Quirk Books, publisher of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, has announced another foray into the field of classic literature-classic horror mashups. The victim? Modernist titan James Joyce. In September Quirk will release A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manticore.
According to Quirk’s fall catalog, the book will follow the life of a brilliant, passionate young Irishman named Stephen Dedalus as he struggles with the constraints of the Catholic church, the self-destructive political inertia of his homeland, and the fact that he has the body of a red lion, the wings of a bat and the barbed tail of a scorpion. Which shoots quills or something.
As editor Jason Rekulak points out, there is a rhyme if not a reason to the mashing-up of great literature with classic monsters. Just as Austen’s novel is about proper ladies avoiding uncomfortable truths—like money, and zombies—the patched-together body of the manticore becomes a metaphor for a nation divided against itself. For a lion-bodied, bat-winged, barb-tailed being in Ireland at the turn of the 20th Century, life is a constant struggle to reconcile irreconcilable parts of himself. The only alternative to self-imposed exile may be to turn his barb-slash-quills on himself.
Will Dedalus find his voice? Or must he leave the land of his birth in order to become the artist he is destined to be? Can a thing with a human head, wings and scorpion-tail on a lion body really be an A-list monster like a zombies and vampires? Or is it just too weird? Is it barbs or quills? And could such a creature — as Dedalus does in the original — have sex with a prostitute without biting, clawing or stinging (or quilling) her to death? Quirk promises answers to those questions and more.
And more literary adaptations are on the way: Lady Splatterly’s Lover, a horror title based on Lawrence’s erotic masterpiece, is slated for the spring, followed by a mash-up that combines Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man with the story of a mad scientist whose experiments go terribly awry.
It’s called Invisible Man.