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Shakespeare with a Twist: New Book by Michelle Ephraim Celebrates the Bard's Everyday Influence Through Food and Drink

The book blends literature and libations to bring The Bard to a wider audience

August 31, 2015
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Co-authors Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim

What do you get when you mix Shakespearean characters, the ups and downs of modern-day life, and delicious food and drink recipes? You get Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas, a new book co-authored by Michelle Ephraim, associate professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

In Shakespeare, Not Stirred, Ephraim, PhD, and coauthor Caroline Bicks, PhD, associate professor of English at Boston College, provide unique and humorous insights on the greatest writer of all time, and how his works apply to life today. Each original recipe is inspired by a Shakespeare character whose troubles and triumphs offer lessons about our own everyday lives.

"I'm thrilled to have written a book about Shakespeare for a general audience," Ephraim said. "This book was inspired by my students’ and my own personal responses to Shakespeare. I've found that Shakespeare is a type of universal language: he allows people to tap into their most complex and intimate emotions."

Ephraim and Bicks describe the book as "where we bring Shakespeare down from the Ivory Tower and into the messy stuff of everyday life… the Bard isn't some genius you haul out for weddings and graduation speeches. He's our snarky friend, our confidant, our therapist.… He's a useful guy to have around." The authors capture the joy and pain of familial, romantic and professional situations and address them with humor and sustenance: Did you just get dumped by a true love? Try Much Ado About Nothing's “Hero’s Pity Pate.” Are you overcome with envy? Sample Othello's "Green-Eyed Monster."

Along with the literary references and recipes, the book features classic images from the Folger Shakespeare Library, doctored to feature Shakespearean protagonists reflecting the intended humor. Think Macbeth with "Maki Beth" sushi rolls.

Ephraim and Bicks have been connecting Shakespeare's characters and plotlines to everyday predicaments for several years. As professors, parents, and good friends, they launched the popular Everyday Shakespeare blog to help others "trying to make it through the day" with their brand of Bard-meets-life humor.

Ephraim, who has been on faculty at WPI for 15 years, has previously written Bard-meets-life pieces for publications such as Tikkun, Lilith and The Washington Post. She is also the author of Reading the Jewish Woman on the Elizabethan Stage (Ashgate, 2008) as well as numerous articles on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature. Ephraim's essays and humorous life writing has appeared in publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Morning News, Take Magazine, and Word Riot, and has been featured on Open Salon.

Shakespeare, Not Stirred will be available in bookstores and online starting September 1. It is already receiving praise from fellow Bard enthusiasts. Ian Doescher, New York Times bestselling author of the William Shakespeare Star Wars series, called it "a perfect combination of delicious Shakespeare, delectable food and delightful drinks. Falstaff would heartily approve!"

Ephraim is represented by Adriann Ranta and Allison Devereux at Wolf Literary. The book will be published in the United States by perigee books, an imprint of penguin random house, in September 2015. The United Kingdom and Australian rights were sold to Scribe publications, who will publish it in October 2015.

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