Hard to believe that it’s been forty years since the Harvard Lampoon’s last book-length parody, the Tolkien send-up Bored of the Rings. Thankfully, the Cambridge wags are back it it with a black-covered novel called Nightlight. In the first chapter we’re introduced to a sullen lass named Belle, who is being driven to the airport by her parents:
I had a dejected, brooding expression on my face, and I could tell from the reflection in the window that it was also an intriguing expression. It seemed out of place, coming from a girl in a sleeveless, lacy top and bell-bottom jeans (stars on the back pockets). But I was that kind of girl — out of place. Then I shifted from that place on the dashboard to a normal position in the seat. Much better.
At her first day in a new school, she notices an unusual boy in the cafeteria:
A computer sat before him on the table. He stared intently at the screen, narrowing his eyes into slits and concentrating those slits on the screen as if the only thing that mattered to him was physically dominating that screen. He was muscular, like a man who could pin you up against the wall as easily as a poster, yet lean, like a man who would rather cradle you in his arms. He had reddish, blonde-brown hair that was groomed heterosexually. He looked older than the other boys in the room — maybe not as old as God or my father, but certainly a viable replacement. Imagine if you took every woman’s idea of a hot guy and averaged it out into one man. This was that man.
Good stuff. I am actually a great believer in parody, and incorporate when I can in my writing classes. What better way to really learn about a writer’s style—and about style in general—than by imitating it? Try it some time: it’s harder than it looks.