Reader’s Digest Condensed Books

Judge me unfavorably if you like. I understand why Reader’s Digest Condensed Books are a pariah. However, my grandmother had a subscription and they’ve been sitting on a shelf for decades. So, I finally pick one up and read the first story.

Don Quixote, U.S.A.

Don Quixote, U.S.A. by Richard Powell is a fiction comedic novel in the 1966 Volume 4 book. I soon notice (albeit through the eyes of a modern reader) the use of racial stereotypes, the degradation of women and the white savior trope. These are played for laughs around the perpetual motif of the stupid American (El Estupido). The writing is clever but I seldom laugh. Perhaps I don’t fully appreciate how deep the tongue is in the cheek. I have never read Cervantes’ Don Quixote de La Mancha so who am I to judge? I will simply say that the gag is played from beginning to end and in Powell’s version at least, that’s tiresome. The nonstop ridiculousness had a more favorable effect on Woody Allen, who used it as a source for scriptwriting for the movie, Bananas (1971). When I come across the film I will update here. I’m quite sure this condensed version of this novel is not better than Powell’s original but it is shorter. And for that I am thankful.

The King’s Pleasure

The King’s Pleasure by Norah Lofts is a historical novel in the 1969 Volume 4 book. It’s a sympathetic life story of Katharine of Aragon. I found it to be an enjoyable, almost effortless read. Maybe made easier because I watched The Tudors television series years ago and that gave me some context. Is that a ridiculous admission? Anyhow, as I read I begin to wonder what was taken out for this condensed version. Some insight into these phenomenal characters? A vignette that sheds more light on the goings on at court? Intimate scenes? Or just unimportant prattle? Therein lies the problem with condensed books. You don’t know what you’ve missed. Despite that, I’ve increased my interest in this time period in England. Perhaps that’s enough.