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Mallory Ortberg Books In Order

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Texts from Jane Eyre (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Mallory Ortberg otherwise known as Daniel Mallory Otberg is an American editor, writer, and cofounder of “The Toast” a once very popular but now defunct general interest and feminist site. Aside from “The Toast”, she is known for the 2014 published novel “Texts from Jane Eyre” and its sequel “The Merry Spinster” that came out in 2018. She has been active in journalism where she has been working penning “Slate’s” advice column “Dear Prudence” and hosting its corresponding podcast. Ortberg grew up in Menlo, where her father was church pastor and her mother served in the church ministry as the chief executive officer of the “Transforming the Bay with Christ”. While she was born female, she has come out as queer and transitioned to transgender while she was penning The Merry Spinster. She got her bachelor’s degree in Azusa Pacific University.

Ortberg started her writing career writing for “Gawker” before she moved to “The Hairpin”. It was at The Hairpin where she met Cliff Nicole, who would become a friend and later cofounder of Toast website that they ran together. “The Toast” that was launched in 2013 became one of the most beautiful and weird places for the edgy to congregate. The website did not hold back and could go from publishing deeply earnest treatises on racism to making jokes about Victorian novel characters texting each other. It attracted both the unknown and known persons from the likes of Margaret Atwood to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who penned a piece for it before it was shuttered in 2016. While the website shut down, it did not completely die as most of it was sent for preservation in The Library of Congress while “Children’s Stories Made Horrific”, one of its most popular columns inspired “The Merry Spinster”. Mallory Ortberg made the Forbes list of top 30 under 30 most influential persons in media in 2015. In the same year, she launched a new email newsletter that would be distributed on a paid subscription. The newsletter that would take on the same themes that “The Toast”, had is named “Shatner Chatner”. Mallory has cited John Bunyan of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and “We Have Always Lived in the Caste” by Shirley Jackson as some of her most important writing influences.

Mallory Ortberg made her mark in the literary scene when she published “Texts from Jane Eyre” that came out in 2014 to become a New York Times bestselling title. The book was derived from some of the columns that Ortberg wrote while she was working for the magazine the Hairpin, which she moved over to The Toast. In the novel, Ortberg writes of how it would be if famous characters in Victorian and contemporary literature would send texts to each other. The idea came to Ortberg when Cliffe got a comment from a reader who read her review of “Gone With the Wind”. According to the reader the experiences in the novel were almost identical to hers only that the people in the novel did not have cell phones. Mallory thought it would be fun if Scarlett O’Hara had a cell phone, and thus was born the idea of a bestseller. Her highly anticipated second release titled “The Merry Spinster” is an archetypal reinvention of popular fairy tales the likes of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella”. Both of the novels walk a thin line between comedy and horror though the second novel tends to be more of horror as opposed to the comedy of the first. The novel is a representation of the distinctive and sharp voices that infuse philosophical questions into contemporary writing.

“Texts from Jane Eyre”, which is Mallory Ortberg’s debut novel takes a very simple concept and makes it into quite an intriguing proposition. What if the likes of Scarlett O’Hara could text each other as we do today? Would they use our emojis? And what would be the content of their texts? Given that the novel draws much of its stories and characterization from novels, it comes with a lot of inside jokes that are hilarious especially if one has read the classics. The novel has everything from “The Great Gatsby” to “Pride & Prejudice” and “Odysseus”. For anyone not conversant with classic literature, there are the likes of “The Hunger Games”, which is more of a young adult novel. Taking from the Hunger Games, Ortberg writes a comedic narrative about the obsessive Peeta and her baking habits. She will have you rolling on the floor with her humorous take on what your favorite characters will say with the likes of Haethcliff and Catherine texting so uncharacteristic romantic texts. The novel is best read from the coffee table rather than on a marathon run. They are great for leafing through in the evening when you need a good laugh and make for great conversation starters at a party or when you have friends over.

“The Merry Spinster” is Mallory Ortberg’s second novel that is just as awesome as the first if not better. However, unlike her previous title she goes for the rewriting of popular fairy tales to make them mischievous and dark. Using her classic comedy, horror, and light wit that she had when she was writing the “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” column for Toast, this is a great beach read. One of the most important things the author is trying to portray is the sense of destabilization and deconstruction that Ortberg so eloquently puts out. The stories are alien, yet familiar and inviting all in one stroke given that they are a twist on some of the most popular fairy tales and children’s tales that most of the readers have grown up loving and reading. The author combines feminist mischief with emotional clarity, and psychological horror to make for a delightful series of stories that was so beloved on the blog The Toast. Her hyper nerdy swagger and boisterous humor is clearly evident as she puts a delightful spin to some of the most popular fiction, which may sometimes be a little unsettling with its mischievous tones. Nonetheless, Ortberg remains very faithful in maintaining the spirit of her sources, though she does frequently alarm her readers with everyday complexities and stories that most of her readers likely encounters or tell themselves in their everyday lives.

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