Patrons of the arts will recognize the authors name– none other than Jess Winfield of the Reduced Shakespeare Company.
The fictional story accounts the lives of two Will Shakespeares: the vanguard of verse (or pontif of prose), and that of a mondern-day graduate student who not only bears the Bard’s name, but is a Shakespeare scholar to boot.
Their struggles, weaknesses, and successes are paralleled in a weave that entertains & edifies, at the cost of some historical accuracy. For instance, the two Wills are motivated by having contraband thrust upon them, which each must deliver to its rightful owner. In the first case, the contraband is a Catholic Reliquary in a vigorously Protestant England; in the latter case, a psychodelic mushroom in the age of Reagan’s war on drugs. Great care is taken to incorporate every last detail in comparing the two lives; that the modern should mirror the ancient. This is one of those ideas which sounds good in theory, and then turns out to be terrible in print.
It becomes so predictable and stretched that one is tempted to skip the chapters about the modern Will.
That said, I really did enjoy reading it. It offers easily digestible bits about Shakespeare, Elizabethan England, and mushrooms, all rolled into one.