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My Name Is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare
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My Name Is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare

4.3 14
by Jess Winfield
 

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"Utterly delicious, original, witty, hilarious and brilliant. Shakespeare In Love on magic mushrooms. The Bard has never been this much fun."
-Christopher Buckley, author of Boomsday and Thank You For Smoking

Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of. Having

Overview

"Utterly delicious, original, witty, hilarious and brilliant. Shakespeare In Love on magic mushrooms. The Bard has never been this much fun."
-Christopher Buckley, author of Boomsday and Thank You For Smoking

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.

Editorial Reviews

Liesl Schillinger
Heavens to Murgatroyd! What could William Shakespeare, bard of Avon, possibly have in common with the cartoon characters Lilo and Stitch, Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear? If you read My Name Is Will, a lusty, pun-drunk first novel by the professional wiseacre and award-winning cartoon producer Jess Winfield (who had a hand in the above-mentioned entertainments), you will indubitably find out. But be "vewwy, vewwy careful," as one of Winfield's characters (a Shakespeare expert!) warns a wayward student, mimicking the immortal Elmer Fudd. Many of the gags are what Hanna-Barbera's hammy mountain lion Snagglepuss would call "abdomenable"…Still, if you're up for the lark and could use a comedies-and-tragedies refresher, you might want to invest in a slide whistle and a cowbell before you start reading, to give the goings-on the Looney Tunes accompaniment they deserve.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The two narratives in Winfield's whimsical debut are unified by their shared irreverence, humor and literary gusto. The first tale is of Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, a grad student trying to prove in his hastily conceived thesis that Shakespeare was a closeted Catholic. Short on cash, stoner Willie agrees to mule a superpsychedelic mushroom and a pound of weed to a couple of Renaissance Faire enthusiasts, all the while nursing his infatuation with Dashka Demitra, his sexy thesis adviser. Willie's journey is interspersed with accounts of the other Shakespeare as he, in the months leading up to his wedding, has run-ins with hallucinatory substances and comely women while delivering a secret package to a Catholic dissident. Willie's a lovable schlemiel whose clumsy strides toward attaining a genuine understanding of Shakespeare's work mirror in many ways the Bard's quest to become the great playwright we now study. 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. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Forget the sex and drugs. Was Shakespeare a closet Catholic? That's the big issue in this first novel from Winfield, founder of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. The story alternates between two protagonists in different centuries. In 1582, the 18-year-old Shakespeare is teaching Latin at his old school in Stratford while sowing his wild oats: The sex is lusty but brief and generic. A mysterious horseman asks the young teacher to deliver a box to his former teacher, the Catholic John Cottom, whose brother has been imprisoned. This will be Shakespeare's mission, and it becomes clear his family is indeed Catholic, keeping a low profile to avoid persecution. Meanwhile in Reagan-era California, at UC-Santa Cruz, 25-year-old Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is "working" on his master's thesis about Shakespeare and Catholicism. In fact, Willie has done no research; he is a serious hash smoker, living off his dad, a Berkeley professor, and sowing his own wild oats. Willie has a mission too: to deliver a psychedelic mushroom and some baggies to his contacts at a mock-Elizabethan hippie fair. Juxtaposing the salad days of a world-famous playwright with those of a stoned nobody invites bathos, especially when Shakespeare faces far more serious dangers, as a gruesome account of the martyred Edmund Campion reminds us. Caught humping on the estate of a vicious Protestant squire, he gets a taste of the lash and the rack; all Willie gets is a few hours in a campus cell. And so it continues. Shakespeare uses a priest's hideaway to escape the squire's vigilantes, while feckless Willie must eat his own mushroom (and lose the sale) to avoid capture by DEA agents. It's all meant as good rollicking fun, ofcourse, and Shakespeare gets a time-travel broomstick ride to equal Willie's mushroom trip, but too often the story falls flat. A mildly entertaining romp that's thrown out of whack by the religious-persecution theme. Agent: Ellen Levine/Trident Media Group
Joanne Wilkinson - Booklist
[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.
New York Sun
"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."
Bloomberg.com
"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!
LA Times
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."
New York Times
"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 . . . "
Michael Musto
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
Pia Lindstrom
Fresh, energetic and funny. A wild and silly frolic.
NBC
Joanne Wilkinson
[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.
Booklist
Michael Musto - New York Daily News
"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."
Pia Lindstrom - NBC
"Fresh, energetic and funny. A wild and silly frolic."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446508858
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
07/08/2008
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

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.

