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In Taking What I Like Linda Bamber reinvents some classic texts, mostly Shakespearean. Like Shakespeare himself, she sometimes showcases the brilliance of her models and sometimes plunders the past to make something new. As entertaining and contemporary as these stories are, they also revel in the plays they take apart. Alternating between admiration and attitude, Bamber layers her stories with commentary, history, and politics, pausing as they build for fascinating excursions into our present concerns as well as those of the past. Issues of racism (Othello), gender and sexuality (As You Like It), political power (Henry IV), and the decline of empire (Antony and Cleopatra) put the Bard in a decidedly 21st century framework.

npr

A delightful, moving, and often laugh-out-loud re-imagining of none other than Wm. Shakespeare himself, along with brilliant riffs on Thomas Eakins and Charlotte Brontë. Bamber does amazing things with the “Shakespeare format;” she’s made it into an incredibly elastic vehicle that gets the whole world in.

– Ben Fountain, NPR
***

Fans should be exhilarated by her flights of intellectual fancy.

Publisher’s Weekly
***

. . . deeply insightful comments on some of Shakespeare’s major plays.

– Sylvan Barnet, General Editor
The Complete Signet Shakespeare
***

Like the best and most memorable teachers Bamber brings the past to bear on the present in ways that inform and exhilarate.

The Harvard Review
***

In this highly original, wonderfully readable collection, Linda Bamber inserts contemporary protagonists into Shakespearean plots, illuminating both in the process. Inventive, playful and emotionally resonant!

– Eva Hoffman, author
Lost in Translation & Appassionata
***

In December of 2012 All Things Considered ran a segment on the Best Forthcoming Fiction Titles of 2013. Taking What I Like was selected as one of four. The following is an excerpt from the conversation between the NPR host Jackie Lyden and the reviewer, Ben Fountain:
LYDEN: The stories take famous characters literally and give them a new world.
FOUNTAIN: Right. Linda Bamber is a professor of English at Tufts University in Boston. And most of the stories in the collection take off from various Shakespeare plays and she takes them in these amazing directions. In one story, the heroine of “As You Like It” leaves her play and ends up dating all the three principal men of “Henry IV.” In another, a man is serving time in prison for murder, and he plays Hamlet in a prison production of the play. And – I mean, I’ve never read anything quite like these stories. They have attitude, they shake things up. They’re playful and inventive and funny, and Bamber gets the entire world into each one of her stories. They have the effect, the same effect as when you see a great production of a Shakespeare play. It makes the work come alive.
LYDEN: I love that. I’m going to read that.