In Praise of (Some) Prequels

I once wrote a post about sequels. Today, the sequel to that piece is about…prequels.

Many prequels are by the same authors who previously wrote the set-later-in-time novels, while some are by writers who penned their books after the original writers died.

Prequels have the positives of offering readers more insight into characters (by seeing them again, in their younger years). Readers also get the chance to have their curiosity about those characters further sated. And prequels have other advantages I’ll bring up as I offer some specific examples — now.

I recently finished the latest Jack Reacher novel, 2016’s excellent Night School, and, as in The Affair, author Lee Child goes back in time to show Reacher in the 1990s. We learn more about the charismatic Jack’s military career before he became a roaming vigilante loner without a permanent home. And we see Reacher once again in his mid-30s, when most other recent Child novels have depicted Jack in his 50s. Obviously, when you fight bad guys with not only your brain but lots of physicality, it helps to be two decades younger…  🙂

Wide Sargasso Sea
is an example of a prequel — to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre — written by a different person. That would be Jean Rhys, who penned the novel long after Bronte died. Rhys’ idea was to give Jane Eyre‘s “madwoman in the attic” her due — showing her earlier life before and after meeting Rochester, and showing that she was a more complex character than portrayed by Bronte. Wide Sargasso Sea is a compelling, richly written book, but nothing beats the riveting Jane Eyre.

The Deerslayer was the last written of James Fenimore Cooper’s five “Leatherstocking” novels, yet it shows white woodsman Natty Bumppo and his equally impressive Native American friend Chingachgook at their youngest. Nineteenth-century readers were undoubtedly thrilled to finally learn about the early years of those two memorable characters, and to “see” New York’s wilderness in a mostly undeveloped form. Plus I think The Deerslayer is the best of those five Cooper novels — including much more famous The Last of the Mohicans.

Another advantage of prequels is that they give authors a creative change of pace that can help them keep things fresh. Heck, maybe they don’t have many more things to say or plot variations to offer about their protagonists in those characters’ present day.

Disadvantages of prequels? In some cases, they might be written mostly to make money. Or perhaps we’re getting too much of the characters. Or maybe we’d rather leave their earlier lives to our imagination.

What are your favorite prequels? What do you think of the idea of prequels?

My 2017 literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece, partly about August 21’s major eclipse, is here.

63 thoughts on “In Praise of (Some) Prequels

  1. Dave, I had a revelation during the past few weeks, that as much as I love books and art, I’m much more interested in music. As I may have said before, I’ve fallen in love with the piano I bought a month or so ago. Someone’s coming out next Tuesday to give it a re-tuning, and will fix the sticky A key I’ve now got (all free of charge). I’ve read so many books in my life, though I love that, if didn’t read any more, I’d still have read much more than most people. What I tried to do with coloring, I’ve now reached with playing the piano, that I’ve finally found something that satisfies my creative urges.

    That being said, I just received in the mail today, the latest Louise Penny mystery “Glass Houses” that I’m looking forward to reading. I’ve also been reading for the umpteenth time, “My Small Family Living” by Jeanine McMullen, a non-fiction book about her buying a small farm in Wales and raising horses, goats, etc., not to mention her cats and whippets.

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    • Well, music is a great thing to love, Kat Lib. And then there’s literature with musical references, and music with literary references… 🙂

      Wonderful that piano-playing has become an important part of your life!

      Within a few days, I’ll be reading my first Louise Penny novel — “How the Light Gets In,” which you recommended. Hope you enjoy “Glass Houses,” as I imagine you will!

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      • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the horrible flood that has and is still occurring in east Texas and Louisiana. One of my childhood girlfriends spends half of her time in Lancaster, PA, and the rest of the time in Houston. Fortunately, she has heard from her neighborhood that they didn’t have flooding where their homes are. Two of the most affecting videos I’ve seen from this terrible tragedy are: 1) a man who returned to his home and sits on his piano playing while his home has been flooded almost to the top of the keyboard; and 2) the dog walking down the street carrying a bag of dog food in his mouth (which was rather funny). The good news is that a pop/rock musician has said she’ll buy a new piano for this man if it is damaged; and that the dog has been reunited with his family and brought the dog food to the grandfather who was taking care of him, dropping the food at his feet, as if to say “OK, it’s time for dinner now”!