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My Name Is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
8MDR9 More than 1 year ago
A truly excellent book. Perfect for any Shakespeare enthusiast, (or reader ready for a "trip"). Provides imaginative context for one of the greatest bodies of literary work ever written, and makes it relevant to yet another generation.
MrPotter07 More than 1 year ago
I have to say that I LOVED this book! Not only was it hysterical and entertaining and simply fun to read, but it was well researched, compelling, and well written. The two lives of the different Will's were singularly interesting and then before you knew it, they became one. It was fascinating. Well done, Mr. Winfield; I think I might have a new favorite book! :)
astucity More than 1 year ago
My Name is Will was a most pleasant surprise. It was like a present at the holidays where you weren't expecting much but then you open the box and it wowed you. Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, or Will, is a student that was just cut off from his father. No more money for tuition or to live on, so when he finds this extremely odd shaped "magic mushroom" growing in a cow field he was reluctant to take the offer of selling it. That was until Will find out just how broke he was with no prospect of money coming in anytime soon. Will's life also has another factor that makes this book interesting; it parallels his namesake's, the Bard of Avalon, on a lot of different levels. Another point that makes this a great read is that you see Shakespeare from a totally different aspect. A lover, a playboy, but most of all just a fed up man hiding his Catholicism beliefs in Queen Elizabeth's reign. This book is sexy, has a great intellectual humor factor about it, and dangerous. Definitely one that I'll keep on my shelf for a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So witty, so much fun, I giggled through many, many parts. Enjoyable for all and especially for those with a love for Shakespeare.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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spv More than 1 year ago
My Name Is Will : A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare Jess Winfield I don't know what is wrong. I have tried listening to this book. I have tried reading this book and I just cannot get into it. I've even tried different times of the day and night. I do wish I could tell you what is wrong but I can't. I wish I could give this first time author some constructive critism, but I can't. Maybe it is just not my cup of tea. Or maybe I am stuck in William's time and not ready for Will's time. (Also, though I was in college in the 60's, I was a real square... not tuned in at all!) So far, I am this is the only negative review I have read. So go find a good excerpt, read it, and then decide for yourself. And, Jess, if you see this, I'm sorry I can't give you more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gl More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: Set simultaneously in California in 1986 and in England in 1582, My Name is Will introduces us to two young William Shakespeares. Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, a graduate student in UC Santa Cruz, hasn't been focused on his thesis on William Shakespeare. Instead, he occupies himself with drugs, women, and agrees to deliver a large psychedelic mushroom to a client at a Renaissance Fair. While evading DEA operatives, Willie juggles his longtime girl friend in UC Berkeley, his sexy teaching assistant in UC Santa Cruz and a few willing women along the way. While in 1582, William Shakespeare is an eighteen-year-old Latin teacher busy with women, drink and drugs. Shakespeare is also beginning to flirt with writing and Winfield gives us glimpses of the seeds of famous speeches, plays, and sonnets. Around young Will, the persecution of Catholics is on the rise. Family members, teachers and friends, and even Shakespeare himself are at risk as the local sheriffs hunt for practicing Catholics. Despite the danger, Shakespeare agrees to deliver a sacred relic from Rome to the family of an executed priest. Review: Full of double entendres and puns, this is Jess Winfield's debut novel and makes full use of Winfield's deep knowledge of Shakespeare and his experience in the Reduced Shakespeare Company. "A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare" describes it well. My Name is Will is quirky, funny, silly, sexy, and well executed. Publisher: Twelve, Reprint edition (July 3, 2009), 320 pages.
lost_in_a_book More than 1 year ago
The subtitle of the book says it all, the book truly is an entertaining, "Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare."
Bella_Quileute More than 1 year ago
This is a great first novel! It is funny, literate, thrilling, and just plain fun! It brings Shakespeare to life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago