The Wise Man Knows Himself to Be a Fool

Happy April Fool’s Day! I don’t like pranks so much, but I love Shakespeare’s fools. More than just a jester, these fools are witty and see beyond the status quo of the play’s world. For example, in this scene from Twelfth Night, Feste (my favorite fool!) asks Olivia why she mourns for her brother:

I love how Feste can address Olivia’s feelings of grief here while reminding her that it’s unhealthy to wallow in mourning.

Another cool part about the fool? They provide musical entertainment! This song is from the end of Twelfth Night. Spoiler alert, guys–happy endings (almost) all around:

So if you’re feeling especially foolish, check out Twelfth Night or another of Shakespeare’s plays featuring a fool.

And if pranks are your thing, there’s a great list of YA prankster books over at the Hub.

Prom Night Is Dark and Full of Terrors

By now, you’re probably already obsessed with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (All. The. Feelings!) But we’re winding down in the P&P plotline–Lizzie and Darcy have come to feel more about each other; Jane and Bing have reconciled; and Lydia has overcome the potential scandal of the heinous Wickham. I was really sad to imagine an end in the near future.

Fortunately, it looks like we’ve got another modern literary web series to latch onto–starring a few favorites from LBD! Although A Game of Thrones might be set in a medieval-ish fantasy world, looks like things translate pretty well to a contemporary high school setting in School of Thrones. I especially like the retro-hipster Starks.

And it’s only just started! Check out the first episode here:

Is it weird that this might actually inspire me to read beyond the first book?

Isn’t That About a Circus? And Other Misconceptions of Classic Stories

The other day, Walt mentioned wanting to see the A.R.T. performance of The Glass Menagerie. I agreed, and remarked I hadn’t even read it. “Isn’t it kind of weird?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said.

“Really? I thought it was about an old lady in a sandbox.”

Apparently that’s not what The Glass Menagerie is about. It is, however, what The Sandbox by Edward Albee is about. I think The Sandbox was in an anthology we had in high school, and for some reason I conflated it with The Glass Menagerie. But it got me thinking about other misconceptions I had/have about famous works prior to actually reading them. Some books and plays are so connected with popular culture that i’s almost impossible not to encounter them in some way. But hearing about something doesn’t mean you actually know it. Here are some other assumptions I’ve made about  classic stories:

Somehow, NOT about actual wind.

Gone with the Wind
Real story: period romance set during the American Civil War, about a bitchy but determined southern belle and her romantic mistakes.
My version: like The Wizard of Oz, except without the magic.

Lord of the Flies
Real story: a group of British boys get stranded on an island, go crazy without the rules of society.
My version: the history of the devil; probably confused it with Paradise Lost.

Far from the Madding Crowd
Real story: courtship in English rural life.
My version: a traveling circus travels around, has feelings.

A Tale of Two Cities
Real story: two lookalikes (one a former aristocrat and one a drunk genius lawyer) get caught up in the French Revolution.
My version: I thought this was supposed to be A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was really confused when I started reading it.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Real story: a young girl encounters racism in the deep South as her father defends a black man accused of rape.
My version: a young girl gets bitten by a rabid squirrel and goes crazy. (????? right? I guess the rabid dog from the real book somehow entered my subconsciousness and got really distorted.)

Do or did you have any wrong impressions about famous novels?

Links Galore

A few links for today:

The Glamorous Movie Life of Editoral Assistants

From the Onion, the movie version of publishing:

“After being offered her dream job as an editorial assistant at a high-powered, nationally syndicated magazine last week, area film character Eleanor “Eddie” Edison moved into a beautiful brownstone home in the heart of Brooklyn, sources confirmed. “This place is perfect!” said the attractive, if naively hopeful, protagonist, who graduated with a degree in English/Creative Writing from a well-known northeastern university and now lives in a 5,000-square-foot waterfront property overlooking lower Manhattan.”

Change that around to “writer” and you’d have the same movie scenario, too. For anyone who wants to get into publishing/writing for the money, Amy Poehler has a suggestion:

Okay, so those of us in the book world may not have perfect brownstones, but we sure do love literature!

DFTBA, America

Worlds collide when John Green was invited to appear in President Obama’s Google+ Hangout. See the results below:

Smooth move, Obama. I also love how this brings together the world of YA and the world of politics. When I was a teen, I wasn’t that involved in politics. I didn’t see it as something I could have any part in and, frankly, found it kind of boring. (Totally untrue on both counts, but there you have it.) But videos like this could make teens feel like politics is a approachable, which could lead them to finding ways to get involved and get their voices heard.

Also, I’m voting for Eleanor.

How to Take a Great Author Photo–With or Without Cats

Since I’m married to a playwright, I know a bunch of actors and have gotten to see lots of lovely headshots in my time. But most actors are used to being in front of a camera. Authors aren’t quite as prepared for their author photos. Why can’t we

Fortunately, Scribner has some suggestions for making your author photo work:

Get your laser beam eyes ready, everyone. And don’t forget that crucial index finger!

(image: Scribner Books)

Friday Fifteen

Another Friday, another Friday Fifteen, in which I review five books in fifteen words or less. Onto the books!

97806897118171. Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb
Read a short story excerpt of this in Seventeen; was excited to find the novel.

2. The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes by McSweeney’s Publishing and John Hodgman
My dad saw this randomly and bought it for me. Nice move, Dad.

3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Running away to the Met and figuring out an art history mystery? So much yes.

4. Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Excuse me, I’m having all the feelings. Simple but powerful.

5. Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker ed. by David Remnick
Excellent collection of profiles ranging from Marlon Brando to dog show people.

Links Galore

A few links to round out the week: