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The Tragedy of Arthur

by Arthur Phillips

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5595932,262 (3.56)46
When their long-imprisoned con-artist father reaches the end of his life, Arthur and his twin sister become the owners of an undiscovered play by William Shakespeare that their father wants published, a final request that represents either a great literary gift or their father's last great heist.
  1. 00
    If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Two books that explore creativity, crime and their connection to Shakespeare.
  2. 00
    My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Although set in very different locations, both are 'autofictional' works dealing with an adult author coming to terms with his childhood and troubled relationship with his father.
  3. 00
    Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Another great work of metafiction where the novel comprises the work of one 'author' with notes and introductory material by another.
  4. 00
    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (jilld17)
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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
This book is odd. It is set up as a memoir, but it's not. The author takes a fictional account of his family and includes the Arthur legend in it with some Shakespeare thrown in. It shouldn't have worked, but honestly the book as a whole really does work if you read the play first (it's in the back) and work back through the fictional introduction by the author talking about him wanting to show the world about his father. And as we know about the Arthur legend, it is ultimately a tale of fathers and stand in fathers.

Starting with the play, this is written by Shakespeare and looks into Arthur being the son of the King Uter Pendragon and a noblewoman that Uter raped. After Uter's death, Arthur's right to rule is challenged by heir to the crown of Pictland, Mordred. Mordred's father is King Loth who refuses to go to war with Arthur. This play is about how of course these two men to do go to war. And how Arthur is brought low due his love of a woman who caused him to forget that above all else he was king.

I honestly think this book would be cool to borrow just to read the play itself. I do think though that the play does not read like Shakespeare at all to me. Maybe because I recently got done reading 10 of his plays. But, for me, it was very nice mimicry.

Then you go back to the introduction by Phillips who begins to tell the tale of his father who is a forger. Arthur's father is in and out of jail for most of his life and eventually when he is younger, his mother divorces him and marries someone from her hometown. Arthur and his twin sister Dana have a lot of ups and downs through the years. Though twins, they differ on the subject of their father. Dana defends him and Arthur I find saw through his father the most.

Eventually though, the introduction does turn into a mini-walk though Shakespeare here and there. You have some references to A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night.

We have the character of Arthur trying to be honest and I thought this faux memoir was very well done. We get to see an imperfect man and husband and father. And yes even son and brother. But I think he also shone a light on an imperfect family that refused to acknowledge the truth about each other.

In the end, a twist worthy of Shakespeare has Arthur out in the cold away from his family. That was the one part that didn't feel real to me. It also didn't make sense his own mother would somehow go along with things. And the character of Petra really didn't evolve more beyond somehow being the perfect woman. I thought she played a lot of games and I didn't much care for her or Dana in the end. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Arthur Phillips amazed me with this book. He told a story of a family with a father who is a con man and a found copy of a previously unknown Shakespeare play. Can the son believe it is real or is it just another fake by an expert con? The story is fascinating, but the "Shakespeare" play at the end is unbelievable! Lots of fun! ( )
  glade1 | Jun 11, 2020 |
So [a:Arthur Phillips|16223|Arthur Phillips|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1300779822p2/16223.jpg] is one of my favorites so I'm predisposed to like this book. And it really doesn't disappoint. A story of the son of a con man who spends the whole book basically conning the reader, while complaining about being the son of a con man. And of course a whole phoney play by Shakespeare. Just read it--it's worth it. ( )
  Skybalon | Mar 19, 2020 |
I had a difficult time keeping interest in this book. ( )
  Melwilk | Mar 19, 2020 |
Blah, didn't finish, ran out of steam mid way... ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
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I have never much liked Shakespeare.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When their long-imprisoned con-artist father reaches the end of his life, Arthur and his twin sister become the owners of an undiscovered play by William Shakespeare that their father wants published, a final request that represents either a great literary gift or their father's last great heist.

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