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  • In our Futurology feature we have a list of gadgets that once seemed like great ideas (to some at least), but ended up becoming expensive filler for drawers or even dustbins. On the other extreme, we have good old music celebrated in Seattle’s new center – through new acts like Katy Perry and also more “established” personalities like England’s Billy Bragg, Ireland’s Sinead, and – why not – The Priests (a welcome phenomenon)....

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346 - Recommended Reading: Shakespeare revisited

Matt Haig (Standard British accent)

Hello, I’m Matt Haig. I’m a… author, I’ve written two… two novels based around Shakespeare – my first two novels – and my very first novel in English was called The Last Family in England. And... it’s… it’s a very strange book, I suppose, but it’s based on an obscure-ish Shakespeare play, the first Henry IV play, Henry IV Part One, and… but my… my play – my novel, rather – isn’t set in the past and it doesn’t involve kings; it involves a family and it’s told from a perspective of a Labrador dog. So it’s… it plays fast and loose with Shakespeare, but the great thing about Shakespeare is the themes are universal, so even though the specific people he’s talking about may be historical figures, and they may be set in a certain time and place, the themes apply to 21st century families as much as they did to royal families 500 years ago. The other… my… my second novel was based on Hamlet, which is obviously a more… more well… widely known play, and it was called The Dead Fathers’ Club. Again, it was set in contemporary times, it was set in England, the town I grew up in, Newark-on-Trent, and it wasn’t about a prince, it was about an 11-year-old boy and… but facing the same dilemma about whether to kill his uncle, after his uncle had moved in with his mother. So, yes, Shakespeare, I… I could have spent a whole career just copying Shakespeare, but he was… if… if you’re going to be taught by anyone and if you’re going to be influenced by anyone in the English Language, I think you can’t go wrong with Shakespeare!

(Matt Haig was talking to Mark Worden)

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