Where IS Shakespeare?

Kill Shakespeare Volume 1 by Conor McCreery,  Anthony Del ColAndy Belanger

Rating: 2 out of 5.

What Fables does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare.

Book blurb

I have been eyeing Fables for a while. This blurb has me worried about it.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not quite dead yet… I expected this to be a ploy about killing Shakespeare. Instead, we delve into Hamlet…

And then—surprise!—we switch to a different play. And several others after that. 

And that ploy materialized after all. However, at the end of Chapter One I was not terribly interested in the story. I put it aside and felt no urge to pick it up again, then read a bit more and skimmed myself through most of Chapter Two. Nope. Not for me. Boring. DNF at 40%.

The artwork is nothing special, just ok. I was not enamored with the way many of the female characters were drawn.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION MEME

Welcome to #6Degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I am using this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here.

How the meme works and how you can join is explained here. The blog post about this month‘s choice is here.

This month‘s book is:

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

No, I haven‘t read this book and don‘t plan to do so at the moment. I did listen to an audio version of The Tempest last year though and listened to Sir Patrick Stewart reading the sonnets on Instagram though. I read Hamlet a very long time ago, but never wrote a review.

So where does that lead me in this meme? To another historical novel and another child—although this one didn‘t die…

Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt, #1)
by Frank McCourt

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

From the beginning of the book

I read this a little while after it was published. Pretty sure I reviewed it as well, no idea where that review disappeared to. I remember liking this telling of McCourt‘s poverty-ridden and unhappy childhood in Ireland. I am pretty sure I read the sequel as well. Other than that my mind is a blank, unfortunately.

Thoughts on a grim childhood lead me to this:

Night
by Elie Wiesel

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family…the death of his innocence…and the death of his God.

From the book blurb

Well written, very clear and stark prose. I found it a little hard to emphasize with the character, as his style was so sober, almost detached from the horiffic things happening to him.

A little less grim, if still not an account of a happy childhood:

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years. 

First paragraph of the book

A beautiful book! Just the ending gets a bit too frantic for its own good, I don’t think it quite fits with the rest of the book. But still, well worth reading and a lot more gripping than I expected.
The beginning is a fairly typical coming of age story and just when it all slowed down and I started to loose interest, something unexpected happened and we were off again to a new development in the storyline. That happened several times.
The beginning of the story is definitely the most poetic part, but I also loved the part with the weekly market and Amir meeting Soraya. What happens at the end is not a great surprise, but still very good! I was crying on page 299….

From Pakistan to Japan, the next not so happy life story is this:

Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sayuri’s story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. 

From the book blurb

This one was not a winner for me. Very much a take-it-or-leave-it experience. My mother gave this to me as a present, shortly after it had come out. The story did not really interest me, so I was off to a bad start. It was just ok. Nothing really gripped me, it was predictable, average. I don’t understand why it was on the bestseller lists for so long. Watch the movie instead!

From one woman to the next:

The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant

Rating: 5 out of 5.

That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions when I was remembered, it was as a victim. Near the beginning of your holy book, there is a passage that seems to say I was raped and continues with the bloody tale of how my honor was avenged. 

From the first page of the book

Story of Dinah, Book of Genesis, daughter of Jacob, sister of Joseph. Dinah tells us the story of her 4 mothers and her whole extended tribe, including all those brothers, who will eventually sell off her baby brother into slavery to Egypt.

But this is really more about the life of all the women in her father’s camp. The Red Tent is the place where they rest during their menstruation and where they recuperate from their daily toil. Here they enjoy life, tell stories and show us how women fared in biblical times.

Definitely a book for the girls. I am not sure if a man would like this? I enjoyed it a lot.

And this, very weirdly, leads me to another woman‘s childhood and life, set also very far in the past. I know, this doesn‘t really fit the other books, but it‘s where I ended up:

The Clan of the Cave Bear
by Jean M. Auel

Rating: 4 out of 5.

…we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear

From the book blurb

I read this as teenager and I have been toying with the idea of re-reading it. I liked it. I remember the setting and Ayla‘s struggle to fit into her new tribe and the brutal conflict with the character set to become the clan‘s new leader.

So, that took us from Shakespeare‘s England to Ireland, Poland, Pakistan and Japan to biblical times and finally to the time of the Neanderthals, chronicling mostly bad experiences of children and woman in those stories…

October Wrap-up

BR novels:
– Monstress, Vol. 5, comic, ★★★★★, siege of a city, war, revelations about the past. This was good, although different to the previous ones. More of an ensemble cast and more focused on setting up the scene for that siege and the war that will probably pick up speed in the next volume.
– Dragonquest, paper, ★★★★★, fun 2nd Dragonriders book. Fire-lizards! I enjoyed this a lot and it was much better than I remembered it.
– The Only Good Indians, audio, ★★☆☆☆, revenge, indigenous people, hunting. Carry-over from last month. There were some good parts in this. Some of it I even liked. It just didn‘t come together well. 
– The Ministry for the Future: A Novel, ebook, Netgalley, ★★☆☆☆, DNF at 56%, climatefic, too little plot, more a collection of essays, too much economics, blockchain, weird surrealistic meta-fic somethings. The plot that was there, I liked. The rest bored me silly.

Ongoing BR:
– The Doors of Eden, audio, featured BR, 6 hours left, will finish in November… Good so far, I like it. Tchaikovsky writes well and is great at world-building. I have to get to his back catalogue one of these days.

