Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Redubbed by J. Stanislaus

Redubbed is a novel about a group of hapless young employees at a indy publishing house who have to scramble to save their press after the death of its founder. His will stipulates that they must put out a book of short stories inspired by James Joyce's Dubliners, by various authors, in honor of the masterpiece's centennial. The book interweaves the stories of the youthful editors with the Dubliners-inspired stories written by authors they recruit for their book. Because the imaginary authors have diverse literary backgrounds, each story has a distinct literary feel that reflects a particular genre. Yet, overall I felt the novel had a surprising amount of cohesiveness, considering how different each story felt.

While I enjoyed most of the stories in Redubbed, several stand out as brilliant. Stanislaus' "Eveline," set in a futuristic sci-fi universe, is a creepy tour-de-force that captures the claustrophobic intensity of the original story while vividly re-imagining its setting. Moreover, Stanislaus' characters, from the wayward Edgerly to the alluring and ultimately self-sacrificing Marley D, are deeply flawed and enduringly vulnerable. It's fascinating to track their journeys through the book. In fact, my biggest complaint with Redubbed is that their stories feel unfinished. I wanted to know more about what happened with Marley D--did she maintain her transformation? Did she ever recognize her co-worker's crush on her? As for Edgerly, it's rare for a writer to create a character who is so loathsome, yet so pitifully human it's impossible not to sympathize with him.

A few of the stories didn't quite work for me. While I understand the satire behind Stanislaus' "The Dead," I felt that story lacked the human character that drove the other stories. And I was a bit disappointed by the cartoon for "A Mother," especially since a parody of that story might have been the perfect vehicle for Marley D or Edgerly. But as a whole, I'd highly recommend Redubbed to anyone who's a fan of James Joyce. The literary allusions fly thick and fast, and the depth of character shows a great homage to Joyce.

About the Author: J. Stanislaus has worked as an executive assistant, a publicist's intern, a freelance book reviewer, a journalist at a daily newspaper, and a communications coordinator, but his primary love has always been literature. He first encountered James Joyce nearly twenty years ago at the University of California, Berkeley, where he picked up a degree in English while studying for one in Philosophy. A native Californian, his travels have taken him to most of Europe, as well as parts of Asia and Latin America, but never Ireland. He hopes to rectify this someday with a visit to Dublin. Redubbed is his first novel.



Full Disclosure: I do know the author via twitter, though we've never met in person, and he sent me a review copy of the book.


Redubbed a NovelRedubbed a Novel by J. Stanislaus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Redubbed is a novel about a group of hapless young employees at a indy publishing house who have to scramble to save their press after the death of its founder. His will stipulates that they must put out a book of short stories inspired by James Joyce's Dubliners, by various authors, in honor of the masterpiece's centennial. The book interweaves the stories of the youthful editors with the Dubliners-inspired stories written by authors they recruit for their book. Because the imaginary authors have diverse literary backgrounds, each story has a distinct literary feel that reflects a particular genre. Yet, overall I felt the novel had a surprising amount of cohesiveness, considering how different each story felt.

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