Horatio Alger Metafiction

By Jason Boog Comment

joesluck.jpgTomorrow we will unveil the first edition of our World’s Longest Literary Remix Contest eBook–an entire novel re-written by GalleyCat Reviews readers. Last month, a crew of brave readers rewrote one page of Horatio Alger‘s Joe’s Luck: Always Wide Awake (cover pictured) for fun and prizes.

To help you get prepared, check out author David Rapp’s metafictional remix of one Alger page–read his innovative entry below. While the eBook will be unveiled tomorrow, we will announce the winners of the remix contest next week. In case you have forgotten, our prizes include:

1-Scribd.com and Blurb.com are donating 10 printed copies of the completely remixed novel, using the company’s new print-on-demand service.

2- The remixing experts at Quirk Books will give one lucky winner an assortment of Quirk Classics prize, a package worth over $100.

3-The multimedia literary journal Electric Literature will donate “Electric Literature: Year One”–a complete set of the first four issues of the journal–a $40 value.

In this emergency, Major Norton, a farmer and capitalist, offered to provide Joe with board and clothes and three months’ schooling in the year in return for his services.

On his day off, Joe visited a bookseller on Second Avenue. He wanted to improve himself. There was a new salesgirl at the check-out desk. She was quite young, and was absorbed in an old volume as Joe approached. The nameplate on the desk identified her as “Miss Smith.” “May I help you?” she said, looking up. The lamplight shone off her spectacles.

“Yes, I’m–” Joe said. “I’m looking for a book by an author named Horatio Alger.”

“I’m afraid we don’t carry books by the late Mister Alger,” she said.

“What?” Joe said. “Why not?”

Miss Smith shrugged. “No demand,” she said.

Joe didn’t know what to say to this.

“Hold on,” Miss Smith said, and she went off into the bookshelves. She returned with a book entitled Joe’s Luck, or Always Wide Wake by Horatio Alger.

“You might read this, instead,” she said.

“But this is by Horatio Alger,” Joe said. “You just said–”

“It says it’s by ‘Horatio Alger,'” Miss Smith said. “But look: it came out in 1913.”

She pointed out the date.

“Alger died in 1899,” she said.

Joe didn’t understand.

“It’s by a ghost writer,” Miss Smith said.

She wrapped the book up and handed it to Joe. “On the house,” she said. “Let me know what you think.”

Joe walked back out into the street. He opened his copy of Joe’s Luck, and made his way through the first few pages. A character named “Oscar” insulted a character named “Joe,” in front of a third character, “Annie Raymond.”

The last line on the second page read: “Joe flushed with anger.”

David Rapp is a writer living in New York City.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the completely remixed novel.

Joe’s Luck: The World’s Longest Literary Remix