Monday, February 27, 2012

The Hungry Game: A Spoof -- my "Hunger Games" parody ebook

There is a wildly popular series of books called The Hunger Games trilogy, about a dystopian world where innocent little children are sent to fight and die as part of a totalitarian government's reality show. The movie, which will be released in late March, is expected to be one of the biggest films of the year.

Will my own parody, The Hungry Game: A Spoof, available now for amazon's kindle (also available for B&N's Nook!), be as popular? Um.

In addition to poking fun at The Hunger Games, it also parodies other young adult novels and the conventions of that rather broad topic of fiction, The Food Network and it's "stars" like Guy Fieri, Sandra Lee, and Paula Deen, cooking competitions, the obesity epidemic, and things like that. Here is the information I posted about it on
Obesity and social unrest destroyed the country once known as Nor-America. From its ashes rose the mighty PainEm, the Capitol of which is home to the enlightened few who can eat processed foods and use money.

For everyone else, there's The Hungry Game.

The Hungry Game is an exciting yearly cooking event for tweens and teens, sponsored by the PainEm government and the PainEm Food Channel. Each of PainEm's 12 Areas sends one boy and one girl to cook in fabled Big Kitchen. The winners will have their recipes featured in obnoxious PainEm Food Channel host Guyman Ferry's new book, Guyman's Big Bite Battle Book. The losers will be executed by the Cookblockers.

The Hungry Game follows the adventures of Kantmiss Everclear and her maybe-boyfriend-but-maybe-not-it's-so-confusing-when-you're-a-teenager-in-a-dystopian-nightmare-world Pauladeen Mudlark as they cook it out against an all-star lineup of Young Adult novel contestants, including Parry Hotter, Fartemis Owl, Horseyboy, Edward Sallow and Blaivan der Dorfwood.

Who will win? What shocking twists await the participants? Are there any zombies in it? Why not read this spoof novel and find out?

"The Hungry Game" spoofs young adult novels, teenagers, cooking shows, cooking competitions, politics, the obesity epidemic, junk food, social order, and cats. If you have any interest at all in any of those things, you practically have a moral obligation to purchase this book.

And here is the first chapter:


When I wake, Brine is cuddling with our breakfast. Brine is my little sister – she was named after her favorite food (brine). Here in the Spam, the section of Area 12 in which I live, everyone’s favorite food is brine, because it’s the only food substance we’re legally allowed to have. We use it to make brine sandwiches, brine salads, brine cheeses, brine bread and, on special occasions, brine wine. Sometimes we use it to pickle things, but because pickling things is illegal (all types of food preservation are illegal in PainEm) nobody names their child Pickles.
Gently, I pull Brine’s arm away from the cat. It’s scrawny, almost as scrawny as I am. Its hair is matted and tangled and falling out from malnutrition – another way it resembles me – and in her bald spots I can see that her skin is the color of ash and brine. My stomach grumbles at the sight. Other than brine, ash is the most plentiful food in the Spam. It fills the air, spewed by the smokestacks from the ash factories where most of the adults in the Spam work. It’s not really food, actually, but we’re so poor in Area 12 that we take what we can get.
The cat moans softly as I pick her up. Her skin is covered in oozing sores that will impart extra savory flavors.
I stroke her head a few times. She’s so sickly that she can barely keep her eyes open. I think that’s kind of endearing as I gently snap her neck. The cat lets out a cute little whine, and then its bowels evacuate. I collect this precious bounty in a bucket – it will make a wonderful poo-ding dessert – and then I place the cat’s festering body in the pot of boiling water.
I suppose I’m not good for much, except I can cook. It’s something I learned from my dad, who died of a combination of diphtheria, malnutrition, hepatitis-14, and being pushed into a kettle of boiling brine. I was so distraught over his death that I was barely able to eat any of him.
As I was saying, I can cook. I can cook anything. Well, anyone can cook anything I guess, but I can cook anything and make it palatable and nourishing. I can turn diseased, scabies-covered cat into a heart-healthy stew that will feed my family for an entire week. That’s what I’m doing now, with the cat that Brine brought home for us. I remember when she brought the cat home last night, she said, “Look at this cat I found! Doesn’t she look delicious? I can’t wait to see what Kantmiss does with her!” Actually, she was so weak from hunger that she didn’t so much say that as whisper it hoarsely.
I can cook, just like my father. He used to say, “We’ll never go hungry. As long as one of us can move their bowels and draw a little blood, we’ll never go hungry.” His favorite dish to prepare was his famous Blood Poo-ding Soup.
I miss my father. Sometimes, when I burp, I think of him fondly.
Slowly, Brine awakens. As she rises, her stomach growls, and the sound it makes is like the sound of the shift bell ringing at the ash factory. “Where’s Pussy?” she asks, sleepily.
I point to the pot. Tempting odors have already started to rise from it. “Oh, we’re going to eat my Pussy?” she asks, excited.
“Yes,” I nod, equally excited by the prospect.
Our mother, Whatshername, walks in. Actually, because she’s so weak from hunger, she doesn’t so much walk in as crawl feebly. “I smell Pussy,” she says, dreamily. Actually, because she’s so weak from hunger, she doesn’t so much say this as mouth the words pathetically. She’s never been the same since dad died. She changed. She became different. It was like she was someone else. When they’d been together, she’d been one way. But now that he was dead, she was no longer that one way. She was another way.

