Books

88 Lines about 44 Books

23 April 2016

Emma Michelle

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In honour of World Book Day, Emma Michelle writes an ode to 44 books that changed the world. For upmost enjoyment, read the ode aloud to the tune of the new wave classic ‘88 Lines About 44 Women‘ by The Nails.

Odysseus was a Greek hero

He held out ‘til the bitter end
Romeo was a different type
He died (and so did Juliet)
Don Quixote loved adventure
He went mad for chivalry
I liked Elizabeth
But Pride and Prejudice wasn’t for me

Kate Bush had a special way
Of turning Heathcliff into a song
Moby Dick (Melville’s white whale)
Tormented Ahab far too long
Frankenstein had a nameless monster
A fact erased from memory
Jane Eyre taught us: Check the attic!
Or else life will be misery

The Woman in White is the one about
Swapping your wife with a mental patient
Pip was sane, and soon to be
A gentleman of Great Expectations
Alice fell down the rabbit hole
Then woke up like it was all a dream,
Crime & Punishment’s view was this:
Murder’s fine, if Rodion deems

Little Women’s another book
That left its mark upon the map
Middlemarch tied readers up
(And left Dorothea without a scrap)
Anna Karenina warned us of
The dangers of adultery
Young Huck Finn, the boy hero
Helped Jim escape from slavery

Dorian Gray was beautiful
He sold his soul for agelessness,
The War of the Worlds never was
Any more than war between man and ants
Marlow journeyed to the heart
of darkness with a guy named Kurtz,
Ulysses was a single day
That somehow took Joyce 265,000 words

Mrs Dalloway had a house in London
She’d buy the flowers herself,
Gatsby’s parties were legendary
All thrown for Daisy (no one else)
The Sun Also Rises was about
A bunch of jealous expat yuppies,
Remember Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men?
The one with Lennie (he killed a puppy)

Oh no, not Lennie….

Brave New World was pretty grim
A dystopia gone out of hand,
Like The Stranger’s Meursault on a beach
Staring at the sea, staring at the sand,
Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Showed another future, grim and stony,
Big Brother? The Ministry of Truth?
Holden Caulfield would think they’re phony

Lord of the Flies was tough on boys
Who spoke without holding the conch,
Unlike Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
(Where Merry and Pippin never shut up)
On The Road still strikes home for
Generations of indulged white men,
“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird!”
Said Atticus at Tom’s defence

The brave men of the 256th
Try dodging death in Catch-22,
Remember: Don’t attack Nurse Ratched
Or a lobotomy’s awaiting you,
Esther from The Bell Jar feared
Her depression could never be controlled,
Meanwhile, Humbert from Lolita
Had no problem chasing 12-year-olds

Midnight’s Children won the Booker
And then the Booker of Bookers too,
The Colour Purple got the Pulitzer Prize
And Oprah Winfrey’s film debut,
Beloved’s ghost wreaked havoc
Haunting Denver and her mum Sethe,
Matilda was much more my style
‘Cause she read books just like all these

A Game of Thrones excited nerds
Then all the world through HBO,
Harry Potter taught us
If you want something, yell “Accio!”
David Lurie seduced a student
Then left Cape Town in Disgrace,
Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin
Ends the list within a list.