That ^ is Roxane Gay’s entire review of the Texts from Jane Eyre on Goodreads and it cracked me right up. The book is currently rated an average of 3.61 stars out of 5, so I assume that’s what she’s referring to.
Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favourite Literary Characters (and also their authors, just so’s you know), is based on the feature of the same name (the first part of the name) from The Toast. The feature askes: if literary characters (and authors) could text, what would they say? And then answers that question in the most amusing way possible. There are some minor-to-moderate spoilers of the works referenced, but I doubt they’d detract much, if at all, from the enjoyment of reading those works for the first time.
Here’s an example of Mr. Rochester texting the eponymous Jane:
DID YOU LEAVE BECAUSE OF MY ATTIC WIFE IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT
BECAUSE MY HOUSE IN FRANCE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE AN ATTIC IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT
IT HAS A CELLAR THOUGH SO YOU KNOW
I consider myself fairly well-read, but damn, I have nothing on Daniel Lavery. Granted I gave up English as a major after one semester (I was double majoring with Journalism, and I replaced English with Psychology) (and then added on minors in Biology and Archaeology because decisions are hard), but I had to look up context for half the books I had read, too. The thing about these imaginary texts is not only are they funny, they are smart. Most of them are fairly amusing even if you know nothing about the context, but the sharpness of the writing and more layers of humour become apparent if you’re familiar with the texts (or at least if you do a bit of Googling).
I suspect the reason for the relatively low GR rating is that it is SHORT and most of it is available online. In fact, there’s a heck of a lot more stuff on the website that I’m just seeing now, having added that hyperlink, and it’s hilarious. This is the main reason I’m rounding down from 3.5 stars to 3 in my post rating.
Another small problem is consistency. The texter and textee are never identified – their characters are meant to be inferred from their messages (although sometimes they do call each other by name). This can be a challenge if you’re unfamiliar with the particular work being satirized, but the bigger problem is that every once in a while, the identities of the texting characters change and there’s no visual indication of this. Lavery uses the “***” image to indicate the passage of time, and the conversation below the image is usually between the same two characters, but occasionally it’s just not, which disrupts the flow of reading and numbs the humour a bit.
Overall, the book is mostly hilarious, though of course it has some misses, but it’s really only a small sample of the comedy that’s available online. A quick read, but much too short.
Side note: When Elliot Page came out as trans, Netflix had updated his name credit on all the relevant movies in their catalogue by the end of the day. For some reason, Amazon, which routinely and without my permission updates my book covers from the lovely and familiar things that I bought to the ugly and irritating TV or movie tie-in covers, has not updated Daniel Lavery’s writing credit, despite the fact that he came out in 2018, so Texts from Jane Eyre is still listed as being written by Mallory Ortberg. I was also unable to find an image of the book with an updated author credit.