I don’t know how to describe it. I’m a very good cook. I kind of stink as a writer.
“This must be our special meal, in honor of The Reaming,” she says, taking a big whiff of Cat Stew.
Yes. The Reaming. I’d be remiss if I didn’t explain how those of us in the various Areas get Reamed by the Capitol, in PainEm.
The Reaming is the process by which contestants are chosen for the Hungry Game. Basically, in each of the 12 Areas outside the Capitol, all residents between the ages of 12 and 19 are eligible to participate. Participation is on a voluntary basis, but everyone between those ages is forced to volunteer. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound very voluntary to me, but I’m so weak from hunger all the time I can’t think straight. All I ever think about is how hungry I am, and how my stomach hurts all the time, and how that emptiness in my stomach feels like an actual presence, like there’s actually something inside my stomach. In a way, it’s sort of like being full all the time, but in another way, it’s nothing like that at all. It’s more like being hungry all the time.
Um. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah – the Hungry Game: All the eligible boys and girls have their names written on lots, and those lots are selected at random, and one boy and one girl from each of the 12 Areas is selected to participate. It’s sort of like that short story from so long ago. It was a story about a lottery. It was written by Shirley Jackson. I can’t remember the name of the story.
And now I’d be remiss if I didn’t explain the Hungry Game.
A generation ago, or two generations ago, or maybe more (we’re so hungry here we easily lose track of time), PainEm used to be called Nor-America. There, food was so plentiful that people had access to it all the time. There were places called “fast food restaurants” where people could just walk in off the street and get food made from meaty creatures called “cows” in the blink of an eye. In their homes, people had devices called “refrigerators,” where they kept exotic-sounding things like “pizza rolls,” and “fish sticks,” and “Pupperoni.”
The people took advantage of their access to this extravagant, plentiful food. And as a result, they all came down with a disease called “obesity,” so the top government official at the time, who was called The First Lady, declared martial law, and took away the “fast food restaurants” and “refrigerators,” and banned the use of food processing and preservation techniques. These conveniences had made the population lazy, she claimed, so from that point on, only natural, local, organic foods were legal. That way, everyone would eat only foods they needed, not the foods they wanted, and they’d be healthier and start losing weight.
Then, there was the financial catastrophe.
At the same time everyone was catching obesity, there used to be something called “money,” which was basically just scraps of paper that were supposedly valuable. Those who had the most of those pieces of paper were considered to be the best. But, when they didn’t have enough of these slips of paper, they would borrow some. Everyone did this, from The First Lady all the way down to the lowliest freelance writer. Pretty soon there was so much “debt” that the only way to repay it all was to just create a lot more of it. But then there was so much of this “money” that nobody believed in its value anymore, so people started to riot and loot in the streets. The First Lady crushed the rebellion from the Capitol, and the country is now called PainEm, as I already said. And now every year, in celebration of our new, healthier, obesity-free world, we have this yearly cooking competition, which is what the Hungry Game is.
And, oh yeah, the losers all die.
“So, anyway, The Reaming,” Mother says, pulling me out of my reverie. “That’s today. Are you girls excited?”
Her question is ironic. Everyone in the Spam is so weak from hunger that we can’t get excited. The most we can muster is vague ambivalence, and that’s only if something amazing happens, like that one time when that one thing happened back then, I can’t remember because I’m so hungry all the time and it’s made me kind of forgetful.
Maybe it’ll come to me at some point.
“Sure,” I say. Actually, this day is more ambivalent than most, since it’s the first year that Brine’s been eligible to participate. Owing to the almost comically complicated procedure used to determine the number of chances each person has of being selected, Brine’s name will only appear once in the Reaming kettle, while my name will appear 635 times. It has to do with all the extra brine we’ve been getting – more brine for more lots.
