From Harry, Revised by Mark Sarvas:
Abridged or unabridged? That is the question.
Harry stands in the deserted, brightly lit Fiction & Literature section of his favorite chain bookstore, weighing a book in each hand. In his right, The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin, unabridged) weighing in at a formidable 1,276 pages. In this left, The Count of Monte Cristo (Puffin Classics, abridged) tipping the scales at a svelte 396 pages. Harry weights the pros and cons of each, literally as well as figuratively.
He can’t deny that an irresistible bit of cachet comes with being an unabridged sort of guy. If depth follows effort, as Harry is reasonably convinced that it must, surely his best hope for a Dantes-esque rebirth must be found in these pages.
But Harry also knows himself, knows the limits of his attention span, and fears that The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin, unabridged) is fated to end up as little more than an impressive desk ornament. And, he reasons, if the story can effectively be whittled down to a mere 396 pages (Puffin Classics, abridged), then how necessary can the rest really be? (92-3)
Harry Revised is one of the contenders in The Morning News Tournament of Books. It has some impressive contortions in chronology, and can be quite funny, as I found the above passage, but it walks the thin line between humor and cringe-worthy pathos that can sometimes make for an uncomfortable read. I’ll keep reading to see if Harry can come of middle-age and pull off a Dantes-esque rebirth.