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        • Yes, Kat Lib, some heartening news and humor even in the midst of awful tragedy. And Hurricane Harvey IS awful — totally catastrophic. If “the powers that be” in Texas and Washington don’t learn a lesson about climate change and overdevelopment, well…they’re not going to learn a lesson — too much short-term money to be made and too much bogus discrediting of progressives to be continued.

          Glad your childhood girlfriend’s part-time Houston neighborhood fared okay.

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  2. In the 20th century, mostly in the 1950’s, there was a pop music fad involving what were termed ‘answer songs’, some eventually becoming more popular than the songs to which they reply. “Bear Cat” by Rufus Thomas is an answer song to Big Mama Thornton’s (and later, Elvis’)”Hound Dog”. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is Kitty Wells’ answer to Hank Thompson’s The Wild Side of Life”, and then there’s Muddy Waters who made “Hootchie Kootchie Man”, answered by Bo Diddley with “I’m A Man” which was answered by Muddy Waters’ Mannish Boy.

    According to the wikipedia entry on the topic, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” is an answer song to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”!

    This answer song phenomenon has parallels in literature, a famous example occurring at the dawn of English long fiction writing: Henry Fielding’s “Shamela” is a retort in pamphlet form, and a bawdy and low one at times, to Samuel Richardson’s earlier epistolary novel, “Pamela”. Not a prequel, as it was written without cooperation or permission of the author of Pamela, yet without Pamela there could be no Shamela, nor for that matter would there have been a “Joseph Andrews”, Fielding’s most-read fiction, in that the character Joseph Andrews is, at least according to Fielding his maker, Pamela’s brother.

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    • Love your angle on this, jhNY, and all the interesting information you offered.

      “Joseph Andrews” is a heckuva book in its own right — so funny!

      I’m also reminded of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” being sort of an answer song to Neil Young’s “Southern Man.”

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  3. Aside from the jokey stretch of concept that would make The Adventures of Tom Sawyer a prequel to Huckleberry Finn, I got nuttin, as they say hereabouts, in the book dept., especially as Reacher was featured in your essay.

    However, Godfather II, the movie, has been praised, and I think rightly, for having been a better movie than the first, and it’s a prequel and a sequel. (I admit I haven’t seen either in a while, and mostly when I do have a look, it’s usually just to see the old Mustache Pete named Don Fanucci strut and fret and die in the prequel portion of Godfather II– he’s just such a classic villain of his type.)

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    • Thanks, jhNY! Somehow I’ve only seen the first Godfather movie — so, a major pop-culture deficit on my part. 🙂

      There IS a measure of prequel/sequel stuff going on with the Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn novels.

      Sorry I may have preempted some Reacher talk. If there’s anything you want to add about Jack, please do!

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      • I’d found in my Wiki list that Godfather 2 was considered both a prequel and a sequel, but I must admit that I found the prequel part somewhat boring, so I much more enjoyed the original Godfather than the 2nd movie, and the 3rd was pretty awful with Sophia Coppola playing Michael’s daughter, if I have that right. It turns out she’s a much better director than an actress, which is gratifying for her after being savaged by the critics. I may be on my own with this judgement, but I do admit that The Empire Strikes Back is better than the original Star Wars movie, as much as it pains me to say so, though I think many will agree with me, but, but I do think we all need to I happened to enjoy the 3rd installment, even with the Ewoks, who I found humorous. but I think we all need to find humor, or even pathos, in all that we read or watch!

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          • Oh no, Dave, say it isn’t so! Though I actually wasn’t all that interested in the original Star Wars movie way back when, then I was at a restaurant with family in Detroit and they had a pianist or organist playing songs, and the best one of all was the Star Wars theme, with flashing strobe lights and I was hooked. John Williams has done so many great soundtracks that one almost forgets how many great ones he has done. I had purchased the entire trilogy on CD, and on one of many trips from Philly to Atlanta I listened to the entire CD, and I could picture the entire Star Wars trilogy just listening to the music. Of course, probably the most affecting music Williams ever recorded was the soundtrack to Schindler’s List, which brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. The main violin was recorded by the great Itzhak Perlman; I don’t know how it gets any better than that!

