The true story of a boy whose life was saved by literature, "Hamlet's Dresser" is a portrait of a person made whole by art. Bob Smith's childhood was a fragile and lonely one, spent largely caring for his handicapped sister, Carolyn. But at age ten, his local librarian gave him a copy of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice, " and it transformed him. In Bob's first look at Shakespeare's penetrating language -- "In sooth I know not why I am so sad" -- he had found a window through which to view the world. Years later, when the American Shakespeare Festival moved into Stratford and Smith was hired as Hamlet's dresser, his life's passion took shape. Blending tragedy and comedy, Smith gracefully weaves together his childhood memories with his experiences backstage and teaching the plays. The result is a gorgeous, tender, infectious book about the restorative powers of literature and art.
"Chicago Tribune"Smith depicts characters so vividly and orchestrates their interactions so poignantly that the memoir would work if Shakespeare were absent. His presence makes the book more moving still.