Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Few of Your Favorite Things: An 11-Year-Old Hamlet

Sure, it's almost 2008 and the act of reading an actual book is increasingly passé, but even still I made a sincere effort to read as many new literary releases as possible in 2007. I did a decent job of it, too. Although several titles are worth talking about -- The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, The World Without Us, and I Love You, Beth Cooper are three that spring to mind -- the one that really stood out for me was Matt Haig's The Dead Fathers Club.

Although the premise of The Dead Fathers Club is hardly original (it's a retelling of Hamlet, after all), like the works of Shakespeare it's not so much the originality of the story but the way the story is told that's striking. Philip Noble, the eleven-year-old protagonist, is an amazing kid whose story is so poignant and darkly humorous that I found myself cringing and cheering for him in ways I never did even for the Prince of Denmark. And while the story line is plenty engaging, it's Haig's style that wins you over. In simple and fragmented language, he perfectly captures the voice of a sad, anxiety-ridden boy who is ridiculed by his peers and manages to bravely face impossible expectations.

For Shakespeare fans (or just anyone who was force-fed the Bard during the course of their literary education), it's fun to anticipate how the story will follow its point of inspiration, and although I'd be loath to ruin the ending for anyone, it is a fairly accurate and impressive retelling. Unfortunately, I suspect only a handful of people read it, but I will continue to annoyingly push this book on as many people as I can, because I absolutely loved it. In fact, it was so nice I read it twice.

--Mrs. White


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next thing you know, you'll be telling us about listening to music on CD, using rotary phones, and keeping a prehistoric warthog under you sink to use as a disposal . . . books shmooks - wake me when the bastardized, dumb-downed, movie comes out in the form of High School Musical 4.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I accidentally submitted this under my wife's account. She is no where near the smartass I am.

7:35 PM  

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