10 Novels that Deserve a Remake

I'm that guy throwing around expletives whenever the conversation turns to movie remakes. In a nutshell, I think 99% of them are unnecessary. However, Hollywood cares little for what I think and most fellow film fanatics eat them up, even when they know the final product is going to be pathetically awful—nothing more than a money machine that runs on nostalgia. In any case, since fighting against remakes is futile, I decided to ask for rewrites of existing novels. Yeah, if you can remake good movies, why not other narratives that have been around for a while, right? Here's my list. It is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your own in the comments section.


10. 'Infinite Jest' by David Foster Wallace

There are a plethora of reasons why this should get a remake/rewrite. Here are some of the most crucial:

—Seeing DFW fans freak the fuck out would be awesome. I would laugh and laugh and laugh. Imagine the literary version of the neckbeards who signed the petition to make the last Star Wars movie "not cannon." Hilarious, right?

—I read the manuscript of IJ (beat that, hipsters!) at the Harry Ransom Center, and adding some doodles and crazy marginalia would enrich the text and make it more visually appealing.

—Face it: this book needs more periods. Also, they could add a standard ending and make it even more appealing to regular readers. James Patterson fans reading DFW at the beach. Think about it!

Buy Infinite Jest from Amazon.com

 

9. 'Against the Day' by Thomas Pynchon

Okay, so I have a love/hate relationship with this book, but that has nothing to do with it being on this list. Did I read the book carefully? Yes. Did I understand it? Well, I've taken many classes on deconstruction, have been a professional book reviewer for many years, and have a PhD from a top university...but hell no. I was more confused than a blind priest thrown into an orgy at a rock concert. That being said, if you're going to have the level of weirdness that Pynchon has here, you might as well thrown in some aliens and a few ninjas. Imagine how great it would be if folks complained about the book to you and you could tell them, "Just keep reading, homie. There are some kick-ass fight scenes coming your way."

Buy Against the Day from Amazon.com

 

8. 'Christopher Unborn' by Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Feuntes is a literary giant and I've loved every book of his I have read...except this one. The premise is cool, but the novel is a meandering 532-page monster. First, we need a 150-page version. Second, the narrator (a fetus) needs to have a potty mouth and maybe superpowers. Lastly, the social critique/exploration of Mexican culture and politics, as well as visions for the future, need to be revised to feel more modern. Oh, and maybe this is the one novel where he should put his playfulness aside and focus a bit, so whoever rewrites it doesn't have to be obsessed with being so witty all the damn time.

Buy Christopher Unborn from Amazon.com

 

7. 'Madam Bovary' by Gustave Flaubert

In this narrative about a young woman trying to escape the crushing banality of provincial life thebaljbndahsjabkfdjb. Shit, sorry. I fell asleep on my keyboard. Hands down one of the most insanely boring books I've ever read (yes, we can fight about it, you snobby literati!). Check this: we rewrite with these new elements: an internet lover in another country who's always asking for nudes, an Oxy addiction, a pervy neighbor, and an accidental death that leads to a lot of tension with a cleaner from the mob. Boom. You're welcome.

Buy Madame Bovary (AmazonClassics Edition) from Amazon.com

 

6. 'Twilight' by Stephenie Meyer

We only need a rewrite of the first book because there won't be a sequel. You start out with more or less the same story, but then a crazy fat guy whose favorite movie is Blade somehow discovers that he's immune to vampire bites and goes on a killing spree to try to fill the gaping hole in his life. Lots of blood, massive ennui, tons of bad words. Hell, let's give him a drinking problem as well, since that seems to be a sine qua non element of a lot of modern detective fiction and whatnot. I'd read that.

Buy Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1) from Amazon.com

 

5. 'Young God' by Katherine Faw Morris

This one is in my Top Ten Worst Novels I've Read in the Past Half Decade list. It isn't really a novel; it's a short story printed in a way that the result resembles a novel in terms of page count and thickness. Anyway, the synopsis caught my attention. I want someone to rewrite Young God so that the narrative is more like the synopsis instead of a short mess where nothing materializes.

Meet Nikki, the most determined young woman in the North Carolina hills. Determined not to let deadbeats and dropouts set her future. Determined to use whatever tools she can get her hands on to shape the world to her will. Determined to preserve her family's domination of the local drug trade. Nikki is thirteen years old.

Opening with a deadly plunge from a high cliff into a tiny swimming hole, Young God refuses to slow down for a moment as it charts Nikki's battles against isolation and victimhood. Nikki may be young, but she's a fast learner, and soon―perhaps too soon, if in fact it's not too late―she knows exactly how to wield her powers over the people around her. The only thing slowing her down is the inheritance she's been promised but can't seem to find, buried somewhere deep in those hills and always just out of reach.

Buy Young God: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

4. 'I Am Charlotte Simmons' by Tom Wolfe

Let me break down the changes this one needs:

1. We do away with the plot.

2. We replace every sorority girl with a female CEO, female lawyer, female doctor, or female superhero.

3. Any sorority/fraternity folks that show up get immediately killed.

4. We cut 450 pages from this dumb, massive beast.

5. We put in chunks of Iceberg Slim's Pimp and send those who identify them a gift card or something.

Buy I Am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

3. 'Glamorama' by Bret Easton Ellis

You know what? Fuck it, not every book deserves a rewrite. The execs kill this one and publish a new edition of Less Than Zero instead.

Buy Glamorama (Vintage Contemporaries) from Amazon.com

2. 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov

Oh, I can just hear the hatred boiling in the hearts of Nabokov fans! Anyway, old things are made new again and packaged for a new generation, right? Well, I say we rewrite Lolita as a hardcore horror story/revenge narrative with heavy psychological thriller elements. A group of young women get tired of being harassed by creepy old guys with power and start roving the streets as a ruthless gang of perv punishers. Torture abounds. Seriously, let's get this one done.

Buy Lolita from Amazon.com

 

1. 'The DaVinci Code' by Dan Brown

This novel wasn't that great to begin with, but it was entertaining enough to merit a rewrite for a new generation. Check it: we make Langdon a homosexual black scholar (you know, because screw more white savior narratives and the perpetuation of the idea that all great scholars are white dudes who wear ties), we throw in some real peer reviewed journal stuff in there to make it as smart as it claims to be, and then we switch the old religious stuff for an ultrasecret society that protects the role of aliens in religion. Think Men in Black meets The Passion of the Christ filtered through the worst/best dreams of Giorgio A. Tsoukalos. That right there is a book that deserves to be a best seller.

Buy The Da Vinci Code from Amazon.com


Okay, now it's your turn. What popular novels do you think deserve the remake treatment?

Gabino Iglesias

Column by Gabino Iglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. 

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Comments

Bellbird's picture
Bellbird from Virginia, USA is reading Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey January 8, 2018 - 10:24am

You're awfully kind. I like your remake suggestions for Lolita and The DaVinci Code, but can't think of any others here that I personally want to save or resurrect. Very entertaining and dangerously provocative, thank you. I hope the literati, especially IJ fans, allow you to keep your head.