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13 July 2007

From the Desk of Bill Shakespeare...

©2007 Doug Tarnopol

Or: "Thoughts on Having to Write a 'Blurby' Book Proposal in the Early Twenty-First Century, USA"

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Dear Ms. Brown:

Hi, Tina! It was great talking to you the other day at the Rainbow Room. I'm so sorry, again, for interrupting you, but I just had to tell you about my awesome new play! It must have been a bit embarrassing for you when security threw me out. Thanks for being so gracious, and for telling me to send an e-mail to your office. I've had zero luck shopping this around. I really loved what you did with The New Yorker -- you know, all those stories about the rich and powerful. What we need now is more celebrity creation and worship -- it's an underutilized market.

I'm so happy you're into publishing now.

Anyway, friends of mine have told me to let you know how I came up with this play, what its demographics would be, what genre it belongs to, and what message(s) I'm trying to get across.

One day, I was thinking about the worthwhileness of life, the folly of power, the sexuality that lies underneath family structure, and the unsolvable inverse relationship between contemplation and action when I said, hey, what we need right now is a four-hour-long, discursive play with many long soliloquies.

The eighteenth-century French will hate it, but the Sturm und Drang early Romantics in Germany will worship it. So, try to market it to them in 200 years. Avoid a French launch. Also: much of the vocabulary is quite obtuse, even to an Elizabethan, and the poetry is dizzyingly complex. Perhaps we can publish with a facing translation into a more contemporary idiom, with a snappy, in-your-face, youthful edge.

Here's a proof-of-concept:

HAMLET
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
HAMLET
So, like, should I take myself out, or what?
Would it be cooler for me to just suck it up and stop whining
Or should I just start kicking ass and taking names?
If I took myself out, I could, like, totally avoid all the trouble, you know?
That'd be so bitchin'!
But if being dead is like being asleep, then what if I have an endless bad dream?
You know, like a Matrix kind of thing?
That'd be totally bogus.
I mean, since no one can be sure that by takin' yourself out,
You're swallowing the red pill (blue pill? -- don't remember; no biggie),
People put up with a ton of hassles in life --
Like, getting old and shit, high taxes, muckety-mucks talkin' down to you,
Or, like, when you dig someone but they're, like, totally ignoring you,
(Which sucks ass)
Those damn trial lawyers screwing up healthcare,
Or moron-bosses you know you're more competent than,
But who you have to suck up to, 'cause, like, that's the deal.
I mean, say it got out that life-after-death was real, and real fun.
Who'd clean up the trash or my pool, even? -- I mean, someone's gotta do it.
We don't know what happens after death, since no one's ever come back to tell us,
So you might as well get over yourself and just deal.
That might sound like pussying out, but sometimes you have to think things through
Rather than just do it --
No matter what the sneaker tells you.
It sucks because it's hard to do big things when you're so busy thinking...
But what are ya gonna do, hoss, ya know?



Or do it in PowerPoint? Would welcome reactions.

Hamlet is a tragedy, I guess, since everyone ends up dead on-stage at the end.

I think this will appeal to teenagers who have problems with their parents, because, like, you know, don't we all?

People will learn that:
  • life's major conflicts are unsolvable
  • it's quite possible that the examined life actually makes one less happy, but perhaps more wise
  • whether to go on living has no general, objective answer
Which should cheer everybody up and make for good sales.

Hope to hear from you soon! I have a Blackberry, so e-mail is probably best. My cell is messed up now, but it's 666-987-4321 -- for later use!

Thanks for the opportunity!

Best,

Bill Shakespeare
stratford@uponavon.com

©2007 Doug Tarnopol

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