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  4. I enjoy prequels for the most part. I really like digging in deeper to characters that I am attached to, and finding out more about why they became who they are. Since Harry Potter got brought up in the comments a lot – one of my favorite segments of the whole series was the “Prequel within the sequel” in the seventh book, where Rowling dives into the past of Snape and Lilly. One little prequel image that tied so much together!

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    • Well said, M.B.! Prequels definitely give authors and readers a chance to get to know characters better.

      And glad you mentioned prequel content within novels! (I guess that sort of content could also be called flashbacks, back stories, etc.) J.K. Rowling did indeed skillfully do some of that in the “Harry Potter” books. With Snape and Harry’s mother (as you noted), with Voldemort (when he was known as Tom Riddle during his Hogwarts student days), etc. All crucial to the series!

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  5. Do you think “Harry Potter” could be considered a prequel to other JK Rowling stories? No? Never mind then…

    Speaking of Rowling, I think I remember you saying that you had read and enjoyed “The Casual Vacancy”? I’m about three quarters through and finding it a real page-turner. I think I had pigeon holed Rowling into being only a YA writer. I’m happy to be proved wrong.

    Sorry, Dave. I know this is completely off topic. I just wanted to share 🙂

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    • Hmm, Sue…intriguing idea (the seven “Harry Potter” books being a prequel). There’s certainly been some Harry/Hermione/Ron-as-adults stuff going on since then, and who knows what else we’ll see in the future.

      Great that you’re enjoying (the non-magical) “The Casual Vacancy”! I found it compelling, too — and so different from the “HP” series. I haven’t read Rowling’s detective fiction yet, but I imagine that’s excellent as well. She’s a gifted writer.

      As I’ve said before, off-topic is always welcome! 🙂

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  6. Interesting column and comments. I don’t have anything to say that would add. Am currently reading a three book series, “Inkheart”, “Inkspell” and “Inkdeath” by Cornelia Funke. Would they be considered prequel – sequel? I don’t think so the story line segues from one to the next, with little time lapse.

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  7. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are your favorite prequels? —

    An early adopter of the Tralfamadorian concept of time, I am a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” which is thus simultaneously prequel, sequel and everything before, after and in-between the fateful moment when Billy Pilgrim became, becomes, will become unstuck in time.

    — What do you think of the idea of prequels? —

    Very little, apparently, at least with respect to novels. For example, I am also a big fan of Isaac Asimov’s “The Foundation Trilogy” — “Foundation,” “Foundation and Empire” and “Second Foundation” — but I have not yet felt compelled to read either of the two prequels to the trilogy: “Prelude to Foundation” and “Forward the Foundation.”

    Poo-tee-weet?

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

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    • VERY interesting, J.J.! When time travel is involved, the concept of prequels and sequels can get scrambled.

      I didn’t realize Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy has prequels! I guess when one writes several hundred books, a prequel or three would be part of that canon…

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      • — I didn’t realize Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy has prequels! —

        The famously prolific author also penned two sequels: “Foundation’s Edge” and “Foundation and Earth.” I believe I have read the former, but I have been unable to find the book in the stacks, so I cannot say for sure . . .

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          • — Seven books in all? That’s pre-“Harry Potter” territory! —

            With the writer eventually integrating the “Robots” series (including “Robots and Empire,” which I have read) and the “Empire” series (including “Pebble in the Sky,” which I have not read) into the “Foundation” series in a loosey-goosey kind of way, one could argue the latter series actually encompasses significantly more than seven books, but such an arguer would require a greater familiarity with all the relevant Asimovian novels and short stories than I personally possess.

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            • Okay…pre-Jack Reacher territory… 🙂

              I’ve read a few Asimov novels and story collections (maybe 10?), but not enough to have known there was all that integration you mentioned!

