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Essays

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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)...Its 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 Manhattans 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 Peoples History of the United States

“Wally Shawns 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 Shawns 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 Shawns 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 were 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. Shawns language, his unmistakable, original voice, felicitous, is unadorned, elegant, immediate, true. Hes also a brilliant interviewer, as everyone whos seen My Dinner With Andre (which is just about everyone) knows. And, of course, hes 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

Wallace Shawn is an Obie Award-winning playwright and a noted stage and screen actor (Star Trek, Gossip Girl, The Princess Bride, Toy Story). His plays The Designated Mourner and Marie and Bruce have recently been produced as films. He is co-author of the movie My Dinner with Andre and author of the plays The Fever, The Designated Mourner, Aunt Dan and Lemon, and Grasses of a Thousand Colours.

Review:

"Caveat emptor: these witty, ironic, and observant essays by Wallace Shawn are brought to audio in a shoddy production with such poor sound quality that listeners may justifiably demand their money back. The microphone skips in and out so that parts of Shawn's narration are almost completely lost. In a reproduction of the 2004 interview that Shawn conducted with MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, the volume modulation varies so widely in the interview's second half that listening becomes irritating and difficult. (And the narration itself is confusing: Shawn plays Chomsky while Brian Jones plays Shawn, a role reversal that will sound bizarre to listeners who have already spent more than an hour with Shawn reading as himself.) Advice to Shawn's many fans: buy the hardcover of these worthy essays or seek out the pieces online; free versions of some are available on various Web sites or even on youtube.com. A Haymarket hardcover. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

Probing essays by actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, read by the author in unabridged audiobook format

Synopsis:

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.

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.

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 the co-author of My Dinner with Andre, The Fever, and Aunt Dan and Lemon, among other works.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781608460045
Author:
Shawn, Wallace
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Read by:
Jones, Brian
Read:
Jones, Brian
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Politics-Political Science
Edition Description:
Compact Disk
Abridged:
Y
Publication Date:
20100531
Binding:
COMPACT DISC
Language:
English
Dimensions:
5 x 5 in 6 oz

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Political Science
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Essays New Compact Disc
0 stars - 0 reviews
$36.00 Backorder
Product details pages Haymarket Books - English 9781608460045 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Caveat emptor: these witty, ironic, and observant essays by Wallace Shawn are brought to audio in a shoddy production with such poor sound quality that listeners may justifiably demand their money back. The microphone skips in and out so that parts of Shawn's narration are almost completely lost. In a reproduction of the 2004 interview that Shawn conducted with MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, the volume modulation varies so widely in the interview's second half that listening becomes irritating and difficult. (And the narration itself is confusing: Shawn plays Chomsky while Brian Jones plays Shawn, a role reversal that will sound bizarre to listeners who have already spent more than an hour with Shawn reading as himself.) Advice to Shawn's many fans: buy the hardcover of these worthy essays or seek out the pieces online; free versions of some are available on various Web sites or even on youtube.com. A Haymarket hardcover. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by ,
Probing essays by actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, read by the author in unabridged audiobook format
"Synopsis" by , 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.

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.

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