Ken's Reviews > My Name is Will

My Name is Will by Jess Winfield
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's review
Aug 24, 2008

liked it
Recommended for: Shakespeare fans and grad students.
Read in August, 2008

My Name is Will presents a parallel narrative in alternating chapters. One story line follows Willie Shakespeare Greenburg, a slacker, pothead graduate student at California-Santa Cruz as he (sort of) works on his master's thesis which will advance the thesis, based on one line of one sonnet, that Shakespeare was Catholic.

The second story line follows William Shakespeare as he negotiates the difficulties of growing up in his parents' home, reflects on the Catholicism of his mother's family and the persecution Catholics in Stratford face, and reacts to the news that Anne Hathaway is pregnant with his child.

Winfield (who, along with two others, founded the Reduced Shakespeare Company and co-wrote The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged) parallels the two stories nicely throughout the novel. Sex and drugs, as the title suggests, appear throughout the book, sometimes graphically, and sometimes, for me, a little over-the-top. But Winfield knows his Shakespeare, and presents realistic characters in both Willie and William.

Winfield says that his Shakespeare story-line is not meant to be true, that he only wishes to present a plausible possibility, and I think he succeeds in that. I enjoyed reading this book. It is never dull, and if I enjoyed William Shakespeare's story more than Willie S. Greenburg's, well, I don't suppose that is a surprise.
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