Picks and Pans Review: Whatever Happened to Lady Chatterley's Lover?

updated 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Martin Levin

Clever and refreshingly disrespectful, this extrapolation of fictional lives twists the fates of 74 well-known literary and screen creations from Anna Karenina to the Frankenstein monster. Levin exhumes more than a few beloved figures from the graves in which their original creators left them—often to return them there after a brief holiday. Some of the characters might have been better left in peace altogether. But the more predictable reversals of fortune and a handful of bad puns don't seriously mar this ingenious little book. Big Brother, for instance, discovers the pitfalls of futuristic warfare when computer failure gives him a case of terminal "downs." Little Red Riding Hood falls prey to a post-Freudian reinterpretation in which the wolf "was an imaginary substitute for her father, whom she wanted to marry, and her grandmother stood for her mother, whom she wanted to do away with." Levin has solicited contributions from several equally mischievous fans of fiction, among them Ira Wallach whose account of Casablanca's Ilsa and Victor Laszlo is one of the most irreverent, (Ilsa blithely forgets all about Rick, while Victor fights Norman Podhoretz for the place farthest to the right on the political spectrum.) Victor Juhasz's pen-and-ink illustrations amplify Levin's wit and compensate for lapses into dull or obvious humor, as when Cratchit shouts at the ghost of Scrooge, "What the dickens are you doing here?" As for Lady Chatterley's lover, Mr. Mellors marries the object of his passion only to return to his former status as gamekeeper after he and Lady Chat divorce because of—what else?—sexual incompatibility. (Andrews, McMeel & Parker, $6.95)

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