Title: Taking What I Like
Author: Linda Bamber
Publisher: Black Sparrow Press
Date of Publication: July 31, 2013
How I Heard About It: I'm reviewing "Taking What I Like" as part of the book's extended tour, hosted by TLC Book Tours. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! You can check out the rest of the tour here.
Two Sentence Summary: A collection of short stories revolving around well-known literary characters and plots, "Taking What I Like" is a successfully humorous re-imagining of the classics. The relationship of Shakespeare and other authors to each story differs (characters placed in new contexts, or peripheral characters explored more deeply, for example), and when combined with the sharp intellect and comedic undertones of Bamber's voice, these well-known figures are refreshed and gain interesting new dimensions.
Things I Think: I was immediately drawn to the concept behind this book, it's aim to "reinvent classic texts." It has the feel of a project piece, something I've experimented with and encountered frequently in the poetry world. For this reason, I decided to read and review "Taking What I Like" and am certainly glad to have done so.
As other bloggers on the tour have pointed out, the author's life as an academic has clearly been influential here. Not only does the nature of the content point to professorial literary love, but settings and characters also reflect an involvement with / interest in the academic scene. And while Bamber clearly has an extensive knowledge of the classics, I feel certain that readers less-versed in Shakespeare, etc. have been provided ample keys to appreciate the stories as well. In "Casting Call," which features the cast of "Othello" as a collegiate faculty, the characters fully recall their sordid previous lives, and as readers we're given glimpses of the past tragedy in conjunction with their current position.
I still have more stories to savor in this book and am greatly looking forward to them. NPR has already featured Linda Bamber for her work in "Taking What I Like" and I anticipate more press for this book in the near future.