Literary Theme Parks

Dickens World is opening in the UK. I had no idea this was even being constructed. It’s a theme park based on the books of Charles Dickens. No pick-pocketing games with prizes. No old women wearing their wedding dress for years and years. But a lot of other strange stuff like this:

Purists don’t even appear that perturbed by a soft play area called Fagin’s Den. That’s the same Fagin who ran a petty-theft sweatshop and beat children with a toasting fork – not an obvious person to name a creche after. “There’s something very attractive about Fagin and about the atmosphere that he creates for children in his employ,” says Leon Litvack, trustee of the Dickens Museum and professor at Queens University Belfast. “There is a sinister motive but Dickens treats that with humour. Oliver’s life there is better than it was in the workhouse.”

Attractive to whom?

Anyway, it go me to thinking about building a literary theme park here in the U.S. Which U.S. author would yield the most fun theme park?

A Don Delillo Theme Park could have attractions like Dodge the Left-Hand Shooter and Run from the Toxic Cloud. It would be dark, grim, and paranoid-inducing, similar to getting a case of The Fear while smoking too much pot sometimes. I’d still prefer the pot over the park in that case.

A park based on Phillip Roth’s books (I can see the rides already: the Circle Jerk, the Overbearing Mother, the Extra-Marital Affair, and Make That Damn Feminist Academic Shut-up) could be conceivable only in a state like Nevada where the prostitution laws would allow certain things deemed indecent in other states but not in literature. Note: this also would apply to a Henry Miller or John Rechy Theme Park.

A William S. Burroughs Theme Park would be modest in size, basically the size of an opium den with rooms so that people could experiment with all the different drugs they want, with paramedics at the ready for any ODs. I don’t think a Dr. Benway ride would be much fun though…

The Ernest Hemingway Big Game Park might be fun for those trying to return us to a more Manly Culture, complete with drinking games, deep-sea fishing, and bull fights. It would of course have to be clean and well-lit.

The William Faulkner Theme Park would be well, hmm…No one would want a Popeye Corncob Ride, or want to end up like Joe Christmas or Quentin Compson. And having somebody clinging to a fence crying and bellowing “Caddy! Caddy!” would be way too creepy. Okay, so no theme park based on Faulkner.

By that standard, too, a Toni Morrison Theme Park wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun either. Or a Richard Wright one. Or a Louise Erdrich one. And definitely not Cormac McCarthy. Rides based on “The Road” or “Blood Meridian” would not be much fun indeed. Or anything by Hubert Selby Jr. for that matter.

One based on Aimee Bender’s stuff might be trippy enough, though.

I guess that leaves us with the rides based on Dr. Seuss’s books in Orlando, FL.


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