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Sunday Arts Review: A must-read new book (if you speak English, at least).

Posted by oldancestor on April 18, 2010



Book review by Lennie


Title: Cliffs Notes Romeo and Juliet (Cliffs Notes, $5.99)

Author: Shakespeare’s

Don’t let the unwieldy title fool you. This tragic story is told using simple yet elegant words, an approach often missing from other recent works of fiction. If only other writers could dispense with their overwrought styles and follow the lead of Shakespeare’s, the promising new author behind this instant classic, I might read more books.

One gets a sense of the wonders found within before even opening it. From the moment the jacket design catches the eye, with its vivid yellow broken by diagonals of muscular black, the reader is compelled to explore further.

The story concerns a romantic, sweet-talking young man (who, in a coincidental twist, is named Romeo) lusting after an underage girl named Juliet, a name you may recall from watching Elizabeth Mitchell’s character on Lost, the ABC hit TV show. SPOILER ALERT: Romeo and Juliet’s respective families hate each other, so they must have sex in secret. Though, considering Juliet is underage, one can’t really blame her family for not liking him. Because this book is a period piece, statutory rape is less gross.       

Note: I’m assuming Romeo is about 28, since he’s clearly embarrassed to be hooking up with a 14-year-old.

Perhaps the most innovative aspect of Cliffs Notes Romeo and Juliet is the clear explanation of story themes. That’s right! Shakespeare’s comes right out and tells the reader what to think. All I can say to this is: It’s about time. I’m tired of guessing.

Like Madonna and Cher, Shakespeare’s chooses to be mononamatic (to go by only one name), a bold move for a new writer. But, given the monumental talent on display here, I’m pretty sure we’ll be mentioning this name alongside other literary giants like Ebenezer Scrooge and Sherlock Holmes for years to come.

She’s that good.

Lennie is a known idiot as well as the author of several cardboard-page baby books, including The Complete Alphabet, 1 through 9 and Nobody Loves You. His columns appear in The Anvil and, later, on his mother’s refrigerator.

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