cover image Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Greer Gilman. Small Beer, $10 paper (49p) ISBN 978-1-61873-095-4

The play's the thing, but when it insults the faerie queen Titania, she sends Kit Marlowe to disrupt the course of human events—and Ben Jonson's stage show—in a brief story that's just a bit too authentic to be easily digested. There's no doubt from the opening page that Gilman (Cry Murder! in a Small Voice) understands how to write period-accurate dialogue, but it limits the appeal to those who deal regularly in the Elizabethan tongue. While there are clever puns worthy of Shakespeare, most readers will find it a lot of work to mull them over, and ostensible protagonist Jonson is upstaged by Marlowe's tinkering, becoming more scenery than star except in one climactic moment. Set pieces, such as an actor's verbal duel with a fairy, are quite lively, but too much is obscured by plotting and dense prose. (Sept.)