A Clockwork Orange is a timeless classic, loved by many and read by many more, often as part of a course reading list. Anthony Burgess’ dystopian novel about teens committing acts of ultra-violence is better known today by the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name. It’s an unforgettable story, and one that allegedly was supposed to have a follow-up.
According to The Guardian, an unpublished manuscript titled The Clockwork Condition was found in the late Burgess’ home. Rather than serve as a proper narrative sequel to the story from the first novel, this book was supposed to explore the moral panic that ensued when the film was released.
With its violent subject matter, A Clockwork Orange gained a lot of criticism when some believed that it served as the inspiration for copycat crimes. This new book would examine the extreme reactions to the source material while offering larger critiques on humanity as a whole. The project was very ambitious at the time, which is most likely why Burgess never completed it.
Still, Andrew Biswell, director of the Burgess Foundation, said that a publishable version of the unfinished manuscript could come in the future. So if you’re hungry for a lost work from one of the greats, he assures, “there is enough material present in the drafts and outlines to give a reasonably clear impression of what this lost Burgess book might have been.”
It’s getting hotter… and so is our burning desire to run off to some beach and leave our real lives behind! Okay—realistically, most of us have some financial and scheduling limitations when it comes to our plans. But that’s no excuse for missing out on a great book. (Spoiler alert: there actually is no good excuse.) So whether your escape is already on the calendar or purely hypothetical, it’s time to pick a vacation destination. More importantly, it’s time to pick the perfect book for your travels.
Gif Via Real Simple
No matter how fantastic, we love when some elements of the books we read are grounded in reality (though, of course, they still need to be fantastically good). It’s why people actually go to Harry Potter World, even though there’s nothing there for them but B.O. and overpriced Cornish Pasties—trust me on that last one. I still recall going to Blackfriars Bridge after finishing Cassandra Clare‘s The Infernal Devicestrilogy and feeling myself overwhelmed with a specific, nerdy glee. It’s all real! I thought to myself. Well, except for the whole Shadowhunters and evil clockwork creatures part. But that last one probably wouldn’t make for a very good vacation.
So, without further ado, here are some incredible reads set in popular travel destinations around the world! Whether you’re going away or you wish you were, these books are sure to take you on the perfect journey.
Bill Bryson‘s hilarious Americana travelogue opens: “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” After the death of his road-trip-loving father and decades spent living abroad in England, Bryson returns to his former home in search of the perfect American small town that may have just been childhood idealism all along. Readers will be transfixed by the hypnotic pull of the highway AND the frequently baffling people Bryson comes across as he hits every single continental state. Deliriously witty and frequently profound, Bryson leaps from calling out people in Mark Twain’s hometown for never actually reading Mark Twain to dropping truths like this one:
I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored. But then it occurred to me that musing is a pointless waste of anyone’s time, and instead I went off to see if I could find a Baby Ruth candy bar, a far more profitable exercise.
We know, we know! Why didn’t we recommend The Great Gatsby, right? Well, because it’s likely you’ve already read it or seen the movie. F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s less frequently read The Beautiful and the Damnedcaptures a marriage falling prey to alcohol and greed, a darkly atmospheric depiction of a city that never sleeps… but might sleep around. Since nightlife and ruinous ambition appear to be the core motifs of NYC, this is the perfect book to throw in your suitcase. Besides, ‘the beautiful and the damned’ is an excellent caption for you stumbling out of some club with someone who is doomed not to live up to your expectations. Listen, the 1920s are almost upon us, so if you were looking for the right time to drink too much and be confused about your love life… your time is coming.
Let’s get one thing straight—this book isn’t. If you want to go be gay and edgy in Europe (which I generally do), read this book before settling down for a relaxing disco nap to wake up at midnight to head to the club. One of the earliest books to feature lesbian characters, this intense gothic novel is hopefully just as melodramatic as your going out eye-shadow. The groundbreaking novel features characters outside the gender binary well before the time when this was commonplace—since it’s still not commonplace, emphasis on the well before. If you’re interested in the dark and seedy (as I generally also am) read this one before your Parisian fling, your intoxicated misadventures in a repurposed Berlin warehouse, your late-night wandering through Vienna’s former red-light district. Looking for grungy debauchery in interwar Europe? Right here.
Listen, you COULD watch the HBO adaptation… but that’s not gonna fit in your suitcase, and you’ve got a long plane ride ahead of you. This modern masterpiece is a rich story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor yet colorful neighborhood. The bildungsroman depicts the ways in which their fates diverge and how their lives parallel the turmoil of their country. A deeply immersive series, The Neapolitan Quartet addresses the transformation of both the girls and the country they live in with nuance and style. This heady dose cultural context will only improve your Italy trip, and it’s guaranteed to offset the displeasure of airplane food.
