The Bad Boys of Historical Revisionism

Do you ever wonder about random stuff? Say, do you ever think that maybe, just maybe, everything you’ve been told about history is a lie, that what you know is just what everyone wants you to believe? Sure, history says that events happened a specific way, but what if that’s only half the story? I don’t know about you, but I’m prone to daydreaming, and more often then not I find my thoughts traveling back in time and imagining A.) what it would be like to be in the past, B.) How things would be different from what I’ve been told and C.) What I could change if I was in the past. Books that play into these musings are my very favorite.

Now that I’m both a grownup AND working in a library I know that daydreaming is actually called speculating, and that these amazing books that tweak what we know of history are called Historical Revisionism. They’re part of a branch of fiction that focuses on what life would be like if just a few things were different, called Speculative Fiction. (Bear with me here, these terms I’m throwing around may sound fancy, but really they’re all just fiction at heart.) Think of some of your favorite books; maybe one where there are vampires living in Louisiana, or one where the South won the Civil War, or even one in which a dorky teenaged wizard battles for the fate of the world using a wooden stick and a scar. Speculative fiction at its best, baby.

I was so excited to see new books by two of my favorite revisionist authors on our New and Forthcoming List for March.

Seth Grahame-Smith is a master at changing how we look at history and the classics of literature. He helped us imagine what the world of Pride and Prejudice would be like if infested with zombies or if Abraham Lincoln really was a kick-butt vampire hunter. His newest book, Unholy Night, reimagines the tale of the Three Wise Men, casting them not as incense toting magicians on camels but as infamous thieves who stumble on that specific manger quite on accident. Shenanigans ensue as the unlikely group fights their way to Egypt, through historical figures and biblical myths alike. I CANNOT wait!

Christopher Moore is the is the sort of funny genius that we all secretly long to be. He takes the most ridiculously boring settings, say the court of King Lear or the missing years of Jesus’ early childhood, and turns them into the laugh-out-loud funny books that cause people to stare at you strangely in the waiting room at your dentist’s office. We just got our copy of his newest masterpiece, Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art. When Vincent van Gogh ‘supposedly’ shoots himself, his friends Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Latrec set out on a quest to find to the truth through the brothels and bakeries of Paris. It has all of my favorite things; art, cognac, french bread and a very specific shade of blue. I mean bleu. Oh and cancan dancers, can’t forget those, love cancan dancers!

One Comment
  1. **Update**
    I’m halfway through Sacre Bleu and it is AMAZING so far! Christopher Moore is a genius. I especially love how the text is printed in a lovely shade of blue. They also have classical works of art smattered throughout the book as needed so that you don’t have to stop reading and go look up the paintings that are being discussed by the characters. Genius I say.

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