Penguin Books guest author: All the World's a Grave, 9/8
My first post as the Penguin Books guest guthor. "Shakespeare and Sarah Palin." It looks even better on the Penguin website: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/blogs/shakespeare-and-sarah-palin-john-reed
Barack Obama: the Moor? Or, more Hamlet. John McCain: Henry V, or Richard III? Joe Biden: Horatio, or Polonius? And Sarah Palin: Lady Macbeth, or Cleopatra?
Penguin/Plume Books has very graciously offered me this opportunity to blog for a week on their site. I believe I will be unvetted (we'll see). To their mistake, I intended to add my own. My new book, All The World's A Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare, contains a brief essay at the end. Before my wise editor got a hold of it, it was not brief, and I though to unload the whole story of my childhood, and rational for writing a new work by Shakespeare (I took apart all the known works and put them back together as a new tragedy), right here, for half a dozen people to see.
Instead, I'm planning to talk about my current obsession, Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate, Sarah Palin. I'm probably blowing any slim chance I had of making headway with her, but for the very few of you who have not investigated, there are not yet naked pictures of her on the internet: not "naked," not "nude," not "topless."
The book, which stars Hamlet, Juliet, Romeo, Iago, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the Weird Sisters, King Lear and the Ghost of old Hamlet, is meant to bring the spirit of Shakespeare to our times. If Shakespeare were to weigh in on contemporary war and culture, this is my vision of what he would say. And I feel somewhat backed up in my conjecture: every line, every word in the new play is sourced from Shakespeare. (Footnotes and stage versions and word counts and monologues and scenes for actors and all that can be found at johnreed.tv or alltheworldsagrave.com.) My intention being an extroverted one-to bring the tragedy to the concerns of our own day-it's perhaps not too terrific a stretch to consider Governor Palin.
She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,
To merit bliss by making me despair.
—Romeo and Juliet
Governor Palin's personal biography is very appealing-at least I find it so. The creationism, I find appalling. And all this "mission of God" stuff bespeaks our doom. More blood, more duckets-spilled needlessly. But even so, I think she's beautiful, and I want to hang out with her at her place in the country. You know, she'd be great fun-get all the kids together, pile them into a pickup truck, and go tubing on a whitewater river. Insane, I know, but I can imagine it. A friend instant messaged me "of course you want to hang out with her, she's a beauty queen." During the course of our IM conversation, My friend and I hatched a plan to start a "Love Letters to Sarah Palin" Group on facebook. Please join. As of this writing, we have 27 members and five letters.
The picture of Sarah Palin on the group profile is the best one I could find of her on the internet. As it turns out, it is not actually Sarah Palin, but Sabine Ehrenfeld. Separated at birth? A Shakespearean storyline of twins reunited? Possible, I think-and, they were born only two and a half months apart. Easy enough to call a five month old a four month old, and the other five month old a six month old. Think about it. (Regardless, many of you will be relieved to know that there are many "naked," "nude," "topless," pictures of Sabine Ehrenfeld on the internet.)
Upon starting the LLTSP group, I was surprised to receive a number of raging reactions. David Shankbone, one of those over-confident Obama people-responded by starting his own group: "Love Letter to Michelle Obama." (Twenty-three members, three letters.) He's challenged me to a competition (don't join that group!). You see what happens: we get sidelined in New York, and then we start throwing Gatorade at each other on the sideline. To characterize David: part Malvolio, part Puck, and part Hamlet. A very entertaining fellow, and I respect his opinion, but ...
Michelle, to me, just doesn't have that spark-nothing to put her on the cover of Penthouse. Maybe Clinton ... uh, Hillary Clinton. Yet Hillary, for all her flaws, she was no villainess. She could be abrasive, unpleasant, arrogant, yes-and I could see casting her as Lady Macbeth. But her Lady Macbeth is thirsty for power-anything to be Queen. Whereas Palin's Lady Macbeth is smiling evil. All of those pictures of Palin (beaming with bloody animals in the snow and her daughter at her side, or with a large dead fish in her hand), evidence the surmise. With effortless assurance, her expression says:
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile.
—King Henry VI, part III
And there is her allure-that total surety of her own infallibility. She can stand, with that piping voice of hers, and tell everyone it was God's will. Democrats have told me they find her chirruping off-putting, but I like it; first, it reminds me of language, and second, it has a quality of naked, craving want, the id of a caveman, all wrapped up nicely in a perfectly tailored Chanel pant-suit. And, of course, that she married an Eskimo, that she played pointguard, it points to the possibility that despite her pedigree, she could somehow tolerate a guy like me at the BBQ-a writer, or a mechanic (or whatever the guy like me might do for a living), standing at the grill cooking with a dirty hammer. She'd just smile, and ask for the deer burger.