Having resigned myself to failure in my real career, I began selling old books online last week in an attempt to find another way to fund my plastic surgery addiction. I started with necessary operations like breast reduction surgery and weekly earlobe adjustments, but my urge for physical perfection eventually led to slightly more elective procedures, like eyebrow enhancements and antler implants. I’m still not sure if I made the right decision, but now at least I can respond to “nice rack” jokes by goring people to death.
I expected my stockpile of books to fund quite a few surgeries, but it turns out that most of the tomes I own have market values ranging between seventy-five cents and free. I might have made a bit more than zero dollars had I sold the books sooner, but I figured the books’ value would magically go up if I held onto them for half a year after I graduated. By then, the textbooks would be outdated, I reasoned, thereby making them collectors’ items. Shockingly, my cunning capitalist gamble didn’t pay off, most likely because Half.com is patronized by communists.
While the absolute worthlessness of my textbook stockpile is commendable, what’s equally impressive is the collection of literary works I own that are valued at less than free. Half.com wouldn’t let me list about forty books from Lola’s collection of paperback fantasy and historical fiction novels. Intrigued, I decided to read a few of them, but to me “reading” and “making wild assumptions based entirely on cover art” are practically the same thing. Here are the plot summaries that resulted from that process:
The Silver Crown
In an age filled with magic and whimsy but not air conditioning, a swordsman battles four armed midgets for the right to stand in the cool shadow of a low-flying dragon. The fight comes to a sudden and violent end when the swordsman realizes that he has long arms and that his opponents can barely reach his kneecaps. After bravely dispatching four individuals whose ability to defend themselves was severally hampered by chromosomal growth defects, the swordsman heads off to a nearby fair to bang some wenches and complain about the lack of central air in medieval tents. The book is obviously a moral tale intended for children and anyone else who is too short to be of any value to society. The message is that people of small stature can expect swift and meaningless deaths when defying the wishes of those who are considered to be of average height.
Cleopatra’s boobs are escaping. Noble Alexander attempts to help her rein them in, but she refuses to accept assistance from any man wearing an iron skirt. Realizing that he has been shunned, Alexander spends the rest of the novel sulking and booting field goals through the uprights on Cleopatra’s head. This is the historical basis for that Peanuts gag where Lucy pulls away the football before Charlie Brown can kick it. It’s also the basis for that Scooby Doo episode where Shaggy kicks Thelma in the face for not putting out. The moral of the story is that prudishness almost always results in blunt force trauma to the head.
In the future, or the past – or perhaps some kind of futuristic past that led to a mildly more confusing present – dragons, spaceships and flying women race. It’s an arrangement that makes sense if you understand how the idea for this book developed. The original manuscript focused on a group of hermits that specialized in making tasty soups. The publisher loved the draft but suggested a few minor changes, like adding dragons, spaceships and flying women and taking out all references to the hermits and their delectable liquid foodstuffs. In the final form of the novel, the big plot twist is that dragon-spaceship-woman races are rigged: The dragon doesn’t try, the spaceship abuses steroids, and the woman is too busy with food preparation and baby making to ever compete successfully. The lesson here is that reading fantasy novels is an activity best left to those who enjoy discussing missed opportunities for dramatic subplots involving soup.
A giant spider and a half-naked man offer to help the centaur build his castle. This is a euphemism for a wild spider-on-half-horse-half-man-on-half-naked-man orgy. After helping the centaur build his castle so well that the horse part of him limps for a week, the spider and half-naked man move on to less violated pastures. The centaur then returns to the unenviable task of building a castle to accommodate a creature that dines like a man and craps like a thoroughbred. The name of the castle, Roogna, is an anagram of Noogar, which seems vaguely racist. As a hideous freak of nature and a bigot, the centaur teaches young readers that that tolerance is a vice best reserved for beautiful people who don’t enjoy intra-species sex romps .
When Your Money Fails
Unlike the other books on this list, this one is mine, not Lola’s. It also can’t be considered a fantasy or historical fiction novel, so I created a hybrid genre for it that I like to call fantastic historical fact. I acquired this insightful piece of fundamentalist Christian journalism from a reputable garage sale years ago, and I’ve seldom regretted the eighteen cents I invested in it. According to the cover, the book exposes the efforts of world governments to summon the anti-Christ through clever uses of the number “666.” As the picture on the front of the book indicates, the primary agent of this apocalyptic conspiracy will be zombie George Washington. The undead president has a barcode on his head, suggesting that there will be so many zombie Washingtons that a scanner-based inventory system will be necessary to keep track of them all. The central point of the book is that you won’t have to choose a side in the final showdown between faith and patriotism if you just let zombie George Washington devour your soul.
Since so much information can be revealed simply by glancing at a book’s cover, reading has indubitably become obsolete. There’s no need to negotiate with the striking writers in California since the stuff that goes between the two covers of a book is now completely unnecessary. If pictures were added to the front of screenplays, that problem would take care of itself as well. In this way, with a little imagination and too much free time, it’s possible to undo in a few short hours the language advances mankind strove for thousands of years to achieve.