Master of the Backstory

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 14, 2007 8:43PM

verona_2007_11.jpgWhat started as Chicago actor and director David Blixt’s creative inquiry into the Capulet-Montague feud quickly became so much more. The Master of Verona, Blixt’s debut novel set in 14th Century Italy, explores Italian political life, conspiracy, the life of Dante, and the possible backstory for Romeo and Juliet. While directing the aforementioned Shakespeare play years ago, he found its all-consuming resolution fascinating and troublesome, hinting at but never revealing the source of the families’ feud. So started an intense exploration that took the author to the Newberry Library, the University of Michigan, and the villa Serego Alighieri in Verona.

The book’s essentially a Shakespearean prequel. And if that sounds too inaccessible or drama geekish for you, know that Blixt wrote the story for a modern audience. He told us:

Certainly Shakespeare-phobes shouldn't be daunted, because I was once of your number. I hated Shakespeare. And just because he now owns my soul doesn't mean I have made the novel some kind of bizarre homage to him. My characters don't speak like his do, and though he and I share some players, most of my cast is taken from history, real people.

His appearance at The Book Cellar’s Local Author Night arrives as The Master of Verona is catching fire. He’s taking time out from editing the recently completed sequel, The Voice of the Falconer, Volume 3 is already in the works.

David Blixt reads from The Master of Verona, 7 p.m. tonight at The Book Cellar, 4736 N Lincoln Ave.