The important thing is that little Brine’s only got one chance of being selected for the Game, while I have 635 chances to be selected. So, if either of us is picked, it will probably be her, because I’m so light-headed from hunger that I don’t understand basic statistics.
“I think I’ll go forage for something else for the Pussy Stew,” I say, leaving the house. Outside, I see children gnawing the plaster on the side of our house. I kick them and shout, “Stop eating our house!” and head out into the Spam.
I walk past rows of people standing around with their heads tilted back and mouths open, waiting for something, anything that might be edible to fall from the sky. Unfortunately, because of The Reaming, even the Ash Factory is closed today, so they won’t even get a taste of precious ash. Perhaps if they get lucky, a bird will fly by and poo in their mouths.
“Hello, Can’t-miss,” I hear from my left. I turn and see my friend Glea. As he walks toward me, he pulls a pimple off his cheek and pops it into his mouth, savoring the sweet, flavorful juice. I’m so dehydrated that not even this image can make my mouth water.
“I told you, my name is Kantmiss,” I say, smiling. Glea calls me “Can’t-miss Everdear.” He thinks this is so funny, although it makes no sense to me, because my name is Kantmiss Everclear, and it’s pronounced “Racha Elray.” Like many who live in the Spam, Glea is too hungry to have developed a decent sense of humor.
“Sure,” he says, falling in line beside me. Glea is two years older than me, and almost my equal as a cook, but I’m not sure how I feel about him. Part of this is obviously because I’m too hungry to think straight, and part of this is because I’m a 16 year-old girl whose body is going through a lot of hormonal and emotional changes. I’m often confused by my own feelings. For instance, when I first got my period I thought, “Oh, good, here’s something else I can use to flavor my soup.” Then I thought, “Oh, darn it, now I’m practically a grown up woman.”
Also, I’m not sure how Glea feels about me. Sometimes he gives me signals that he wants to kiss me on the cheek, and sometimes he slaps me. Actually, owing to his constant hunger, he’s too fatigued to slap me, so it’s more of a fluttering of his hands.
“Look at what I’ve got,” he says, proudly. He produces a small plastic container in which I can see tiny droplets of moisture.
“What is it?” I ask, questioningly.
“They’re my tears!” he says, triumphantly. “When I woke this morning, I was so miserable with hunger that I was actually crying. So I got this plastic container and I collected them.”
I lick my lips. His tears look delicious.
“I was thinking, after The Reaming, I could come over to your place and we could cook them up and eat them,” he says.
“That would be wonderful,” I say. “They’ll go so well with the cat stew I’m making.”
“Cat stew!” he gasps, then quickly puts his hands over his mouth. Eating anything other than brine is illegal in all Areas outside the Capitol, so if any of the Placators hear you talking about making cat stew, they’ll break into your house without a warrant, beat you, arrest you, ask you for a bribe, and beat you, in that order. Also, they’ll confiscate your stew. So we must be careful. Now, Glea’s voice is a whisper: “Cat stew!” he whispers, then kisses me on the cheek.
“What was that for?” I ask, blushing. I wonder if he’s in love with me.
“Sorry,” he says. “I was trying to slap you, but I’m so weak from hunger that I couldn’t lift my hands, so I tried to slap you with my lips.” And then he smiles.
“Oh,” I say. But that’s not how I feel.
When we see the mayor’s daughter, Smidge, Glea quickly puts the plastic container of tears under his coat. In the process, he disturbs a flea, which he quickly pops into his mouth.
“Yum,” Smidge says. “I wish I had a flea to eat. But my parents won’t let me go more than a day without bathing, so I never have enough filth on myself to grow them.”
It might sound like she’s bragging, but Smidge is actually okay. It’s not her fault she’s so wealthy that she can afford to wear clothes that aren’t made out of spare nutria hair, and can bathe more than once every two weeks.
“You look nice, Smidge,” I say. “Even if you’re not flea-ridden.”
“Thanks,” she says, sighing. “Are you two ready for the Reaming?”
“The what?” Glea asks.
Smidge says, “Oh, that’s funny that you’re pretending to forget that today is the day of The Reaming, which is the biggest day of the year.”
Dazedly, Glea says, “Actually, I’m so weak from hunger I really did forget what The Reaming was. What is it again?”
So I explain to him about The Reaming and the Hungry Game, and all the history of PainEm. But since I already explained what they were earlier, while I was boiling the cat, I won’t go into it again. Besides, explaining things is so exhausting.

