Hands up anyone who doesnâ€™t know the story of Romeo and Juliet. No-one? Thought not. Chances are you cut your literary teeth on it, and it probably holds some special associations for you. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s such a good subject for a modern/historical parallel romance story with sinister overtones.
The very first thing I did after finishing The Tragedy of Author – Arthur Phillips’s ingenious faux-memoir – was to Google to see what was true and what wasn’t…only to find that much of Phillips’s traceable past has been erased.
Did he really have a gay twin sister named Dana, a scam artist father who spent his adult life in prison, a Czech wife and twin sons of his own? Methinks not. What I do know is that Arthur Phillips shares his birthday with the Bard himself, that he was born in Minnesota, and that he is indeed a writer to be watched very carefully. Because what he’s accomplished in this novel – er, memoir – is sheer genius.