Planned BR, but didn‘t read:
– The Butterfly Garden, ebook, didn‘t manage to squeeze it in and after reading a friend‘s review I am not sure if I want to. Postponed.

Solo reads:
– Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory, short, ★★★★☆, intermezzo for Mensah and Murderbot 
– Shakespeare’s Sonnets, poetry, ★★★★☆, read-along with Sir Pat on Instagram.
– BLAME! Vol. 4, manga, ★★★★☆, fighting and exploring the megastructure.

Plans for November:

BR novels:
– The White Dragon — started already! Fun!
– Phoenix Extravagant, netgalley 
– Conventionally Yours, netgalley — romance readers
– Great Expectations, read-along on wordpress — this will be postponed, month tbc

Poem a day

Shakespeare’s Sonnets
by William Shakespeare

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sir Patrick Stewart, lovely man, read Shakespeare’s sonnets on Instagram, one a day, starting in March 2020. It took a while. It was lovely to listen to his gorgeous voice and very relaxing. He must be the most adored man in social media. 

I did not listen to him daily, but rather had a peek now and then. I liked that Jonathan Frakes checked in one day and read a sonnet, too. And Ian McKellen visited for SirPatStew‘s 80st birthday.

I definitely need to revisit this at some point, as I haven‘t read or listened to enough of these sonnets. WIP.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Kindle Edition)
by William Shakespeare

Sir Patrick Stewart, lovely man, reads Shakespeare’s sonnets on Instagram, one a day. This will take a while. Just mentioning it again, in case you haven’t noticed. Lovely to listen to his gorgeous voice and very relaxing. He must be the most adored man in social media right now. 

So, today Sir Pat read that most famous sonnet #18. I didn‘t know that‘s what it‘s called, but I recognized it right away. Lovely!

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; 

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st; 

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 


Sir Patrick on Instagram today

My daily dose of Zen…

Sir Patrick Stewart, a seemingly lovely man, started to read Shakespeare’s sonnets on Instagram. Just mentioning this, in case you haven’t noticed or aren’t on there… Lovely, really, to listen to his gorgeous voice, even if I sometimes don’t have a clue what he reads… and very relaxing.

Here is today’s offering, sonnet #10:

A Sonnet a Day


For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any,

Who for thyself art so unprovident.

Grant if thou wilt, thou art belov’d of many,

But that thou none lov’st is most evident;

For thou art so possessed with murd’rous hate

That ‘gainst thyself thou stick’st not to conspire,

Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate

Which to repair should be thy chief desire.

O change thy thought, that I may change my mind.

Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?

Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind,

Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove.

  Make thee another self for love of me,

  That beauty still may live in thine or thee


I copied the sonnet from here, where you can also find a useful modern text adaptation.

Rough storm

Listen and watch…

The Tempest

by William Shakespeare

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hell is empty, And all the devils are here.

I am listening/watching this on an app on my iPad. I posted about it a few days ago.

As mentioned there, my main motivation really was to watch Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi read this at me. And the hope of understanding it better. The biggest help for the understanding of the text were the annotations and explanation in the app. 

Very, very good! I recommend this app and if they bring out some other play, I will gladly pay for it and watch/listen, whatever play it might be!

Link to app

For tracking purposes I downloaded a kindle unlimited version as well and re-read some parts there as well.

How familiar am I with Shakespeare? Not very. I watched some movies and I read Hamlet about 30 years ago. The Tempest is a first for me, in any kind of medium, I think. I tracked down a movie version with Helen Mirren, that I will probably watch in the next few days.

I am not going to review the actual play, I am sure everything has been said, that could be written about it. And much more knowledgeably.

McKellen is fantastic as Prospero in the app. 

The instalove is a bit odd. They meet, they like what they see and on the spot decide to get hitched. Ok…

At times I felt the need for a translation into plain, current-day English. Some of the speeches went right over my head.

The motivations of the various characters were not always clear to me. Why did Prospero ‚abjure‘, for example, and forgive everybody?

„How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world

That has such people in’t.“

Is this where Aldous Huxley got the title for his book?

I am sure I will come back to this, re-read and discovery many new things I missed the first time around.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

I am listening/watching this on an app on my iPad. Unabridged, with extras.

CCB61422-3-E85-412-E-8082-7-A885-E47206-A

* A cast of professional Shakespearean actors performing the play
* The full text of The Tempest as published in the First Folio
* A full digital version of Arden Shakespeare The Tempest including full notes and commentary
* A linked historical time line of Shakespeare’s life, his plays, his theatres, and the historical context
* Video talks by both Sir Ian McKellen and Professor Sir Jonathan Bate on characters, themes, and the overall play
* Full breakdowns and explanations of every character with a visual rundown of all their lines across the scenes
* A full “play at a glance” with illustrations and summaries to explain the plot with key quotes and events.
* A history of all the major productions of The Tempest from the 17th century to the present day.
* The ability to make notes, copy and highlight text that can be collected, correlated and exported for later use.

Pretty cool. My main motivation really was to watch Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi read this at me. And the hope of understanding it better.
https://www.heuristicmedia.tv/Heurist…

0-E911-F87-CE34-4-E13-867-D-1-F865-DA17-CFE

For tracking purposes I downloaded a kindle unlimited version as well.

How familiar am I with Shakespeare? Not very. I watched some movies and I read Hamlet about 30 years ago.

More to come…

#StayHome24in48 #StayHome


View all my reviews