Whatever Gets You through the Night: A Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian Entertainments
Princeton University Press, 2011
"I fear each passing night that I will not receive my maintenance dose of suspense, and then I will cease to exist."--Whatever Gets You through the Night
Whatever Gets You through the Night is an irreverent and deeply funny retelling of the Arabian Nights and a wildly inspired exploration of the timeless art of storytelling. Award-winning writer Andrei Codrescu reimagines how Sheherezade saved Baghdad's virgins and her own life through a heroic feat of storytelling--one that kept the Persian king Sharyar hanging in agonizing narrative and erotic suspense for 1001 nights. For Sheherezade, the end of either suspense or curiosity means death, but Codrescu keeps both alive in this entertaining tale of how she learned to hold a king in thrall, setting with her endless invention an unsurpassable example for all storytellers across the ages. Liberated and mischievous, Codrescu's Sheherezade is as charming as she is shrewd--and so is the story Codrescu tells.
"[Codrescu] isn't offering a retelling of the original Arabic tales, but is presenting an independent story featuring Scheherazade. . . . The stories share some characteristics and plotlines with Arabian Nights but always with a twist or new metaphysical take. . . . Interesting and witty footnotes about translations of the Arabian Nights and the culture of the story are added as a kind of bonus, contributing to the narrative. . . . Codrescu's fans will love this book, and Arabists will be charmed by this new take on the classic." - David Azzolina, Library Journal
"Andrei Codrescu, with his trademark mixture of wit and wonder, explores the story of the Arabian Nights, how Sheherazade came to spin her nightly tales, and what they might mean to today's population, infiltrated as we are with access and explanation. . . . Under his scrutiny, Arabian Nights becomes larger than its sum of stories and stretches to encompass the future of humanity, the future of storytelling. Codrescu isn't retelling the Arabian Nights as much as he is reveling in their existence and sharing them with the contagious glee of a boy and his can of worms. . . . An homage to the power of stories, Codrescu's book of Arabian tales will well serve those who have studied the text before and those readers new to it. He is a funny and commanding guide, and his obvious love for the written and spoken word tints every line with a vital hue." - Andi Diehn, ForeWord Reviews