I sent this to Jess Winfield at his website today:
Subject: So Good I read It Twice!
More slowly the second time, of course, because my initial reaction to My Name is Will as fast vacation reading went something like Whoa! What just happened here? Was that Something? etc.
I wasn’t entirely sure it was, but the suspicion grew.
So I read it again, and sure enough, your book really is that good.
Your reach and your grasp are, almost miraculously, one.
You really do get it all done—and more each time I revisit a passage or the connection between two passages, especially the combo chapter! Yikes.
(Closest to that I’ve ever seen anyone come is when Larry McMurtry has the same scene in All My Friends Are Going to be Strangers and Terms of Endearment, the link being his character Danny Deck.
But to no particular effect, whereas you pull off something Apparently I can't give something zero stars.
This book is drivel.
It starts out promisingly enough, but never rises about mediocre before crash landing in a PortOPotty.
The modern day main character is a lying, cheating, drugaddled wannabe academic unashamedly wasting his parents money while putting forth zero effort in his life.
Yet he manages to find no less than sex with his stepmom, sex on a bus, a threesome AND an orgynone of which involve his girlfriend.
In one book! At the end, apparently some kind of metaphysical, timetraveling, wormholecrashing collision mixes Shakespeare's English world with 1980whatever Novato, CA.
(Also, this is the worst story that ever featured a renaissance faire.
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I wanted to give it 3.
5, but goodreads doesn't give you that option.
Why, you ask, was this such a quandary?
Stuff that puts it in the fours column: unique voices, fun timebending, I learned stuff about Shakespeare (he was a Catholic?!), Winfield does a good job keeping the plot moving, one of the bestwritten sex scenes I've ever read (mind you, I don't read a lot of smut)
Stuff that puts it in the threes column: grad student living off his parent's dime seems old and stale, there's a few plot moves that are so predictable that I had to say "Oh, come on!" out loud, female characters aren't developed enough (except for Shakespeare's sister!).
I ultimately decided on four stars because anyone who can make academic subjects fun and actionfilled deserv ✓ My Name Is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare À What I learned from this book:
* Quoting Shakespeare gets you laid inordinately often
* Being Shakespeare does as well
* Drugs do not impede sexual performance
* Opportunities occur: seize them
Finally, the fault lies most certainly in ourselves.
This book was written with verve, panache, style and wit.
It's light, easytoread, and quite a bit of fun.
And it's even better if you like Shakespeare.
It's something of a subgenre in historical novels these days where the main character bilocates between today and yesteryear.
Imagine Will Shakespeare living in the Hippie era, smoking pot, poking around the Santa Cruz and Berkeley campuses, and trying to avoid trouble but habitually falling into it.
And then there was that other guy, in the literally stinking times of Elizabethan England, who it seemed couldn't catch a break, not least because his wayward Willie kept impregnating the locals.
An imaginative portrait of the Bard, well researched and more than a bit amusing.
It's fitting that I picked up this novel after finishing Hamlet in Purgatory.
Both are concerned with Shakespeare's religious affiliations, but other than that, could not be more different.
It helped, though, to have my memory jogged by Greenblatt's analysis of Catholicism in medieval and Elizabethan England.
It prepared me for the riproaring ride between the two Will Shakespeares that author Jess Winfield creates here: the playwright and Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, a man who understands little about Shakespeare that he doesn't receive under the influence of a Rubik's Cube or psychedelic mushrooms.
For Winfield is telling two stories here: a surmise of what may have happened to make Shakespeare one of the greatest writers who ever lived, and the events surrounding a grad student in 1980s, his struggle to finish (or just plain start) his the
"My Name is Will" is a fast paced romp through the intertwining lives of two Will Shakespeares.
One a grad student in the 1980s, and one the "real deal".
Refreshingly this novel is not a critical study of the Bard.
I enjoyed it for its damned determination to make Shakespeare human.
(The many jabs aimed at the theory of New Criticism were appreciated by this reader.
The novel's two main protagonists have their stories told in alternating chapters, and the switching point of view is easy to follow.
The chapters that focus on the real Shakespeare start with a short paragraph on the history or context.
Chapters with the modern Will start with a quote from one of the real Shakespeare's works.
It is a nice touch.
The text has a nice progression and pace that culminates in a defining moment for both of its God, the 1980s character was so unlikeable.
Another one of those "completely boring, unwashed"I'm being literal here"alwaysstoned, personalityfree guys who somehow has dozens of hot women want to bang him" that men write and seem to think are clever.
And how dare his dad pay for his tuition, room, and meal plan and not also give him money for the drugs he spends literally all his time doing?! I wish there was a joke here that I was missing, that the author didn't expect me to sympathize with and like his character.
I was supposed to be on his side, as least in a "friend who's a fuckup but still a good time" way; instead I kept waiting for him to get hit by a bus.
Also, thanks for the two and half page, totally earnest screed
But then I really didn't.
The story rotated chapters between Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, 1980something, and William Shakespeare, circa 1580; as the story progressed, Willie's tale began to widely detract from what could have been a pretty decent story about the original Shakespeare, a young, 18 year old Bard.
Largely filled with sex and drugs (which normally I'm all about in a fun read), Willie Greenberg's story was one I just didn't care about.
I didn't feel sorry for this wannabe academic, or whether or not he could come up with a convincing thesis topic before his dad cuts him off financially.
Or whether he'd unload a massive 'shroom and a pound of pot at a weird nerd rave Renaissance Faire without getting snitched on by Reagan narcs.
Or that his sometimes girlfriend at Berkley wanted to grab sushi, but he o