Bob Smith Hamlet's Dresser: A Memoir

ISBN 13: 9780753198445

Hamlet's Dresser: A Memoir

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9780753198445: Hamlet's Dresser: A Memoir
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"...a tale told by a wise man, full of tears and laughter, signifying a great deal more than most other works of autobiography..." Anthony Holden, author of William Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Genius A sad, funny and inspiring account of how one man's life was saved by Shakespeare. Bob Smith was a fragile boy from a difficult household presided over by an unstable, depressive mother who depended on him, an unsupportive, unavailable father and a severely disabled, beautiful sister who lived at home, largely cared for by Bob. At the age of ten he stumbled upon a line from Shakespeare's THE MERCHANT OF VENICE - "in sooth I know not why I am so sad" - and found in Shakespeare the buoy that would keep him afloat for the rest of his tumultuous life. In gorgeous, tender, and lyrical prose, Smith tells the story of a life shaped by poetry. Melding tragedy and comedy, he gracefully weaves together the stories of his bittersweet childhood, his poignant experiences with old people, and dozens of illuminating passages and scenes from Shakespeare's plays. Throughout, Bob's sweet, tortured sister plays both the beautiful Ophelia and the ghost to Bob's Hamlet, haunting the book with heartrending power.

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Review:

Of what do we write when we write of love? In Bob Smith's case, it is Shakespeare's poems and plays. Hamlet's Dresser braids two strands of his life into a modest, heartbreaking, and soaringly affirmative memoir. A bookish, lonely child, his crush on the Bard's work became love when, as an alienated teenager, he joined the American Shakespeare Theatre as Hamlet's dresser. In time he would dress other characters, perform in small roles, become a coach and a watcher, and eventually lead senior citizens' groups in Shakespeare-appreciation courses. But this ecstatic marriage was haunted by his sad, contorted childhood: an increasingly dysfunctional mother, a distant father, and Caroline, his profoundly retarded sister. "Art," he writes, "can be a brutal thing, not just some decoration placed over the truth, but the truth itself." Smith's prose is bluntly ineffable: a rundown theatre looks like "Miss Havisham's bride cake" and the first teacher who didn't like him was "Miss Shumaker. It was right after I stopped pleasing everybody." The book is thick with short passages from Shakespeare. Placed in perfect context, they leap from the pages, abrupt as panoramic pop-ups. --H. O'Billovich

About the Author:

Bob Smith has devoted his life to teaching and directing Shakespeare, working with college students, famous actors, and the elderly. He recently moved back to Stratford, Connecticut, where he was born.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780684852706: Hamlet's Dresser: A Memoir

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ISBN 10:  0684852705 ISBN 13:  9780684852706
Publisher: Scribner, 2003
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9780684852690: Hamlet's Dresser: A Memoir

Scribner, 2002
Hardcover

9780641567841: Hamlet's Dresser: A Memoir

Scribner, 2002
Hardcover

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