Arthur Phillips

In his high-concept The Tragedy of Arthur (Random House, $26), Arthur Phillips invents a fictional character named Arthur Phillips who discovers an unknown Shakespeare manuscript (also called The Tragedy of Arthur). In the 256-page introduction, Phillips the author blends memoir and scholarly discourse to recount how Phillips the character’s family acquired this priceless piece of literary history. Then Phillips the author includes the footnoted “text” of the “original” script of the Shakespeare play, which may be a fabrication perpetrated by the character’s father, also named Arthur Phillips—either way, his Fakespeare had better be a masterpiece of pastiche. Like his spiritual brother, David Mitchell, Phillips not only kicks postmodernism awake but encourages it to shoot crystal meth. JAMES HANNAHAM

Tue., May 10, 7 p.m., 2011

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