A strange thing happened to me this week. I was nearly mowed down by a car racing toward a bookstore.
Normally, I wouldn’t mind this, since at least the person was in a hurry to read, instead of getting home in time to watch “The Simpsons.” Then I noticed other cars also speeding toward the parking lot, and people — mostly women — slamming their doors and racing into the store.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Gone With The Wind,” I was told.
Ah yes. Gone With The Wind. The sequel, entitled “Scarlett,” in which Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler come back to life, do some soul searching, find their own space, and Scarlett winds up standing on a hill in Ireland while — and I quote from the book here — “something ancient and pagan stirred deep within her, and her barely tamed wildness surged hotly through her blood.”
Hmmm. I have stood on many hills in my life, some of them even in Ireland. I have never felt anything like that. Mostly I felt the need to watch for sheep droppings. But hey. I’ve never written a sequel to a classic.
Not that I won’t get the chance. “Scarlett,” in its first week, already has a million copies in print, and despite reviews that rank it, on a literary scale, just behind “Horton Hears a Who,” the book is flying out the door.
Which means, of course, there will be more sequels. In fact, rumor has it that the following follow-ups are already in progress:
* “Dorothy.” The sequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” in which Dorothy loosens her pigtail and feels something ancient and pagan stir within her blood. She immediately returns to Kansas and stands on a hill.
* “For Pete’s Sake.” The sequel to Peter Pan, in which Peter — still wearing the green tights — finds a nice job in a Greenwich Village shoe store. Tinkerbell, meanwhile, feels something ancient and pagan stir within her and realizes she ought to lay off the booze before she flies.
* “Moby!” The sequel to “Moby Dick,” in which the whale feels something ancient and pagan stir within him, and realizes he has eaten Captain Ahab again.
* “Romeo in Joliet,” in which the Shakespearean lovers are sent to the federal penitentiary in Illinois and feel something ancient and pagan stir within them — probably lunch.
* “Whale Burgers.” The sequel to “The Old Man and The Sea,” in which the Old Man feels something ancient stir within him and realizes it’s boredom, since he’s wasting time fishing when a gun would work much quicker. An excerpt, in the Hemingway style:
He shot the fish. Now it was dead. “Let’s cut it,” he said. “Yes,” he said. “And make cold sandwiches,” he said. “Yes,” he said. “I’ll have mine with tartar sauce,” he said. “Me, too,” he said.
* “Walden in the Woods.” The sequel to Thoreau’s book, in which Walden Pond is developed into an attractive condo complex, with two-bedroom units starting at $79,900.
* “Twistin.” The sequel to “Oliver Twist,” in which Oliver realizes his true destiny when he feels something ancient and pagan stir inside him, and he changes his name to Chubby Checker.
* “Hamlet II” The sequel to “Hamlet,” in which the Prince of Denmark returns as a Sylvester Stallone film buff, and tries to think and sound just like his hero.
“To be, or what? That is the question
“Whether is nobler, or Conrad Dobler
“Yo, Adrian. Adrienne!”
* “Blanche.” The sequel to “A Streetcar Named Desire,” in which Blanche Dubois
becomes a trucker who refuses to pick up hitchhikers. “But we have always relied on the kindness of strangers,” the hitchhikers plead. “Get a job,” says Blanche.
* “Canterbury Short Stories.” The sequel to “The Canterbury Tales,” in which not a single word is changed, since none of us understood the first one.
* “Hester.” The sequel to “The Scarlet Letter,” in which Hester Prynne, the mother of eight, feels something ancient and pagan stir inside and says: “Oh God, not again.”
* “Gully! Gully!” The sequel to “Gulliver’s Travels,” in which Gulliver, representing the nation of Lilliput, goes to the 1992 Olympics and single-handedly beats the U.S./NBA basketball team.
* “Robin.” The sequel to “Robin Hood,” in which the Prince of Thieves, looking very much like Kevin Costner, travels to Ireland and sees Scarlett O’Hara standing on a hill, her barely tamed wildness surging hotly through her blood.
“What an idiot,” Robin figures, and rides right past her, showing more sense than most of the book buyers in America.