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Shakespeare Wrote for Money Paperback – December 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934781290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934781296
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I knew nothing about Nick Hornby's monthly "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns in "Believer" magazine until yesterday when I came across this book in my local bookstore, bought it on impulse, and then read it in a couple hours. If you too are unfamiliar with Hornby's column, it was an amiable and often humorous survey of the books Hornby had bought and those he had read the previous month. SHAKESPEARE WROTE FOR MONEY (I guess I somehow missed the source or derivation of that title) is a collection of 15 "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns, the third and last such collection.

SHAKESPEARE WROTE FOR MONEY is on the meager side (131 pages), but that is one of only two criticisms. Hornby's reading interests are diverse and eclectic, and his columns are informal and informative, never stuffy or donnish, and usually both fun and funny. The quality of the last three columns (and this is the second criticism) dropped markedly, as if Hornby was losing interest and motivation, and indeed in the last column he announces that he is quitting the gig. A bonus is the funny and kind introduction from Sarah Vowell, whose humor and style is similar to Hornby's.

Examples of Hornby's (1) wit and (2) insight:

(1) Hornby juxtposes a book about the Band and another about the Stasi: "It goes without saying that the two wires that led me to the books * * * came from different sockets in the soul, and power completely different * * * electrical/spiritual devices: [the books] are as different as a hair dryer and a Hoover. Yes. That's it. I'm the first to admit it when my metaphors don't work, but I'm pretty sure I pulled that one off. (I wish I'd hated them both. Then I could have said that one sucks, and the other blows.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on November 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Shakespeare Wrote For Money" is Nick Hornby's latest and last collection of his "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns from "The Believer Magazine." The format, a monthly informal essay that begins with a list of books bought and a list of those actually read, is conversational and personal. The first collection, "The Polysyllabic Spree" was a winning surprise, turbo charged with Hornby's wit, enthusiasm and authentic warmth for books, his audience and life in general, all delivered in a caffeine-jolted voice. He's the cool kid on the bus who lets us all sit with him. You get the idea he cares what we think. He never apologizes for being punch-drunk in love with reading.

Now at the end of his "Stuff" career, his voice and style are no longer a surprise but remain something to enjoy. He's not bouncing off the walls anymore, which makes one wonder if he's traded to decaf and quit smoking. He takes some breaks, too; and there's one month where football on television became a priority and another when he's reviewing films to vote in the Brit version of the Academy Awards. But when he's on, he's on, as when he wants to wholly admire "On Chesil Beach" but he can't entirely let go an unintentional anachronism author Ian McEwan lets slip in a reference to the Beatles and the Stones. He wonders what's wrong with flinching when reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. This time around (columns from 2006 to his last, September 2008), Hornby discovers, for starters, a wonderland in Young Adult novels, chats up his brother-in-law's books because they deserve it, and notes how many recent books are devoted to particular years, like "1599: A Year in the Life of Shakespeare."

I came away with some titles to follow up on and a lot of fun conversation from the other side of the pond. I don't blame him for moving on, but I'll miss these columns.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Anderson on October 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered Nick Hornby by accident when I picked up the The Polysyllabic Spree, the first of the three collections of his book criticism originally written for the Believer magazine. He followed Spree with Housekeeping vs. the Dirt and ends (unfortunately) with Shakespeare Wrote for Money. The title is a throw away line from the book but is also classic Hornby. This little demythifacation (is that a word?)of the Bard tells us that Hornby realizes that any writer is first, a person (like himself) who struggles to get words on paper in a satisfying order, with narrative arc and skill, who is also trying to Say Something worth reading. And, maybe, make a living. There is not an ounce of oracular pronouncement, not a whit of assuming he is better read than you or I (but, of course, he is) and he jabs at High Literary Merit criticism on a regular basis. Hornby is funnier than you and I are, in that dry British way I can only envy. Barred, he says, from saying anything unkind about any writer, he still manages to point out that some books, while they may deserve to be printed (writers need to eat, after all), do not deserve to be discussed. His enthusiasms can be enormous, but they are replaced (or augmented) a month or two later with a new enthusiasm. He takes time off to root for Arsenal (his home team), tease his friends (Sarah Vowell comes up), smoke and to be thrilled and a teeny bit jealous of the writers who conquer narrative arcs, effective language and insight.Read more ›
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