MIDTOWN — "Alice in Wonderland" just got stranger.
A Midtown author has updated the classic tale with a modern-day twist — in her version, Alice is from the Bronx, Wonderland is Central Park and the story is told entirely in text messages.
"Alice's Adventures in NYC Wonderland - The Text Generation" tells the story of “Little” Alice, a typical New York City teen who “luvs” her iPhone, “Fbook,” Harry Potter, Juicy Couture clothes and Dylan's Candy Bar. She was born in the Bronx (like J.Lo + Sean P!), but moves to the Upper West Side.
Author Susan Crimp said the concept of telling a classic tale in text came as she watched bookstores shutting their doors across the city and saw a generation of young people being raised with little exposure to classic novels.
“You walk around New York and you see Borders closing down and everyone on a phone and a BlackBerry,” she said, recalling her childhood in London, where she discovered the joys of getting lost in a book.
When she saw a 15-year-old boy on a flight from Madrid who was listening to the Beatles and had no idea that they weren’t a new band, something clicked.
“[I realized] It really doesn’t matter how old a thing is as long as it’s a good thing,” she said.
In the new book, Crimp's version of Alice is the descendant of the original Lewis Carroll character, and, like her ancestor Alice, she falls asleep and finds herself heading down a rabbit hole — but this one is located near the famous Alice statue on the East Side of Central Park, near East 75th Street.
The book's text message format is intended to engage a new generation of potential young readers who might otherwise never pick up the original Carroll version or even watch the film.
She hopes that once readers meet the adventurous Alice and identify with her character, they’ll be inspired to pick up the original and then maybe turn to other classic texts.
“I think this may be a road to getting kids to read great books,” said Crimp. "How else will you get non-readers engaged?”
Crimp knows some will be horrified by the concept, and expects criticism from those who feel she's butchered Carroll's text. Even she, at times, told herself while writing, "You can’t do that!” she said.
But Crimp said she pushed ahead with the project, staying true to her intention through nearly 300 pages of text.
“Above all, it’s meant to be fun," she said.
The book also comes with a warning for readers to refrain from texting while they’re at school:
“B 4 entering Wonderland N Y: @School listen 2 ur teachers. @Home listen 2 yur parents + n wonderland ejoy the language bt only use whn txting," it says.
(For those who need a translation, Crimp has provided a text-to-English dictionary at the front of the book.)
Crimp's illustrator, Upper West Sider Arielle Jessop, 26, said while she was skeptical at first about how it could be done, she loved being exposed to a new written form.
“It’s fascinating to see that there’s an unspoken language,” she said.
In addition to the electronic version released on Amazon Kindle last week, Crimp said she's completed two follow-ups, "Through The NYC Looking Glass" and "Great Textpectations," set to be published later this year.
She also hopes to release a print edition of "Alice" soon, and is in discussion about a possible film version with subtitles in text-message form.
"Alice's Adventures in NYC Wonderland - The Text Generation" is available to downloaded now.