There was a time, perhaps ten years ago, when it was all the rage to spoof the bestsellers. It seems to have died a death in recent years. I went through a phase of buying them for light bedtime reading and humour. It was a short phase and because they were of mixed quality, I didn’t tend to stick with the genre. Here is a list of those I have read. I’m assuming it isn’t necessary to explain what is being spoofed in each case:
Bored of the Rings: one of the oldest and best known (published in 1969). Unfortunately, it isn’t that great. Full of toilet humour and childish innuendo it tells the story of Frito as he vaguely follows the story of the source material. Fart jokes aplenty, you may find the occasional giggle in this overrated work. Some of the jokes had pop culture references that are probably meaningless in 2012 (or 2004 when I read it). I guess a lot of the jokes were lost on a British audience having been written by Americans. The opposite is probably true of the next offering.
The Soddit: Another Tolkein parody that loosely follows the source material. There are few laugh out loud moments, one of particular note is when Bingo fudges a debate with Solemn and completely flummoxes the wannabe philosopher with that ancient riddle “red lorry, yellow lorry”. This was written by a Brit with all the pop culture references that entails. Again, amusing and daft but no classic in its own right.
The Matewix: Sorry, but this was awful. It started off well as an amusing parody of the source material. It had so much promise and could have been a superb parody of conspiracy theory in general. Unfortunately it chose to sink further into toilet humour and became surreal at the same time. The end was such a confusing and unfunny mess that reading it seemed a waste of time.
Barry Trotter (Book 1: The Shameless Parody. Book 2: The Unnecessary Sequel. Book 3: The Dead Horse): I only read the first book as I found the second to be unfunny and not a patch on the first and gave up less than a third of the way through. The humour is mildly amusing at best. Barry Trotter is a real wizard on whom the seven book almost biography was based. But Barry got caught up in his own cult and now in his thirties he is still stuck at GCSE level, unable to graduate Hogwash School. Also stuck with him is Lon Measley, his imbecile of a best friend and Ermine Cringer who is now a teacher. I found this quite clever, though generally not that funny. Fans of surrealism will like its metatheatre approach of the trio trying to stop a film being made. But the events are a film about making a film. There is a serious message about pop culture, how its meteoric rise is matched only by its calamitous collapse into obscurity. How today’s “must read/must watch” quickly becomes tomorrow’s “bargain books/is that show still going?” And how saturation leads people to switch to the next fad. Hardly new, but food for thought nonetheless.
The Va Dinci Cod: Arguably the best of the bunch that I have read. Not only is it an amusing parody, there are some side-splitting moments. My favourite scene is the chief protagonist struggling to think of a suitable sin in the confessional, he finally blurts out that he had been “coveting false idols”. As with Barry Trotter above, there is a serious message and I’m surprised to see that the few reviews I read as a refresher didn’t notice it or blatantly ignored it. It is partly a sideswipe at both Dan Brown’s conspiracy theory and those for whom there are unquestionable truths, even if all the evidence points to the contrary. It is the idea that signs can be seen wherever you look for them. It is the concept that prophecies can mean whatever you want them to mean and when you look hard enough and are determined to find something, affirmations for your beliefs – whatever they are – can be found wherever you look.
50 Sheds of Grey: This is the funniest of all those I listed here (review here). With lots of garden parody, it satirises the book and the erotica genre. Most of the jokes are simple innuendo and there are a lot of images so you will read it quite easily in under and hour. A shame really, as more could have been made. You will genuinely laugh out loud.
So that is my list. Any other suggestions?