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My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare    by Jess Winfield Amazon.com order for
My Name is Will
by Jess Winfield
Order:  USA  Can
Twelve, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

My Name Is Will has the humor you would expect from Jess Winfield, one of the founding members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company (who created the hit play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)). It also has a political message, as well as one about growing up.

William 'Willie' Shakespeare Greenberg is, as his name indicates, a student of Shakespeare. However, Willie is not getting very far with his Master's thesis because he spends his time getting high while getting girls. When his father cuts off his money, Willie agrees to run a gigantic psychedelic mushroom to the Renaissance Faire, knowing full well that President Reagan's DEA agents are lurking everywhere. Willie's drug problems parallel the historical Shakespeare's problems with religion. Coming from a Catholic family during the time of Elizabeth I and the rise of the Church of England, Will Shakespeare has to be careful who he talks to (and whom he beds). Soon, he has the Queen's agents on his tail and an unwanted wife. When the lives of the two William Shakespeares blend for one afternoon, each is left knowing where his life needs to lead.

My Name Is Will is a fun read like no other. The way Winfield parallels the lives of the two protagonists is ingenious. But what is even more amazing is Winfield's skill with Elizabethan wordplay that will leave the reader laughing. Although there were some minor anachronistic spots (in the 1980s part not sure about the Elizabethan part), they can be forgiven in this wild romp of a debut novel. Both fans of Shakespeare and fans of political satire will find plenty to enjoy in My Name Is Will. Jess Winfield clearly shows that his comic genius can transcend from the stage to the page.

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