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Y is for Yorick by [Adams, Jennifer]
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Y is for Yorick Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


In her novel Blue Shoe, Ann Lamott describes a character readers can be pretty sure the author knew in real life. She says he wants to be a writer, but then corrects herself. She says he wants to be a great writer, but spends almost no time actually writing. Lamott's incredulity would probably be shared by Jennifer Adams. Adams, who is one of Salt Lake's more prolific authors and editors, writes books without regard to their-or her reputation's-immortality. Her topics are drawn from popular culture, with an eye to transforming the inescapable milestones of life that no one really wants to eliminate, but which we all wish could be as pleasant and memorable as they are supposed to be. Weddings and their showers, babies, picnics, and such versatile, mundane materials as cheese and gelatin have benefitted from her sense that unavoidable things don't have to be dreary. But not for nothing has she divided her time between writing her own books and editing the broad catalog of publisher Gibbs Smith. Adams has a serious-though still not somber-side. One of her books, Remarkably Jane, celebrates Jane Austen, and her new one, which she will be reading from and signing at King's English bookstore on Thursday at 7pm, attempts nothing less than to make accessible the greatest and, for many, one of the most intimidating authors.

As the title suggests, Y is for Yorick takes an irreverent look at Shakespeare. The jacket stipulates "slightly irreverent," but irreverence is essential to what makes it worth adding to the already heavy shelf of books on the indispensable poet and playwright. Anyone who knows Shakespeare knows how he uses humor throughout his plays to make their truths approachable. What better way, then, to appreciate his writing without dumbing it down than with a similar approach? Adams' finds the right level; her wit is neither too dry nor too low to suit this worthy target. Like Gaul, Y is for Yorick is divided in three parts. The introduction explains "Why Shakespeare Still Reigns." This is followed by thirty-seven alphabetical entries: curiously, and probably not coincidentally, the same number as there are generally accepted to be plays. The source play for each is identified. In the third section, we get synopses of the best-known twenty of those thirty-seven plays.

Quoting from the alphabetical character sketches is possible, but loses much of the fun, which comes partly from the lively typography in which they are printed. In fact, the visual appearance of the book is part of its excellence. San Francisco illustrator Hugh D'Andrade has come up with a variation on his popular, silhouette-based style of graphics, in which a seemingly loose pencil line, such as might have been left over from the original sketches, simultaneously brings the figures to life and comments visually on what the text reveals about them. In The Nurse, for example ("The Nurse was Juliet's surrogate mother and confidante. Everyone wishes they had someone in their life like the nurse."), the rapid lines surrounding her substantial form suggest vitality and good humor, while Shylock, on the other hand ("Shylock was a loan shark who got a bad rap for being Jewish. He also had a problem knowing when it was time to let something drop."), doesn't really fit his edgy envelope, suggesting being out of place can make a difference while questioning his attachment to the bag of gold he holds aloft.

In the final section, Jennifer Adams springs her trap. The synopses she distills from the complex works whose characters she gently, playfully mocks are straight and as pellucid as a pool of mountain spring water, bringing their stories into focus as few academics could manage. Armed with shared laughter and reinforced with knowledge of what's really going on, anyone should be able to approach Shakespeare undaunted. And for those already intimate with this great cultural treasure, the pleasure of a fresh take can make the familiar feel as new as it always should.

(Geoff Wichert 2011-03-25)

From the Inside Flap

"J is for Juliet. Juliet teaches all young girls that if you truly love someone, wholly and completely, it will be the death of you."

The plays of William Shakespeare contain some of the most renowned characters and stories in all of literature. Y is for Yorick, a witty Shakespearean A-to-Z book, takes playful jabs at the unforgettable plots and people we all know and love. With amusing illustrations, tongue-in-cheek entries from Ariel (The Tempest) to EliZabeth (Richard III), and summaries of each play, Y is for Yorick is as entertaining for the newly initiated as it is for devoted Shakespeare fans.

Jennifer Adams has a general affinity for civilized dark humor and all things British. In addition to Shakespeare, she loves Jane Austen, Edward Gorey, New York City, The X-Files, cats, old cemeteries, expensive chocolate, Italian shoes, decipherable poetry, and city streets in the rain. Her favorite movie is Shakespeare in Love and her favorite Shakespearean characters are the three witches in Macbeth.

When not brooding on the more sinister aspects of day-to-day living, Jennifer works as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City. She is the author of several books, including Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1366 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (February 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004K1FHU8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,604,156 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I haven't read Shakespeare for a very long time. But this book makes me want to pick up the old bard again! I think he would smile all the way through this "slightly irreverent," delightful, and very creative ABC book for grown-ups. I did, and so did my daughter. Both the writing and the illustrations are great. It's witty and entertaining for any age reader; and the Play Summaries at the end of it are pithy and informative, useful for middle grade/high school/college students. At the Amazon price for the hardback copy, I would spend a few more dollars for it any day over an eReader version.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a really fun, short read. Every letter has a character, every character has a picture, and the pictures and short descriptions can be wickedly funny. (see D is for Dennis, or E is for Edmund) In the back are two-page synopses of all the plays, so you can get a clue if you're scratching your head over X is for Polixenes. (yes, the author had to fudge on a few letters...) I bought two copies, one for myself and one for my college-bound daughter, who also enjoyed it thoroughly. Recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is, simply put, delightful--the witty writing, the illustrations, the design, even the feel of it. I challenge you to put it down and not want to keep picking it up again and again! And I LOVE the play summaries at the end. I wish I'd had this in college.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I actually bought this book while purchasing some of her others for my young daughter not realizing that it was for "adults". I am glad I purchased it though because it is sarcastically hilarious! I teach Language Arts at the high school level and could appreciate the humor.
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