About the Series
Clementine Classics, a new series from Black Balloon Publishing, gives classic works of literature the contemporary annotations they deserve. Obsessed, possessed, and thoroughly distressed by the originals, today's writers riff, rant, praise, and flay these old books, giving them new life. The series' beautifully designed e-books are both an act of sincere literary criticism and a new, composite form of humor writing.
The first book in the series, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, is annotated by beloved (and highly caustic) critic, Clementine the Hedgehog—the series' namesake and its guiding spirit.
About Clementine Classics: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
Sometimes reading the classics is a chore, but not so with the snarky annotations by Clementine the Hedgehog. Having made her debut as a weekly book reviewer of note on Tumblr in 2012, Clem now takes on Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. On each page, she inserts her keen insights, dark sense of humor, and cut-the-crap commentary, crafting a 21st-century literary criticism for distraction addicts everywhere.
Clementine Classics: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser will be produced in two formats: a standard reflowable edition for e-readers, and a custom iBooks edition for the iPad. Both formats feature an innovative display layout that takes full advantage of the digital medium and allows Clementine's annotations to live alongside Dreiser's original text.
Praise and Press for Clementine
Clementine was born on July 2011 to an unknown breeder in New Jersey. She made her Internet debut on September 2012, and since then, her Tumblr book review series has gained acclaim from authors like Emma Straub, Ned Vizzini, and Jami Attenberg. In her spare time, Clementine sleeps, eats, and exercises on her scurry wheel.
Stay tuned—events will be announced soon.
Read an Excerpt:
I do not like Victorian novels. In fact, I am strictly a contemporary fiction ‘hog. I'm a sucker for sparse writing and constant plot development, two things that just don't seem to happen in old timey books.
But as I near middle age (I'm almost two fucking years old—how did that happen?) I feel like I should be embracing new things, starting with the books I read. I thumbed through some of the classics, and God, was that a mistake. Austen? Grow a fucking pair. Hardy? Yawn. Dickens? More like dickhead. I finally settled on Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie because it seemed like a story that could take place today, preferably in a sitcom: starry-eyed waif moves to the big city and falls under the influence of rich, older men. I'm somewhat of a cultural anthropologist living amongst you humans, and the ideals romanticized in this book—materialism, fame, true love, social standing, happiness—would make any hedgehog guffaw. Not surprisingly, I found myself astounded by Victorian culture and couldn't help but compare it to the hedgehog world. As a species, we may defecate in public and be prone to mites, but goddamn, are we more socially advanced. Sister Carrie is a clusterfuck of repressed desires, bougie decadence, casual racism, and patriarchal tyranny. That shit just wouldn't fly within the hedgehog community. We've simply evolved past that, and you humans are practically barbaric in comparison.
And the writing. I consider myself an educated rodent—hell, I can quote Foster Wallace in my sleep—so when I come across paragraphs clogged with sentences that are so fucking flowery they give me dander allergies, of course I'm going to lose my shit. Theodore Dreiser wasn't exactly respected among his peers for his writing prowess. In fact, a renowned British publisher once claimed his prose had a "slovenly, turgid style." And that's being generous. Some of his paragraphs could put a tweaking meth head to sleep. A fun drinking game: down a shot every time Dreiser uses the word "halcyon."
Sister Carrie came out around the same time as acclaimed English novels like Middlemarch, Great Expectations, and Heart of Darkness. Dreiser wanted to write the next great American novel, and his desperation pervades the book like an unsavory pit stain. The novel may center on a simple girl from the Midwest, but he tries to infuse every fiber of the story with seemingly deep, transcendent wisdom. That shit doesn't work when your heroine is the Victorian equivalent of a Kardashian.
You're probably wondering why I even bothered finishing the damn thing. True, the writing made my quills itch, but the story itself was fucking compelling. Who doesn't love a good underdog? The pacing could've used some speeding up, but I couldn't deny that I was rooting for Sister Carrie to channel her inner bitch and take charge. I definitely suffered from a couple of rage blackouts while reading, but what can I say? I get emotionally invested in books, and I'll throw Dreiser a bone for getting me sucked into this trainwreck.
How to Buy
The first volume in the Clementine Classics series, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser , is available only for your e-reader. Buy the iPad edition in the iBookstore, or order for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iPhone at the links below!