All the World's a Grave

A New Play by William Shakespeare

John Reed - Editor

John Reed - Afterword by

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ISBN 9781440629693 | 208 pages | 26 Aug 2008 | Plume | 8.26 x 5.23in | 18 - AND UP
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An epic tragedy of love, war, murder, and madness, plucked from the pages of Shakespeare

In All the World’s a Grave, John Reed reconstructs the works of William Shakespeare into a new five-act tragedy. The language is Shakespeare’s, but the drama that unfolds is as fresh as the blood on the stage.

Prince Hamlet goes to war for Juliet, the daughter of King Lear. Having captured Juliet as his bride—by reckless war—he returns home to find that his mother has murdered his father and married Macbeth. Enter Iago, who persuades Hamlet that Juliet is having an affair with Romeo. As the Prince goes mad with jealousy, King Lear mounts his army. . .

This play promises to be the most provocative and entertaining work to be added to the Shakespeare canon since Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

In an inspired bit of bricolage, Reed selects characters and passages from Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V and recombines them into a new work. Well, new is an overstatement, since all major plot twists are lifted from the aforementioned plays—the murder of an old king by someone poisoned by ambition, a young prince determined to expose his father’s killer, an innocent young woman falsely accused and then murdered by her husband. Only the names have been shuffled to freshen the story. Here Macbeth kills Hamlet’s father, Juliet marries Hamlet (and then, poor girl, plays Desdemona to his Othello), and King Lear leads an army, like Fortinbras, into Hamlet’s bloodsoaked country (Bohemia, not Denmark). This “remix version” of Shakespeare proves fascinating and entertaining. Reed clearly loves the Bard. His pastiche contains many of Shakespeare’s best passages, which are always a delight to reread. More impressive, though, Reed fashions from this familiar material a story containing enough surprises to delight even those well versed in the Bard.

Praise for John Reed’s novels:

“John Reed excels in the realm of the strange.”
San Francisco Examiner

“Reed’s book is a swift and satisfying read, viciously funny, out of left field.”
The New York Post