Soon it is time for the Reaming. Everyone from Area 12 met in the town square. The Placators walked through the crowd, making sure that everyone had a smile on their face. Those who were too weak from hunger to actually smile were given tape to place on their faces, to hold up the corners of their mouths. Most people were pretending to be too weak to smile, and then eating the tape, and then pretending to not be able to smile so they could get more tape to eat. Occasionally, however, the mouth tape wasn’t enough, and people would try to eat the PainEm Food Channel cameras filming the entire proceeding.
The Reaming we were getting from the Capitol was supposed to be a cause for grateful celebration, and if we weren’t sufficiently happy about it we’d be severely punished. Like, our children would be forced to participate in a deadly cooking competition in the Capitol.
On the stage, the perky Sondra Leer, Area 12’s official escort, stood before the microphone. She was the host of Area 12’s only cooking show, “Semi-Edible with Sondra Leer.” She was also the girlfriend or wife or something of the mayor. She was annoying, and her show was crap. Every episode she made basically the same dish: Brine-with-something. Sometimes she makes brine and sticks. Sometimes she makes brine and twigs. Sometimes she makes brine and toe jam. She isn’t really a cook, but that’s mostly okay, since most people in Area 12 are too poor to afford even sticks and twigs.
The problem is that no one from Area 12 has won a Hungry Game in 40 years, and all her show ever teaches us to cook is brine and twigs. Last year’s Area 12 contestants were both eliminated during the first cooking challenge because they were emulating Sondra’s “making stuff by combining random elements without any rhyme or reason” formula, and the judges were a lot more sophisticated than that.
Anyway, she was wearing the heavy makeup, thigh-high boots and fishnet stockings, short skirt, and peroxide blond hair she usually wore on her show. She had an invitingly bubbly personality, and a way of speaking that made you feel like she really thought you were amazing. “Happy Hungry Game!” she called out. “And may your flavors ever give you great odds!”
“I’ll give you flipping odd flavors!” a voice cries out. At that, Chef Gorton Reamsy, stumbles onto the stage. Because he’s the only person from Area 12 ever to actually win a Hungry Game, he’s well taken care of, and always has enough brine to eat. Also, he is given an allowance of some supposedly wonderfully delicious food called Alpo, so it’s not weakness from hunger that causes him to stumble. It’s just that he’s a punchy, loudmouthed jerk. Also, he drinks a lot of fermented brine.
He presses a glass of brine in Sondra’s hand and kisses her on the cheek. “Oh, aren’t you just the sweetest li’l thing in the whole wide world!” she says. Although her voice sounds perky, she has a look of contempt on her face. She composes herself and then says into the microphone, “Let’s get this started, shall we? Ladies first!”
In the pit of my stomach I feel intense hunger. Also, I feel nauseated. I’m so nervous I think I might throw up, which would be a good thing because then I’d have something to eat later. But I can’t throw up because I’m holding my breath – I and everyone else in the Spam. To myself I say, “I hope it’s not my name that gets drawn,” over and over again.
Sondra withdraws the name from the kettle, and then walks back over to the microphone. I’m still repeating “I hope it’s not my name that gets drawn,” and so is every other girl in Area 12. It’s sort of like a chant, kind of like, um, that one time when you hear that sound you hear sometimes, like a dull droning sound, I can’t remember what it is because I’m too hungry.
Sondra reads the name on the slip of paper. I’m so hungry I can’t hear whose name it is.

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