Does this happen to you? You choose a book or movie on a whim, then right away you encounter another one with oddly similar characteristics. Suddenly, you’re theme-reading when you just meant to be spontaneous.
I pounced on Christopher Moore’s Fool as soon as it hit the library, because the premise (it’s a send-up of King Lear) sounded amusing. And it was. Though perhaps too bawdy for some readers, the adventures of Pocket, the king’s jester, and his accomplice Drool compelled me to laugh out loud. Moore’s allusion-ridden text also helps to justify anyone’s ever wanting to be an English major.
A. J. Hartley’s Act of Will beckoned from the New Fiction shelves soon afterward. This fantasy-tinged escapade is narrated by recently unemployed teen actor Will Hawthorne. The quasi-England, Shakespeare-ish setting allows plenty of scope for theatrical rivalries, a band of supernaturally evil raiders, and Will’s amazing capacity for improvisation.
While it’s true that the Shakespearean devices first attracted me, another factor underscored my delight in these tales. If, like me, you are employed in a public service position requiring thoughtful and diplomatic behavior at all times, you will understand. It’s therapeutic to experience the vicarious thrill of being unjustifiably overconfident, not to mention a complete smart-aleck.