Milkman by Anna Burns is many things – not least, a Man Booker Prize winner – but it is not “about a young woman’s affair with a married man in Troubles-era Belfast” as summarised in the Barometer column in last Saturday’s Irish Times. In fact, the unnamed protagonist is stalked by the married man in question, prompting Twitter user Maeve Flanagan to ask: Did the author of this read Milkman?
Inspired by this, I invited the Twittersphere to misdescribe the plot of a well-known book, offering as an example:
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry
Archaeologists on a dig on Dorinish island discover what they believe to be John Lennon's femur
Here is a sample of readers' suggestions:
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
An LGBT couple going home after Saturday's parade are jeered on the bus.
Ulysses by James Joyce
A young man living in a tower gets drunk at a funeral, meets a ghost in a brothel, and gets the shit kicked out of him by an English soldier.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A young, blind baseball protege must catch 22 balls in a row to win 1 million dollars.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Two bros work hard and play hard as they make the twenties roar. Fast cars, faster women, and the fastest fast boat gliding ceaselessly into the future
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Rich girl falls for convicted sex offending commoner
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
It is about a bicycle.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
In which a London flower girl learns about high society.
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
A man goes into his kitchen but can't remember what he went in for.
The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
A man lies in bed and contemplates getting up...
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Hilarious chalk and cheese rom com tale of a New Orleans hot dog vendor and his on-again-off-again beatnik girlfriend.
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
The story of a man who takes his dog on a road trip to the coast, the characters they meet along the way and their madcap scrapes.
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Mayo man gets long sentence, following deadly car accident.
That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern
A story of Irish soldiers fighting in the Pacific theatre in WWII.
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Robert Langdon navigates a series of challenges in the Vatican and elsewhere trying to determine the true outcome of the bloodline of Jesus Christ.
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Two film critics sit down and discuss the work of art that is Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and its charasmatic lead Kevin James.
The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe
Young Francis Brady takes his first job at a family butcher in Clones. Fun for all the family as Francie learns how to keep his knives sharp and his apron clean.
Middle-aged American musician behaves like a complete knob.
The Unbearable Lightness of Bing
Bob Hope laments his best friend's unfathomable weight loss.
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
A porn feast for necrophiliacs.
Further examples of badly-described plots of famous books are welcome