My Name Is Will
A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare
By Jess Winfield
(Twelve, Paperback, 9780446508834, 320pp.)
Publication Date: July 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is not living up to his name. It's 1986, and instead of finishing his thesis on the Bard, this grad student is saying "yes" to drugs, bedding coeds, and delivering a giant psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector. Meanwhile (or rather, back in 1582), would-be playwright William Shakespeare is an eighteen-year-old Latin teacher whose world is turned upside down when a stranger entrusts him with a sacred relic from Rome, drawing him into an underground network of Catholic dissidents. When the lives of Willie and William begin to eerily intertwine, their wild misadventures will shape not only the "Shakespeare" each is destined to become...but the very course of history itself.
As a founding member of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Jess Winfield co-created the full-length show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987 and became an international sensation, leading to multiple world tours and engagements. After leaving the RSC, Winfield spent ten years writing and producing award-winning cartoons for the Walt Disney Company. He left Disney to write this, his first novel. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife.
"This irreverent deconstruction of Shakespeare's work makes a dilly of poor Willy. A fantasia of zany energy that throws together Monty Python-ish drag and Mel Brook-ish anything-for-a-laugh gags."
-New York Daily News
"Fresh, energetic and funny. A wild and silly frolic."
"[Winfield] brings an intimate knowledge of the Bard as well as an infectious sense of humor to this witty first novel . . . Bawdy puns, a clever construction, and a deliciously irreverent sense of humor make this debut novel irresistible."
"The two narratives in Winfield's whimsical debut are unified by their shared irreverence, humor and literary gusto... Willie's a lovable schlemiel ... Winfield uses his deep understanding of Shakespeare's work and times (he is a founding member of the Reduced Shakespeare Company) to great effect, and his affection for the material shines throughout."
"Lively, smart, and mature . . .William is utterly convincing as a character: callow and a bit lost, but witty and kind, and fully possessed of the ability to charm or flay with words . . . [In] the chapters on Shakespeare . . . the book comes to life with intelligence, humor, and high stakes."
-New York Sun
"Happily outrageous . . . Winfield delights in puns from low to high ("iamb what iamb"'), and cleverly sprinkles conversations in the earlier age with lines that would later turn up in the plays ... Well done, Winfield!"
Hilarious, fascinating . . . a cunningly witty, frolicsome, time-warping bildungsroman . . . Winfield slings bucketfuls of double-entendres and wily puns, and he slips in hilarious variations on Shakespeare's best-known lines ... Winfield's high-spirited tribute is a celebration of the power of language and story."
"A lusty, pun-drunk first novel by the professional wiseacre and award-winning cartoon producer Jess Winfield . . . to say that Jess Winfield knows his Shakespeare is laughable understatement. Upside down - boy he knows him, inside out, and round and round . . . "
-New York Times