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  8. There’s also the elephant in the room prequel that has been discussed extensively on this blog over the last three years–Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’, which I consider to be both Harper Lee’s first and second novel. I believe she wrote a draft before heeding the advice of an editor and expanding the childhood flashback episodes that evolved into ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. After the massive success of book and film of ‘TKAM’, with relentless questions about ‘what’s next?’, she looked around for something to write next, probably discovered the ‘Watchman’ draft and revised it at least to the extent that it included passages lifted word for word from ‘TKAM’ and assumed knowledge of the earlier book (as Harper did, as ‘TKAM’ was fresh in hers, and everyone else’s mind), but probably either got frustrated or bored or both or simply wanted to move on to something totally unrelated to the town of Maycomb. Either way, ‘Watchman’ was revised (I contend) with knowledge of ‘TKAM’, but not to an extent that anyone would have considered publication at that time. Fifty years of legendary and mythical status later, however, publishers thought they smelled a potential gold mine. Well, it was a bit underwhelming but nevertheless an interesting insight to her creative process and the other concerns she had, speaking very boldly from a writer of either sex in those contentious, mid-civil rights movement times. Personally, I salute her for her insight and audacious courage for speaking out, which, unfortunately, she would have to CONTINUE to do right here in the present if she were still around.

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    • bobess48, Glad you mentioned “Go Set a Watchman,” which, from what I read about it, is indeed hard to categorize. Sort of a prequel, sort of a sequel (Scout and other characters are older), an early draft of what became “To Kill a Mockingbird,” etc., etc. Your comment sums up the matter exceptionally well, and, yes, Harper Lee WAS courageous in what she wrote 50-60 years ago.

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    • I said that she “revised it at least to the extent that it included passages lifted word for word from ‘TKAM’” but it is entirely possible that that the reverse occurred in that process. ‘GSAW’ could have contained those passages and she lifted them from it to include in ‘TKAM’. I’m speaking mainly of those passages that describe Maycomb and its history. We really have no way of knowing, short of extensive further evidence that could give definitive proof.

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        • Is it unfair to wonder if she did anything? In other words, what if somebody close got a grip on GSAW (or as I like to call it “How to Kill A Mockingbird”) , still in Lee’s files, as it was the precursor and basis for TKAM, and seeing the possibility of a payday and a flurry of interest around Lee in her dotage, prepared the manuscript for publication without Lee’s help, or maybe even without her knowledge?

          Her gnowing smiles and other non-verbiage around publication time were not enough to convince me of another more scrupulous explanation.

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          • Yes, with “Go Set a Watchman,” there was certainly an exploitative, money-to-be-made angle for the publisher and other interested parties. Harper Lee herself apparently didn’t need the money and, as you noted, may not have had the physical or intellectual capabilities at that point in her life to have any real say in what happened.

            And when I wrote “Too bad Harper Lee didn’t write down some explanation of what she did, even if only for release after she died,” I wasn’t being clear enough. I wish Lee had composed that “GSAW” explanation when she was younger and still at a high-functioning level.

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          • I wouldn’t call her reaction “non-verbiage”. She did say something to the effect that “I’m damn pleased about it” and, when people expressed doubt if she was really the author, said that she definitely wrote it. Her few remarks sounded lucid enough to me. Her sincerity and the fact that it was still a marketing ploy do not contradict each other in my mind. Both could be true. As I’ve said before, it should have been published with less fanfare, as an early novel, like that early novel of Truman Capote’s that was published a few years ago. Of course, I realize that with a work as iconic as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, combined with her reclusive nature and refusal to publish any other full-length work after ‘TKAM’, a lack of fanfare was probably impossible. But there it is, flaws and all. I do consider it a bolder, braver work than ‘TKAM’, in that she pulls no punches with her targets in it. Ultimately, of course, it is inferior but perhaps even more relevant to our all-too-racist present.

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            • What GSAW would never have been, I’d argue, is a best-seller novel– that’s what the manuscript became once an editor, Tay Hohoff, who knew the ingredients required for a best-seller, and knew they were in the manuscript and the author, set herself to the task of getting Lee to work until she had written one: To KIll A Mockingbird.

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  9. Hi Dave,

    May I be a bit self-indulgent and mention some prequels that don’t technically exist – but I wish they did?

    During “The Dark Tower” books, we learn that Roland started his quest to The Tower with a group of childhood friends. They’re all dead now, and mostly we as readers know what happened, but I’d love more back story. Apparently this story exists in comic book form, but for whatever reason, that’s a medium that I’ve never really clicked with. Though I have heard wonderful things about the stories that are told, so maybe I should put them on my list.

