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2. Stephen Fry, "The Stars' Tennis Balls"
el_staplador wrote in queerlit50
Really, there was no way I could not have loved this. Stephen Fry wrote it. And it is a blatant, cheeky, rip-off of one of my favourite books ever: Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. This of course meant that I knew what was going to happen all the way through, but I didn't know how it was going to happen, because Fry has updated the story so beautifully plausibly, to the Britain of the 1980s and then the dotcom boom. How does it happen, you ask? Stupendously.

It is incredibly cheeky - the character equivalent to Mercédès is called Portia, for example, and most of the other character names are anagrams of Dumas'; I really enjoyed spotting them all. And the other little details that Fry preserves but transforms - the Bonapartist plot that becomes an IRA plot, the prison on an island that becomes a mental hospital on an island - are so beautifully done that you really don't have to worry about adaptation decay. I couldn't help reading the one with the other in mind. What would be really interesting would be to compare the page space given to the different plots in the two versions. Fry loses a lot of Dumas (Eugénie/Louise woez!) - which is understandable, since it's about 900 pages shorter - but even within the strands that remain in The Stars' Tennis Balls there is considerable difference in weighting. The 'revenge' part is most noticeably shorter. Stylistically it reminded me of Ben Elton's better work - dark, funny and rather sick.

Highly recommended, even if you don't know The Count of Monte Cristo. If you do, this is not to be missed.

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Sounds absolutely delightful. *puts on must-read list*

Oh yes, it's a lot of fun!

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