From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A long-lost Shakespeare play surfaces in Phillips's wily fifth novel, a sublime faux memoir framed as the introduction to the play's first printing—a Modern Library edition, of course. Arthur Phillips and his twin sister, Dana, maintained an uncommon relationship with their gregarious father, a forger whose passion for the bard and for creating magic in the everyday (he takes his kids to make crop circles one night) leave lasting impressions on them both: Dana becomes a stage actress and amateur Shakespeare expert; Arthur a writer who "never much liked Shakespeare." Their father spends most of their lives in prison, but when he's about to be released as a frail old man, he enlists Arthur in securing the publication of The Tragedy of Arthur from an original quarto he claims to have purloined from a British estate decades earlier, though, as the authentication process wears on—successfully—Arthur becomes convinced the play is his father's greatest scam. Along the way, Arthur riffs on his career and ex-pat past, and, most excruciatingly, unpacks his relationship with Dana and his own romantic flailings. Then there's the play itself, which reads not unlike something written by the man from Stratford-upon-Avon. It's a tricky project, funny and brazen, smart and playful. (Apr.)
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The always-original Phillips has outdone himself in this clever literary romp. Successfully blending and bending genres, he positions himself as a character in a novel that skewers Shakespearean scholarship, the publishing industry, and his own life to rollicking effect. Poised on the brink of literary history, Random House is about to publish a recently discovered Shakespearean play that had languished for centuries until unearthed by Phillips� own father, also named Arthur Phillips. As literary executor of his father�s estate, the younger Arthur is invited to provide a �brief� introduction to this masterpiece, detailing the often questioned provenance of the play and his own eccentrically dysfunctional family in the process. Oh, by the way, the play, complete with scholarly notes, is also appended. Who wrote the play? Was it Arthur Phillips or William Shakespeare? How much truth does an author actually reveal in a fictional memoir? How low will a publishing company sink in pursuit of a literary coup? Does a play within a novel ever make sense? For the answers to these and other burning questions, you simply must read the book. High-Demand Backstory: Phillips, who has been on everyone�s radar since the publication of Prague (2007), continues to intrigue and amaze. --Margaret Flanagan
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