Wednesday, January 07, 2009


My Name is Will, Jess Winfield, Hachette Book Group, 2008, 288 pp

The subtitle of this mildly entertaining story is "A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare." There is plenty of sex, drugs are in abundance and there are two Shakespeares. A young William Shakespeare is coming of age, learning about persecution (his family is Catholic) and wenching, while he writes his first poetry and hangs out with wannabe actors and playwrights.

Simultaneously runs the story of Will Shakespeare Greenburg, slacker grad student at UC Santa Cruz, who gets himself involved with too many women, certain drug deals which play out at a Renasissance Faire near Berkeley, CA and tries to write a masters thesis on his namesake.

The author attempts a comparison of the religious troubles in 16th century England with the War on Drugs in 1980s USA. He comes up with many zany characters who are the highlight of the book. The female characters are all strong and wise to the ways of men and the world.

Winfield spent his early adult years with the Reduced Shakespeare Company, who abridge Shakespeare and other writers, turning them into comedy. (There is an example of this in the book.) He went on to write and produce cartoons for Disney. This career path is evident in My Name is Will and if nothing else, he makes the infamous bard accessible.

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