#9- The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

And the play adaptation, also by Arthur Phillips, at the Guerilla Shakespeare Project

What’s It About: Okay okay. So this book is kinda acting under the “hey, I’m a false book” shtick. Arthur Phillips, the character not the author…except they’re supposedly the same… but they’re not… ANYWAYS, Arthur Phillips is a somewhat reputable and quite personally troubled novelist providing a  introduction to a LONG LOST Shakespeare play called ‘The Tragedy of Arthur.’ Arthur’s con-man father claims to have uncovered the play in his con-man whereabouts and has left it in his will Arthur under the condition that he MUST publish it. Arthur’s father swears up and down that the play is real. Forensics and Shakespeare scholars and publishers also agree it’s real. Trouble is, Arthur doesn’t. And now he’s unwillingly publishing what he believes to be a hoax, using his introduction to present his case. Or is he just resentful of his terrible father and, by Freudian displacement, Shakespeare? Daddy issues ensue. Continue reading “#9- The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips”

#6- Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez

What’s It About: Jay Gatsby wouldn’t last a day a East Harlem.

Why: One high school class I observed is reading this book right after reading Gatsby and I like to show off to readers ages 13-17.

Thoughts:I really loved this intriguing, modern re-telling of Gatsby. Not only is this book’s Gatsby (the titular Willie Bodega) a self-made, drug-dealing, millionaire… he’s also a passionate social rights activist for the poor and forsaken of East Harlem. This makes his connection to the “new” American Dream, that of the immigrant, the zoned, the voiceless, all the more significant. And though its concept is Gatsby 101, there are enough twists and energetic storytelling to make this a thrilling page-turner.

#1-5 The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn

New Year, New Books!

What’s It About: A series of five novels, each portraying a short period of time at different points in protagonist Patrick Melrose’s life. We start with a seven year-old Patrick’s traumatic experience at his family’s villa in the French countryside, and journey on through drugs, funerals, marriage, more drugs, shamanic religions, dinner parties with the worst people you will ever read about (and some of the tensest conversations), did I say drugs?, philosophical musings on identity, and lots of crazy money-spending.

Why: Everyone (aka the New York Times) loves this series, say it’s a must-read, and blablabla. Plus the author looks like a British Patrick Bateman.

I’m coming for Bret Easton Ellis next…

Thoughts: St. Aubyn’s strength really lies in his phenomenal dialogue. Book 1 (Never Mind) was my favorite, basically because it was one big dinner party full of “oh-no-he-didn’t” and “holy crap!” moments. It’s witty, sharp, and a really astute portrait of a flailing aristocracy. Book 2 (Bad News) was also a great read, particularly the sections that riffs off of Patrick’s  drug-induced multiple personalities. The rest of his style is sometimes a little heavy-handed, but accessible and, for the most part, genuine. There are also lots of enjoyable characters (most of whom you love to hate). By the end, however, I wasn’t quite sure what I took away from the saga and what Patrick had really learned through his experiences.

Each novel is short (I’m a sucker for conciseness) and hella-fun, though, so go read and be merry!

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