsensibility: Lampoons of Learning and Literature, by Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004). The two Amherst College professors offer up plenty of silly academic pieces, seemingly fluffy, but erudite as hell. The section on literary mergers wherein classic novels are shaken and stirred, was very funny. Their descriptions of such amalgamated titles as Huckleberry Faust, Moby Shtick, To the White House, The Red and the African-American, As I Lay Frying, were laugh-out-loud funny. Here's their synopsis of The Old Man and the Flea:
Hemingway's classic, as seen through a mirror Kafkaesquely. We find the protagonist wrestling, now not with a marlin but-yet more symbolically still-with a flea. The tension of the narrative and the grandeur of its hero are in no way dimmed, yet the subtle shift creates a novella with a distinctly absurdist, and so European, flavor.
Other literary pieces include psychological diagnoses of various classic lit heroes, a sportscaster's narrative of the Poetry Olympiad, a more aggressive awarding of literary prizes (subcategories under Best Female Protagonist include: Survived but Chastened, Survived and Resplendent, and Doomed), and eBay auction listings for some literary treasures. Recommended for stop-and-go reading opportunities.