It would be kind of an understatement to call this novel sensual… so we’ll go out on a limb and call it full-on sexual. Full-on actually IS a more accurate description, given that there’s sex on horseback and, uh, a meal prepared with a ‘special’ ingredient. But this isn’t some pornographic romp across Mexico (even if that may be what your Spring Break is destined to become). Believe it or not, this international bestseller (and inspiration for a feature film) is an expansive tale of family life and forbidden love that chronicles the unlikely history of an all-female family in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Each chapter opens with a unique recipe to give the story a sense of place within one family’s legacy… a legacy defined frequently by bad luck and surprising turns of fate.
A book about a twenty-something living under questionable conditions, doing odd jobs, and not so much going broke as charging headlong into it? Relatable. If you’re on the younger side, chances are that even if you are traveling, you aren’t on your way to five-star accommodations. You might’ve worked some double shifts and second jobs to get on that plane, or maybe you’re hustling under the table to afford an extension on that trip. George Orwell feels you: he describes an eighteen-hour workday at a Parisian restaurant and sleeping on a bench to avoid paying rent (something that we do hope will not feature in your vacation). But it’s always a relief to recall that many among the literary greats got their start down in the gutter—especially if that’s where you are right now.
Eddy L. Harris, a black American travel writer, goes on a stunning search for his identity as he backpacks across the continent his ancestors called home. Or, not exactly his identity. He explains:
Because my skin is black you will say I traveled Africa to find the roots of my race. I did not—unless that race is the human race, for except in the color of my skin, I am not African. If I didn’t know it then, I know it now. I am a product of the culture that raised me. And yet Africa was suddenly like a magnet drawing me close, important in ways that I cannot explain, rising in my subconscious and inviting me.
This is not another voyeuristic analysis of a white author whose intent is to lambast the reader with relentless depictions of poverty. There are depictions of poverty, but as stricken as Harris is by the corruption and violence he encounters, he remains always enthralled by the beauty of the continent.
After his sister’s suicide, Andrew X. Pham bikes across Vietnam in search of the family he’s lost and the homeland he left behind. The memoir juxtaposes his travels with the war-torn memories of his childhood, his illegal journey in an open boat and the insincere conversion to Christianity in his new American home. This is more than a journey, although it’s certainly that as well—it’s an attempt to process a difficult past. The conflict between his new land and his native land, embodied in memories of the war, strikingly mirrors the conflict of his dual identity. Catfish and Mandalaoffers a unique look into Vietnam’s language, culture, geography, and history that’s both enormously meaningful and small enough to cram in that suitcase!
What’s the best thing to do at the beach? Swim? Tan? Wrong—it’s obviously to get into unsupervised teen shenanigans. Wealthy brothers Benji and Reggie Cooper are out of prep school for the summer and at their parents’ beach house… which is pretty much the only role their parents will play in their summer of love, hate, and bad new Coca Cola flavors. At school, Benji made the mistake of revealing his passion for horror movies and Dungeons & Dragons. But, if he can master all the right handshakes, he could spend summer as the coolest kid in the Hamptons. Colson Whitehead‘s Sag Harboris a bildungsroman for the African-American elite, for the “black boys with beach houses.” Plus, it’s loaded with 80s nostalgia.
Being an accomplished novelist traveling the world sounds like anyone’s dream—but Arthur Less didn’t dream it would happen like this. On the eve of his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Less has a mid-life (okay, probably three-quarter-life) crisis. The response to his writing has been tepid. He is, he believes, “the first homosexual ever to grow old… that is, at least, how he feels at times like these.” And he is. Growing old, that is. Approaching his fiftieth birthday and the precipice of literary obscurity, Less accepts an invitation to an insignificant literary award ceremony that will take him around the world and deeper into the lyrical reflection of his own self-improvement. Let it be known that I read this novel on an airplane to another continent, and I can promise a rewarding experience. Warm-hearted and deeply human, this story is bursting with life and an obvious love of language. To quote the author, “just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”
All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via RealSimple.
On April 24th, 1967, The Outsiders was published as a cheap, drugstore paperback, in a time before the YA fiction market even existed.
Author S.E. Hinton started writing her famous book at just fifteen—and, amazingly enough, this wasn’t even the first book she wrote! She reveals in an interview for Entertainment Weekly that in middle school she wrote a book about The Civil War, commenting that she has “no idea what [she] thought [she] knew about the Civil War.”
