the beardless bard

I was thinking today that Ann-Marie MacDonald is really due to write another book, right? It's been forever -- forever! -- since The Way The Crow Flies was released.

But some Googling yields this novel, The Belle Moral, which appears to have been released two years ago. Has anyone read it? How did it slip past my radar? It appears, as well, to be a reworking of MacDonald's earlier play, The Arab's Mouth.

However, I am writing to you today on behalf of a different MacDonald play, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). Really, we should all start organizing a campaign to get this work onto the screen.

How can I count the ways this slim little play is awesome?

To start, it's really well written. Example:

"No one may remain forever young.
We change our swaddling clothes for funeral shrouds,
and in between is one brief shining space,
where love may strike by chance, but only death is sure." (p. 64)

Just as important, it's wickedly smart. Indeed, what would happen if Othello and Romeo and Juliet were comedies? What if you could incorporate the gender bender story lines Shakespeare injected in other works, like Twelfth Night? What if neither Desdemona nor Juliet were victims? And they actually got what they deserved?

What if your heroine were a modern-day woman, an academic? And if, by the end of the work, the wordplay and ridiculousness that drags the likes of Mercutio and Tybalt and Othello under could drag her under too?

I think we all know the answers to these questions are: You'd have a really great, quick read on your hands. And stage directions to stoke your imagination.

Another monologue to love:

"Regina. I hate the prairies. They're flat. It's an absolute nightmare landscape of absolutes and I'm a relativist, I'll go mad. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Diamonds are harder than a bed of nails. I can't feel anything. I'm perfectly fine. I'll call the Dean and resign. I'll go back to my apartment and watch the plants die and let the cats copulate freely. I'll order in groceries. Eventually I'll be evicted. I'll smell really bad and swear at people on the subway. Five years later I run into Professor Night and Ramona: they don't recognize me. I'm selling pencils. They buy one. Suddenly, I drop dead. They discover my true identity. I'm awarded my doctorate posthumously...." (p. 20)



I've been holding my breath.

Like, literally, holding my breath while reading the last 10 pages of "Fear of Love," a chapter in Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin.

The man's a beautiful writer; it's easy to see why some argue his tangential spin on 9/11 is the best kind of post-Sept. 11 lit out there.

I'm just about halfway through the novel, selected by T for book club. And I just can't say enough nice things to capture the book's beauty. Here he has created characters I want to touch. I want to reach through the pages and hug or shake or pinch....

Honestly, I would add McCann to my list of crushes, if that list hadn't gotten so unwieldy lately.

But here's T's take on McCann, if not directly the book (I'm hoping he won't mind my stealing a line from his recent e-mail):

His books are full of harrowing, breathtaking prose, able to conjure up astonishing images at a whim, create entire histories within a few sentences, and wrench your gut before you even feel a twist.