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7/29 What Would Shakespeare Do?

Posted by novoscene on July 29, 2008

If William Shakespeare was a young lad in 1980’s Los Angeles what would he look like? How would he live? Would he still be the literary giant that we’ve come to know and read in high school English? And more importantly, would he get all the hot chicks? These are just some of the issues raised in MY NAME IS WILL: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare, Jess Winfield’s debut novel. The dual narrative comedy follows the life of a struggling, sex crazed, druggie grad student during Reagan Anti-drug years and the story of the original young bard-a struggling, sex crazed, somewhat druggie playwright to be in the late 1500’s.

Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of. Having been cut off by his father for laziness, and desperate for cash, Willie agrees to deliver a single, giant, psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector, only to find himself a target in Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs.

Meanwhile, would-be playwright (and oppressed Catholic) William Shakespeare is eighteen and stuck teaching Latin in the boondocks of Stratford-upon-Avon. The future Bard is asked to deliver a contraband box of sacramental wafers blessed by the Pope at a time when Catholics are being hanged, drawn and quartered as traitors. When 1980s Willie, cornered by DEA agents and one too many girlfriends, eats the giant mushroom at a Renaissance Fair, and 1580s William takes his first communion at his own shotgun wedding, their minds and stories merge–allowing each to become the fully-realized Shakespeare he is destined to be.

Winfield’s been racking up the acclaim and praise and tonight you get to see why as he reads from his new book over at Booksmith on Haight.-kwan

1644 Haight Street, San Francisco


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