Podcast 127: Interview with Jean Hegland, author of Still Time



This week’s podcast continues our three month-long discussion of King Lear with a slight detour and an interview with Jean Hegland, the author of the Lear-influenced and -infused novel, Still Time. Plus, a new contest!

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Book Review: Still Time by Jean Hegland

As we were beginning our time with King Lear last month (and I was mentioning that the play seemed to be playing like a confluence of a number of thoughts and emotions in my life currently: the loss of my father, the health problems my wife’s mother was going through, and the fear/reality that Alzheimer’s runs in my wife’s family), it was brought to my attention that there was recent novel that dealt with those same themes.

And thus, I found Still Time by Jean Hegland in my hands and on my Kindle.

The Amazon page for the 2015 book has a blurb by David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and Shakespeare’s Words:

Anyone who knows only fragments of Shakespeare will be fascinated and deeply moved by this insightful story of a Shakespeare scholar experiencing dementia. Fellow Shakespeareans will delight in the way the myriad allusions to the plays are intertwined with beautifully crafted elegiac descriptions of the old man’s life in a home and his dissolving family memories. Still Time is a novel Shakespeare would be proud of.

If you’ve followed this blog, you know in what high regard I hold Crystal (and his son Ben)… but, those are some bold words. Could the book live up to them?

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Book Review: The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro

Back in September of last year, I picked up a copy of The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro. After the rave reviews it received in the press, how could I not? Especially since I knew the play of the title was just around the corner on this very blog (the past has become present, as we enter King Lear this month).

The Year of Lear by James Shapiro

You know, they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I suppose the same can be said of titles.

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A look back at Desdemona

Back in October, I saw a production of Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars’ female-centric reexamination of Othello, Desdemona. As you might recall, I found it white-hot in its brilliance if not a little cold in its emotional heft. Of course, my own gender may be at the root of this; my wife Lisa and our close friend Renee had no problem feeling as much from the piece as thinking of it.

But what do I think about it now, having read the source material again?

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BOOK REVIEW: Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas by Bicks and Ephraim

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a Boston Globe story about a book by two Shakespeare scholars, the title of which gave me pause and a smile: Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas. Now, (my wife Lisa and) I don’t mind a libation every now and then, so that grabbed me right off the bat. The story talked about how the book’s two authors, Caroline Bicks, PhD (associate professor of English at Boston College) and Michelle Ephraim, PhD (associate professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute), took solid scholarship on the Bard (which has been the basis for their Everyday Shakespeare blog), a shared interest in a good drink (shared with me and my wife as well), and a cheeky tone, and built a cocktail (and hors d’oeuvres) recipe book. I was in: Quick trip to Amazon, and pre-ordered it.

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Win an Autographed (!) Copy of Shakespeare for Kids: Julius Caesar, signed by editor Brendan Kelso

A couple of days back, I reviewed Shakespeare for Kids: Julius Caesar, edited by Brendan P. Kelso. It’s a fine, fun piece of work, something you will want if you have kids, either personally or professionally (as a teacher).

So, how would you like a copy, autographed by Kelso?

Playing with Plays presents Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for Kids (edited by Brendan P. Kelso)
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar for Kids (thanks to its editor Brendan P. Kelso providing a review copy!)

I think I can make that happen…

Here’s how:

Let me know about the best production/version/adaptation you’ve ever seen of this month’s play, Julius Caesar. Give me the basic W’s: when and where was it, who was in it, and–most important of all–what made it so good.

Drop it into the comment thread below… I’ll read ‘em all in the last podcast for Julius Caesar, and the first of the New Year on January 4, 2015. I’ll pick the best (in my own humble opinion), and if it’s yours, then you get the book!

Submission deadline is midnight, Wednesday, December 31… good luck (and win a great book)!

Review: Julius Caesar for Kids, edited by Brendan P. Kelso

OK, so you all know my educational background (or if you don’t, Reader’s Digest version: I taught high school English, Shakespeare, and Drama [among other things]) for 10 years a long time ago; plus, my wife still teaches elementary school). You know I love a good educational resource.

Well, a few months back, I found a kindred spirit on Twitter (honestly, I don’t remember who started following whom first… not that it matters), @shakespeare4kid, the moniker for Brendan P. Kelso, who has written a number of “Shakespeare for Kids” books (collections of play-lets) as well as other literature classics for his site, PlayingwithPlays.com. And when I checked out the site, I found that he has a book on our current (at that point, upcoming) play under discussion, Julius Caesar. So I asked him for one.

Brendan delivered. Just got the book a few days back.

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