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Essays

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ISBN13: 9781608460960
ISBN10: 1608460967
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Full of what you might call conversation starters: tricky propositions about morality... politics, privilege, runaway nationalist fantasies, collective guilt, and art as a force for change (or not)...It's a treat to hear him speak his curious mind."-O Magazine

In these beautiful essays, Wallace Shawn takes us on a revelatory journey in which the personal and political become one.

Whether writing about the genesis of his plays, such as Aunt Dan and Lemon; discussing how the privileged world of arts and letters takes for granted the work of the "unobtrusives," the people who serve our food and deliver our mail; or describing his upbringing in the sheltered world of Manhattan's cultural elite, Shawn reveals a unique ability to step back from the appearance of things to explore their deeper social meanings. He grasps contradictions, even when unpleasant, and challenges us to look, as he does, at our own behavior in a more honest light. He also finds the pathos in the political and personal challenges of everyday life.

With a sharp wit, remarkable attention to detail, and the same acumen as a writer of prose as he is a playwright, Shawn invites us to look at the world with new eyes, the better to understand-and change it.

Praise for Wallace Shawn and Essays:�

"Lovely, hilarious and seriously thought provoking, I enjoyed it tremendously."-Toni Morrison

"Wallace Shawn writes in a style that is deceptively simple, profoundly thoughtful, fiercely honest. His vocabulary is pungent, his wit delightful, his ideas provocative."-Howard Zinn, author, A People's History of the United States

"Wally Shawn's essays are both powerful and riveting. How rare to encounter someone willing to question the assumptions of class and the disparity of wealth that grows wider every year in this country. To have such a gentle and incisive soul willing to say what others may be afraid to is considerably refreshing."-Michael Moore, film-maker

"Wallace Shawn's career as a playwright has been uncompromisingly devoted to proving, again and again, that theater is an ideal medium for exploring difficult matters of great consequence. The qualities that make his dramatic work so challenging, startling, unsettling, sensual, mind-and-soul expanding, so indispensible, are equally in evidence in the marvelous political and theatrical essays collected here. The basic faith of politically progressive people, that human beings are full of decent impulses perverted by political and economic malevolence, is in Shawn's writing held up to the liveliest, sharpest scrutiny imaginable; not, as in so much reactionary art, to shift blame from oppressor to oppressed, or from artifice to Nature, not to insist that we're innately, inescapably incapable of change, but rather as a scrupulous accounting of the slippery ethics, dream logic, fear-ridden resistance to progress, disturbing desires, of the greatest problem confronting all our hopes for a better, transformed world: Us, the actors in our collective drama. His essays are without sentiment and entirely resistant to the easy comforts of despair. Complexities are rendered delightfully plain, obfuscations are unsnarled and illuminated, clarity and rational thought are organized to plumb mysteries, and mysteries are respected and celebrated. Shawn's language, his unmistakable, original voice, felicitous, is unadorned, elegant, immediate, true. He's also a brilliant interviewer, as everyone who's seen My Dinner With Andre (which is just about everyone) knows. And, of course, he's very funny."-Tony Kushner, playwright, Angels in America

"Wallace Shawn is a bracing antidote to the op-ed dreariness of political and artistic journalism in the West. He takes you back to the days when intellectuals had the wit and concentration to formulate great questions - and to make the reader want to answer them."-David Hare, playwright

Synopsis:

Probing essays and observations by acclaimed actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, in his first nonfiction collection.

Synopsis:

"I've written plays and a few screenplays, in each one a person who isn't me speaks, and then another who isn't me replies, and then a third one enters or the first one speaks again. . . . I've even worked as a professional actor, speaking out loud as if I were someone not myself. . . . Every once in a while, though, I like to take a break from fantasyland, and I go off to the place called Reality for a brief vacation."—Wallace Shawn, from Essays

"Lovely, hilarious, and seriously thought-provoking."—Toni Morrison

"Full of what you might call conversation starters: tricky propositions about morality, politics, and art as a force for change (or not). . . . It's a treat to hear [Shawn] speak his curious mind."—O Magazine

"As an actor and playwright, Shawn's eccentric style is like no one else's. And in his collection of Essays . . . that inimitable inquiring voice can be heard loud and clear."—Los Angeles Times

"Fearless!"—GQ, Best Books of 2009

With his distinctive brand of humor and insight, acclaimed playwright and beloved actor Wallace Shawn takes readers on a revelatory journey through high art, war, culture, politics, and privilege that includes his thoughts as both an artist and a political thinker.

Wallace Shawn is an Obie Award–winning playwright and noted stage and screen actor. He is co-author of the film My Dinner with André and author of the plays The Fever, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Designated Mourner, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors. He lives in New York City.

About the Author

Wallace Shawn is an Obie Award–winning playwright and a noted stage and screen actor. His plays The Designated Mourner and The Fever have recently been produced as films, and his translation of Threepenny Opera was recently performed on Broadway. He is co-author of My Dinner with Andre and the author of The Fever, Aunt Dan and Lemon, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors, among other works.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

moon-face naomi, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by moon-face naomi)
Reading Wallace Shawn's essays are like cracking open delicious nuts that you never knew existed. Actually, it is like thinking that you have a nut allergy for you whole life, and then finding out that you can eat them, and they are wildly wonderful. Have you wanted to revisit the essay? Or try one but afraid of the letdown? Sample the Wallace!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
katerry, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by katerry)
A thoughtful and well written collection of essays from Wallace Shawn, on a variety of topics, including how he became an artist and contemplating the tension between the rich and the rest of the world. Thought provoking and funny.
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View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781608460960
Author:
Shawn, Wallace
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Politics-Political Science
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20100931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
164
Dimensions:
7.25 x 5.25 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Plays
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Production » Actors
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Leftist Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » Political Science

Essays Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 164 pages Haymarket Books - English 9781608460960 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Probing essays and observations by acclaimed actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, in his first nonfiction collection.
"Synopsis" by ,

"I've written plays and a few screenplays, in each one a person who isn't me speaks, and then another who isn't me replies, and then a third one enters or the first one speaks again. . . . I've even worked as a professional actor, speaking out loud as if I were someone not myself. . . . Every once in a while, though, I like to take a break from fantasyland, and I go off to the place called Reality for a brief vacation."—Wallace Shawn, from Essays

"Lovely, hilarious, and seriously thought-provoking."—Toni Morrison

"Full of what you might call conversation starters: tricky propositions about morality, politics, and art as a force for change (or not). . . . It's a treat to hear [Shawn] speak his curious mind."—O Magazine

"As an actor and playwright, Shawn's eccentric style is like no one else's. And in his collection of Essays . . . that inimitable inquiring voice can be heard loud and clear."—Los Angeles Times

"Fearless!"—GQ, Best Books of 2009

With his distinctive brand of humor and insight, acclaimed playwright and beloved actor Wallace Shawn takes readers on a revelatory journey through high art, war, culture, politics, and privilege that includes his thoughts as both an artist and a political thinker.

Wallace Shawn is an Obie Award–winning playwright and noted stage and screen actor. He is co-author of the film My Dinner with André and author of the plays The Fever, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Designated Mourner, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors. He lives in New York City.

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