    “A Song of Ice and Fire” starts with Robert on the throne, after he and some friends take it from The Mad King. The Mad King’s two remaining children flee the city in fear, leaving no one from that very special family in King’s Landing. Which is a shame because they seem to be such good fun. I’d love stories from when they were in charge, and how it happened that Robert and his friends took the throne. Again, I kind of know the story, but I’d love an actual prequel.

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed your holiday. I feel like I should know this, but where exactly is Cape Cod?

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    • “Some prequels that don’t technically exist, but I wish they did” — I love that approach, Sue! Unfortunately, I can’t comment on “The Dark Tower” and “A Song of Ice and Fire” examples you gave because I’ve yet to read any of books in those series, but your would-be prequels sound really interesting!

      Cape Cod is a backward-L-shaped peninsula off the eastern coast of Massachusetts. This link shows where it is:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=Cape+Cod+map&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi4k_Lui_vVAhXESBQKHXvkClUQ_AUICygC&biw=1440&bih=738#imgrc=2i4Ehsr3pyiydM:

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    • I believe George R.R. Martin has already published a book of prequelish writing to ‘Song of Ice and FIre’–‘The Prince and the Queen’, ‘The Rogue Prince’, ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’, and ‘The Sons of the Dragon’. According to his Wikipedia entry, these are all categorized as ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ prequels. Of course, most of them are either short stories or novellas. I doubt that any of them are as extensive as any of the currently existing five ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ novels. Personally, I view them partly as distractions from his next book in the series, ‘The Winds of Winter’. My theory is that GRRM at this point might feel that the TV series has stolen his ‘thunder’, as they are ending the series before his version will ever appear. He might feel that his own books are a bit redundant at this point? I don’t know, maybe he really needs a lot of distractions, I don’t know. I’ve certainly done my share of procrastinating in this lifetime so who am I to judge?

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      • Bobess, thanks so much for this. I was aware of the “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” collection. It was actually those short stories that introduced me to Martin. But I wasn’t aware that there were ‘new’ novellas (one of the stories you mentioned hasn’t been released yet). It’s not exactly the Robert’s Rebellion novel that I’d love, but given that there is no more “Game of Thrones” until 2019, I’ll take what I can get! I love the Targaryens (who of course have a much bigger impact in Westeros than I alluded to in my original comment) and am looking forward to seeing if I can download those other two novellas tonight. Thanks again!

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      • Sorry, Bobess, I was so excited at the thought of new novellas, that I forgot to reply to the rest of your comment. The more I hear of Martin, the less sure I am that I like him. He was already incredibly slow at releasing the novels, and now with these ‘distractions’ it seems that the show will finish long before the books (apparently 7 novels in total). But he doesn’t seem to care. Maybe he does feel that some thunder has been stolen, but surely he’d be happy with the huge amount of extra fans? And maybe he does feel that the books have become redundant, and I must admit, I would partly agree with that. The HBO adaptation has been done so incredibly well. And not just the quality of the show, which of course is amazing, but the way that it’s been released. Fans knew months in advance that Season 7 would be pushed from April to July because of the weather. We know well in advance that there will be no “GoT” in 2018. We know where we stand and what to expect. But when it comes to the books, all people know is that “Winds of Winter” is coming. Clearly a lot of the novel has already been written as Martin keeps releasing chapters at places like ComicCon, so I’m not sure why it’s taking so long. All we’re told is maybe this year, but probably not. And of course, you have to wonder how much of the next book has already been covered by the show.

        Having said all, I’m excited to have new Targaryen stories to read!

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  10. Dave, so back to your column. I must admit I cheated and googled a List of Prequels on Wikipedia, and it referenced those in literature, films, plays and comics. I was amazed about the number of prequels, especially since I hadn’t read any of them. The closest I came in the literature section was “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” which was of course the prequel to “The Wonderful World of Oz.” I didn’t actually read the book by Gregory Maguire, but I did see the Broadway show “Wicked” (which was wonderful), so does that count? I found most of the prequels in the film and movie sections: All of the first three episodes of Star Wars (that almost everyone despised) as opposed to the original films (IV, V and VI); The Godfather 2, that was both a prequel and a sequel; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, a prequel to A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which came after Raiders of the Lost Ark; and Gods and Generals was a prequel to Gettysburg. As far as TV shows that I used to watch there were, Smallville, the prequel to Superman; and Star Trek Enterprise as opposed to all of the other Star Trek series. So, I’m afraid that’s the best I can do on this topic, interesting as it is!

