Taking What I Like

Linda Bamber. Godine/Black Sparrow, $18.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-57423-223-3
In this first story collection, Bamber’s imaginative tales draw the reader in by virtue of their seeming shagginess, combined with a somewhat confessional tone that feels a bit like memoir or creative nonfiction. In “Time To Teach Jane Eyre Again,” she uses a professor’s academic dilemma as a jumping-off point for a consideration of the love life of the heroine, her friends, and some of the students in the upcoming class, through the lens of the Brontë novel. Theatre and/or literature figure prominently in nearly every story. “Casting Call” is narrated by Desdemona (yes, that Desdemona), now the chair of an English Department in which Othello and a handful of other characters from Shakespeare’s play are faculty members. “Cleopatra and Antony” tells the familiar story in short sections with often-piquant titles (“Pussy Whipped”; “The Barge She Sat On”). “An Incarceration of Hamlet” unpacks the classic through loopy literary analysis and a This American Life story about prisoners performing the play. The final story, “The Gross Clinic,” riffs on a Thomas Eakins painting. Readers whose interests diverge from Bamber’s narrow world may not find much to like, but fans of theatre or lit-crit should be exhilarated by her circuitous flights of intellectual fancy. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
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