Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tangy, But Not Tartt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      Ever since Donna Tartt published her masterwork, "The Secret History," there have been numerous attempts to rework it.  I guess writers were desperate for Donna's success.

                                      "If We Were Villains," by M. L. Rio (also a first novel!!!!!!!!) is a redo that works.  Instead of a posh college, a dramatic conservatory, not unlike Oberlin or Julliard, but centering exclusively on Shakespeare, is the setting.  The inner group is a septet of senior students--Richard, Alexander, Oliver, James, Meredith, Fillipia, and Wren.   During the year, this group. who spout Shakespeare as easily as I do movie quotes, are torn apart, when one of them is murdered.

                                       Like Tartt, it is done as a flashback.  Shakespeare references stand in for classical ones.  This novel is the print equivalent of the 1973 Vincent Price film. "Theater Of Blood."  It may not be campy, but reading this novel is a wonderful way to get students interested in Shakespeare.

                                     All similarities to Tartt end here.  The novel is divided into acts, like a play, and each section has a beginning, middle and end.  The outcome, which I was certain I saw coming, completely stumped me.  I will not spoil anything here, but the psychodynamics that  motivate how things turn out are such a sad and surprising twist, I was left gasping.  I will say this--my generosity does not extend as far as what is recorded here.

                                      The novel does not really get going, until beyond the halfway point.  This is frustrating while reading, but when done, the pace is understandable, as so much of gleaning the outcome depends on the exposition that sets it up.

                                        To read, or not to read--that is the question.  There is no question that M.L. Rio's "If We Were Villains" should be read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         It may discourage aspiring actors from taking up the craft!

                                         Then, again, it may do just the opposite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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