Book Review: My Name Is Will by Jess Winfield
William Shakespeare Greenfield is a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz where he spends far more time focusing on drugs and sex than the thesis on Shakespeare that is long over-due for his master’s degree program. William Shakespeare, the glover’s son in Stratford on Avon has more than one mysterious man looking for him. And Jess Winfield, a new novelist, has written a rip-roaring book that chronicles the adventures of the two Wills–in 1582 and 1986, respectively, as both young men face various challenges as they go along.
Some will undoubtedly be mortified by Winfield’s depictions of the future bard of Avon having sex and trying drugs, just like his namesake grad student. But Winfield, co-creator of the hit stage show The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) does a remarkable job of bringing young Shakespeare to life and making the long dead poet and playwright totally relevant to contemporary audiences. Winfield is an adept story teller and My Name Is Will very effectively pivots between the two story lines which come together near the end of the 283 page book in an unusual double chapter wherein no one, including the reader can really say which bit is from 1582 vs 1986.