Thursday, January 16, 2014
Blog Tour Review: Taking What I Like by Linda Bamber
Date: July 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.)
Reading time: about a week (or a story per day)
From the back of the book: Othello is the only minority member of the Department, so Desdemona, currently serving as Department Chair, is running an affirmative action search. A likely candidate reminds her of Othello in the old days, before he smothered her with a pillow; against her will, she develops a crush on the new guy. Iago gets into the act, stirring up mischief as before. Will it all end in tears once again? Read "Casting Call," one of eight stories in Linda Bamber's new collection, to find out. You'll find yourself caught between laughter and suspense as you encounter these and other familiar characters from Antony and Cleopatra to Henry IV, from Jane Eyre to real-life American artist Thomas Eakins.
My review: The eight stories in this collection are mostly centered on Shakespeare's plays (Othello, the Henriad, As You Like It, Hamlet, and Antony and Cleopatra), along with one story each on Jane Eyre and Thomas Eakins' paintings. I found the first story - the one with the Othello affirmative action department search - the most creative (and humorous) in terms of retelling and drawing on these classic tales, but really, each story is unique in how it pulls in these well-known works and mixes them with current settings and language. There's a great deal of metafiction-y reflections and critical examinations, which for me is what made this book stand out. If you're a Shakespeare, Eakins, or Jane Eyre fan, it's like reading literary and artistic criticism in a fun fictional form. I'd love to see what Bamber would do with other classic works! I found that I tended to enjoy the stories drawing from works with which I am already familiar more than the others, but all were understandable despite any personal lack of background.