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THE BOOK OF SEQUELS by Henry Beard, Christopher Cerf, Sarah Durkee, and Sean Kelly (Random House: $16.95; 144 pp.).

March 17, 1991|Sonja Bolle

The sequel, as the authors of this book point out, is a time-honored literary form. What is Homer's "Odyssey," if not a sequel to "The Iliad"? Here are dozens of suggested spin-offs, Part IIs, prequels, updates, sons-of and revenges-of. Remember how enlightening it was to peruse "The Way Things Work"? Think of the revelations to be had from "The Way Things Break"! (The sample page here explains the deterioration of the $3 umbrella.) The titles alone are hilarious (Godot Action Comics!), but some of the actual excerpts offered are very good parodies, such as the several-page Dickens take-off, "Two Cities II: The Tale Continues," which takes up the story: "It was the best of guillotines, it was the worst of guillotines, it was the embodiment of action, it was the embodiment of friction, it was a model of simplicity, it was a model of complexity . . . the sliding shuttle that bore the razor-edged wedge of steel joggled in its rails and then jammed fast a full two feet from Sydney Carton's neck."

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