Reading An Abridged Book Is Cheating?
The problem with long books is that they take a long time to read. Most people, if given a choice, would rather read a short novel than a long one. At least, that’s what I think. I’ve never seen a stat for it, but I bet it’s true. It’s not necessarily a matter of laziness. With so much other stuff to do, it’s kind of inconvenient to read a book that’s too long, even if you like reading long books.
A few days ago I found an old copy of an abridged Les Miserables that I had read in junior high. This reminded me that even before the internet and cable television, I had other things to do besides reading long classics. Now that I think about it though, I didn’t have all that much to do, so I was probably just being lazy.
Either way, when a friend of mine saw that I had an abridged version of Les Miserables, he told me I was cheating. I thought, abridged is cheating? Maybe for a book written in English. Les Miserables was originally in French, so maybe the abridgment was really just a brief translation. I appreciate the brief translation. I’d read a brief translation of War and Peace or Crime and Punishment or Great Expectations.
I’m not sure what was left out of the abridged Les Miserables. The short version matched fairly well with the Classics Illustrated comic book. Maybe I should watch one of the movies to see what the abridged novel left out. I don’t remember any songs in the abridged version. Maybe that was it.
It’s not just the classics that need to be shortened. Even modern authors can be long-winded. George R R Martin has taken six books so far to tell his tale A Song of Ice and Fire. It was originally supposed to be a trilogy, and now it’s going to take seven or eight books (if he finishes at all). Literary times have changed. When I was a kid, an author would start to write a novel and then turn it into a long-winded trilogy. Nowadays, authors set out to write a trilogy and end up with seven books instead.
I might sometimes complain about James Patterson, but at least his books (the ones he writes AND the ones he doesn’t write) are short.
I have a tough time reading long books now that I have a family to raise, a wife whom I enjoy spending time with, a full-time job, and cable television and the internet. 500-page books or a seven-book series is a lot of time to demand from readers. In fact, I consider it downright inconsiderate for an author to write a book that’s more than 500 pages. Mario Puzo kept The Godfather to under 500 pages. JRR Tolkien kept The Lord of the Rings to three books. If they could do it, so should other authors with less awesome stories to tell.
I’d love to read an abridged version of A Song of Ice and Fire. Maybe that’s why the HBO series Game of Thrones is so popular. It takes a lot less time to watch five seasons of the TV show than it does to read the books. At least for me, it does.
Maybe I’m a hypocrite for complaining about long-winded authors. A couple years ago, I wrote a blog serial called “The Literary Girlfriend.” It was supposed to be about 15 episodes, and I thought I’d be done within a few months. Instead, it took over a year and 60 episodes. I laugh to myself when I think about it; I wrote a 60-episode romantic comedy. I bet even James Patterson hasn’t done that.
The problem with blog serials is that once they’re done and you’ve written a couple other blog posts, the blog serial disappears into blog oblivion. I’d call it “blogblivion (with a silent ‘g’),” but I don’t believe in creating new words by combining two existing words.
At the same time, I understand why blog serials disappear. Who wants to read a 60-episode blog serial? Readers can barely find time to read actual books by authors who’ve gotten published by real publishing companies. 60 episodes is a commitment, even if it’s a free commitment.
To help out, I’ve posted an abridged version of “The Literary Girlfriend.” I haven’t shortened any of the episodes. I’ve simply picked five episodes where you can for the most part tell what’s going on. And if you read only these five episodes (or fewer), I don’t consider it cheating.
“The Literary Girlfriend: The Abridged Version”
The Literary Girlfriend: Origin Story : This wasn’t the first episode, and she wasn’t a superhero, but it’s still not a bad place to start.
The Literary Girlfriend: Crazy Stuff : Of course, every couple has issues (but probably not THIS problem).
The Literary Girlfriend: A Conversation Between Two Women That Has Nothing To Do With Men Or Relationships : I received a little bit of criticism for this episode, but it’s important for a reason that has nothing to do with the title.
The Literary Girlfriend: Marriage Material : Mention the word “marriage,” and all chaos breaks loose.
The Literary Girlfriend: The Penultimate Episode : Final episodes are almost always disappointing. The high point is usually the next-to-last episode.
What do you think? What novel would you like to be abridged? Is reading an abridged novel a form of cheating? What book series would you like to see abridged? What blog post of yours would you like to pull out from blogblivion?
What’s better than a 60-episode romantic comedy blog serial? An ebook sequel called Nice Things!