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    • Great idea to google prequels, Kat Lib! I should have done that while writing my post. 🙂 And, yes, plenty of movie prequels, in a never-ending effort to keep film-franchise money rolling in. Thanks for all the great information! And wonderful that you saw “Wicked”!

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  11. Incidentally, I have begun reading James Lee Burke’s Dave Robichaux series in order. It makes it easier in that he published the novels in roughly chronological order so that at the beginning of the series he is ostensibly younger than he is in the most recent novels although, if his fictional time mirrors our real time, Robichaux would now be in his mid-to late 70’s and, presumably not up for rough-housing. As a Vietnam vet in the 60’s he would be at the youngest in his upper 60’s, an age when the rough and tumble of younger law enforcement figures, regardless of how many scuffles they get into and, preferably, is no longer a daily factor in their lives.

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  12. The most recent prequel that I can recall reading is Larry McMurtry’s ‘Dead Man’s Walk’. It, of course, depicts the early days of Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, former Texas Rangers, now cattle drivers. ‘Lonesome Dove’ made a huge popular and critical impact (it won the 1985 Puliitzer Prize for fiction) and dealt with older veterans of the trail who saw the world changing around them and their place in it.

    In 1993, McMurtry published the sequel, ‘Streets of Laredo’ continuing the adventures of Call (spoiler: Gus dies in ‘Lonesome Dove’). I have not read this novel as I hope to read the books in chronological order rather than the order in which they were published. Actually, I read ‘Lonesome Dove’ about 18 years ago.

    Last year, I read the prequel, ‘Dead Man’s Walk’, published in 1995. I found it suitably harsh and riveting, yet still mild compared to the violent Cormac McCarthy novel ‘Blood Meridian’, set in roughly the same time period close to the same geographical territory.

    The next prequel I read in the series will be the sequel to ‘Dead Man’s Walk, ‘Commanche Moon’, published in 1997. It introduces characters we have already met in ‘Lonesome Dove’ a few years later and probably has a closer relationship to ‘Dove’ than ‘Dead Man’s Walk’, when the rangers are young and initially untried, although by the end of that book, they have survived horrors that most people in the ‘civilized’ world will never see.

    ‘Dead Man’s Walk’ was pretty skillful in plausibly depicting these same characters at earlier stages of their lives.

    The term ‘prequel’ could be applied to novels occurring at earlier times in the characters’ lives in the works of authors such as William Faulkner, Honore Balzac, and Emile Zola that move forward and backward in these characters’ lives, although the only cases that I can recall are Faulkner’s ‘The Sound and the Fury’ which depicts the Compson siblings both in childhood and full maturity and his short story, “That Evening Sun’, in which the Compsons are small children. I vaguely recall that their behavior doesn’t noticeably change and the personalities are pretty well set in their childhood incarnations. The other example that I can recall is Balzac’s character Rastignac, who is the primary character in ‘Pere Goriot’, before he had made his mark in Parisian society and his cameo in the earlier ‘The Wild Ass’s Skin’, written before ‘Pere Goriot’ but set a few years later. I haven’t read enough of Zola to detect several recurring characters throughout his work although I know that the main character in ‘Germinal’ is the brother of the title character in ‘Nana’. The multiple novels of these authors cannot really be considered series in the same way that a series with a recurring fictional character (James Bond, Dave Robichaux, fill in the blank with numerous other characters) is. The same ‘snapshot of a character at a particular moment in his life’ quality still applies.

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    • Thank you, bobess48!

      Somehow I’ve never read anything by Larry McMurtry, though I know of his work. After reading your wide-ranging comment, I think I’ll finally take out something of his during my next library trip.

      The recurring appearance of characters in novels by authors such as Balzac and Zola is so interesting; I love it when a character pops up in a minor role in one book and stars in another book. Another example of that is the artist protagonist in Zola’s “The Masterpiece” having a smaller role in Zola’s earlier “The Belly of Paris.”