The premise of The Outsiders, though, was something she knew about from her experiences with a divided community that closely paralleled the deep cultural division between the “Socs” and the “Greasers.”
She relates, for instance, that the opening scene of the book—when Ponyboy is jumped while he walks home alone from the movies—was inspired by one of her friends getting jumped in real life. And yes, she says, her friends were really called “Greasers!”
IMAGE VIA IMGUR
Later in the interview, she reveals:
“I get so many letters from people saying, “You changed my life.” That scares me. I love getting letters saying, “I never liked to read, but I read your book, and now I’m going on to read other books.” But the “You changed my life” stuff is scary, because who am I to change anybody’s life? But I’ve learned to deal with it by thinking, The Outsiders was meant to be written, and I got chosen to write it. The rest of ’em, I just wrote, but The Outsiders was supposed to be there.”
Even today, during a time when the YA fiction market is thriving, this book still feels different from a lot of other books for young readers. In most fiction you read in middle school, like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, there’s a clear “bad guy” and a “good guy.” I think The Outsiders still feels original because it doesn’t pretend that good and evil are such distinct categories—the real villain in The Outsiders is the socioeconomic disparity that divides the Socs and the Greasers in the first place. Hinton does a thorough job of showing the reality of both sides, like when Cherry Valance says, “Maybe the two different worlds we live in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”
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The Outsiders gained further staying power and widespread fame when it was adapted into an 1983 film adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring celebrities like Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise. Mandi Bierly writes for HBO that the
“performances can be endearingly green and melodramatic at times; given the actors’ ages, the fast-moving plot, and the heightened teen emotions (“Let’s do it for Johnny, man! We’ll do it for Johnny!”), it’s to be expected. But there are also moments that ring so true, you feel them scarring your heart the way only teen dramas can: ‘I used to talk about killing myself all the time. Man, I don’t want to die now. It ain’t long enough. Sixteen years ain’t gonna be long enough.'”
Whether in the form of a book or a movie, the message of The Outsiders clearly resonates with teens. Hopefully, it will continue to remain popular reading for young readers for decades to come!
Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express made over $300 million when it released in 2017. Following this success, 20th Century Fox was more that ready to schedule a sequel based on Death on the Nile, another Christie novel featuring the same detective from the first film, Hercule Poirot (who was also played by Branagh). And a big star has just joined the new film.
The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Letitia Wright, who broke out into the mainstream as Shuri in Marvel’s Black Panther, has joined the cast. She will star alongside Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer as well as the Branagh reprising his role as Hercule.
The novel takes place in Egypt along the Nile River and follows Hercule Poirot as he tries to solve the murder of an heiress aboard a steamer traveling down the river. Wright will play Rosalie Otterbourne, a lead suspect in the case. Gadot will play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, the heiress at the center of the murder. It is unclear what role Hammer will play.
Shooting for the film will commence in September, with an October 2020 release date planned.
Celebrity hair collectors are in mourning today; leather jacket-clad professors, archeologists, and overzealous superfans bow their heads. Yet another treasure has been taken off the strand search list—none other than the long-sought-after braided lock of English novelist and poet, Charlotte Brontë. This news comes via an episode of Antiques Roadshow where a woman appeared on the show with a ring inscribed with the words “C. Brontë” on it (along with the date the writer died).
The show’s appraiser, Geoffrey Munn spoke with a woman who found the ring in her late father in law’s attic hidden inside a mysterious box. Clearly, the man was harboring something valuable—quest worthy. One can only imagine the adventure he experienced in search of hidden treasure. After rummaging through the attic and besting its Indiana Jones-esque booby traps, the unidentified woman found the key. Upon opening a hinge on the side of Brontë’s ring the referenced treasure was found.
“Yess,” Munn whispers as she describes the hair, clearly awed. “Yes!”
Munn found no reason to question its credibility given the fact that hair collecting was an even more acceptable tradition back in the day (19th century).
“There was a sort of terror of not being able to remember the face and the character of people who had died, and so this is part of a tradition of making a true souvenir, an incorruptible fragment of the person that has died and to wear it. It wasn’t uncommon.”
The eldest of the Brontë sisters (all writers of the highest standard), Charlotte is best known for classic novels like Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette. Tragically, Charlotte never made it past the age of forty—she died in 1855. Although one never expects to have their hair or any other accessories to be sold centuries after they pass; the good fortune surrounding this discovery is a pleasant reminder that no one’s story is ever really over.
Geoffrey Munn put the ring at £20,000, or around $26,000. Hmm, I thought the going rate for Brontë hair was more…