“Wow, the Pulitzer Prize—this award is much heavier than it looks,” joked Jonathan D. Adler ’12 during a reading of “The Hunger Pains,” the Harvard Lampoon’s parody of Suzanne Collin’s popular novel “The Hunger Games,” at the Harvard Coop Bookstore on Tuesday.
While the Lampoon did not in fact win a Pulitzer, the parody written by the semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine has been on the New York Times’ bestseller list for three weeks since its publication on Feb. 7.
The book focuses on Kantkiss Neverclean, a sixteen-year-old who takes her sister’s place as a contestant on the Hunger Games, Peaceland’s second highest-rated reality television show. In the excerpt read by Poonster Noah J. Madoff ’12, Neverclean struggles to make sense of the brutality of football, ominous trombone noises, and serenades from a smooth jazz DJ, while simultaneously trying to stay alive and locate her friend Pita.
Lampoon President Owen T. L. Bates ’13 said that the writing process was collaborative.
“We kinda grabbed pieces of paper out of a hat,” he said. “Most of the chapters were written by single members of staff, a few were co-written, and then they were all given to the editors and they completely rewrote everything.”
Other Lampoon writers added that Mad Libs, random word generators, and Siri, the iPhone 4S’s personal assistant, were helpful in times of creative voids.
The Poonsters also treated their audience to a piece titled “The Time Guy” from one of the humor magazine’s most distinguished former members, Conan C. O’Brien ’85.
While fans of “The Hunger Games” might have been quick to follow the “tribute” and “district” references in the parody, others left the reading feeling bewildered.
“I think it was too modern to me,” said attendee Nancy R. Sizer. “I really don’t relate that much with the story, but it was fun to learn about.”