Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Note: Speak of me as I am

Belasco, Sonia. Speak of me as I am. New York: Philomel Books, 2017.

This mirror novel involves a black male high school student and a white female high school student who are involved in the school's production of Othello.

They both are grappling with deep grief. Melanie's mother has died of cancer; Damon's best friend Carlos has committed suicide.

The two become romantically involved during the production, and you might expect that the novel would explore racial themes that Othello and their relationship bring up, but that's a pretty minor part of the novel.

Instead, the novel explores issues of sexual orientation more than issues of race.

I can't say much more than that without giving you spoilers, but I will give you a sample from about a third of the way through the book:

The novel is well-written, and its exploration of grief is deep. Its title is drawn from Othello's last speech: "When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, / Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, / Nor set down aught in malice" (V.ii.342-44), and the call of the novel is to remember our departed in that way.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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