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  13. Another test by me:
    Hi Dave, I’m glad you seemed to enjoy your visit to Provincetown. I’ve been there on whale-watching trips 4 times with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (from Brigantine, NJ) with a girlfriend and sometimes with her mother-in-law and once with her mother as well. I’ve got a feeling I mentioned this before, but I don’t remember if it was on your blog or not, but the two older ladies were somewhat appalled about all of the gay/lesbian couples that live in that area. We loved it there, even without the whale-watching excursions, though they were spectacular (except the one that the waters were so rough, they almost called it off and I got seasick). Did you get to The Lobster Pot restaurant? A great place even if you don’t eat fish or meat!

    OK, I admit I don’t yet have any comment to add about prequels, though sometimes these things come to me while trying to get to sleep. Although I must admit that these days I’m reading musical notes instead of books, and go to sleep thinking about chords and piano techniques.

    Btw, I just saw on last week’s post I missed a great exchange (as always) between you and jhNY about the Civil War. Speaking about wars, I just received a copy in the mail of “The Guns Of August,” by Barbara Tuchman. I had read somewhere that JFK was reading this book about how we and all the others somehow got embroiled in WWI without much purpose, as he was trying to decide what to do about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Oh, to have a president who actually reads and knows history, instead of you-know-who!

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    • Thank you, Kat Lib! I did enjoy Provincetown, which we visited on a day trip while staying most of the rest of the week about 40 miles south in Cape Cod’s Chatham. We were tempted to go on one of those whale-watching boats leaving from Provincetown’s pier, but we didn’t get there early enough to really have time for the 3.5-to-4-hour trip. Yes, Provincetown is a real gay mecca — one of many positive things about that place. I saw “The Lobster Pot” restaurant, but didn’t go in because of my being vegetarian. They have some non-seafood dishes? If so, next time… 🙂

      Great point about JFK vs. Trump! JFK certainly had plenty of flaws (his constant womanizing among them), but he was intelligent — and read books! What a concept…

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      • Yes, Dave, The Lobster Pot does have some vegetarian meals — not a lot but some. The time we went there with my friend’s mother, I was sitting next to her and she got the whole lobster, which I have an aversion to. Many years ago I spent time with my beloved brother and his wife in Rockport on Cape Ann in MA, and they probably spent both of their paychecks for the week to buy three lobsters for a special dinner for me. It was the first time I’d ever had a whole lobster that I watched being boiled alive, and all I could think of was the crayfish I had to dissect in high school and I could literally smell the (non-existent) formaldehyde as I was trying to eat this special treat from my brother and his wife. Ugh! But I somehow got it down, though it was extremely difficult!

        So Dave, I’m still trying to come up with a prequel, but I’m being distracted by all these other memories, which happens a lot on your blog. 🙂
        One of the reasons I love it so much!

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        • I really enjoy it when people go a bit or a lot off-topic. Glad you enjoy that, too, Kat Lib!

          Well, after reading your comment, The Lobster Pot is now a destination the next time I visit Provincetown. It’s certainly a unique-looking restaurant on the outside.

          Even when I ate seafood, lobsters made me feel queasy. The way they look, the way they’re killed, etc. Each week when I go food shopping I pass a tank with live lobsters moving helplessly around. 😦

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          • I neglected to mention that my best friend and I are trying to set up a trip to P-town at the end of October. We’ve both been there before but never together, so that would be great, though I’m somewhat apprehensive about it, as I had enough trouble getting on and off the boat and walking around when I had the full use of both legs. So, we’ll have to see what happens. She’s going to be staying here in Kennett with me for our 50th High School Reunion in early October — though I moved away and didn’t graduate along with all of my friends here, I’m now considered an “honorary member.”

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            • Kat Lib, I hope you can get to Provincetown again in October — and it would be nice to do that with your best friend! Also, I hope you can move around okay if/when you’re there. As you know, it’s a relatively compact town in its way, though of course getting on and off a boat can be tricky. Good luck!

              And that’s a major high school anniversary coming up for you — which I guess can be looked at as a positive or negative thing…

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