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Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wassersteinby Julie Salamon
"With Wendy and the Lost Boys, Julie Salamon — a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal who has published numerous nonfiction books but no prior biographies — has written the perfect biography for Wasserstein's legions of fans, a book as entertaining and personable as its subject. She underscores how the playwright, a 'quintessential baby boomer, part of the generation captivated and characterized by Peter Pan,' carefully manipulated her own narrative, revealing different aspects of herself to different people, using 'humor as a dodge, intimacy as a smoke screen.'" Heller McAlpin, NPR (Read the entire NPR review)
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the first woman playwright to win a Tony Award, Wendy Wasserstein was a Broadway luminary. But with her high-pitched giggle and unkempt curls, she projected an image of warmth and familiarity. Everyone knew Wendy Wasserstein. Or thought they did. In Wendy and the Lost Boys, Salamon delicately pieces together the many fractured narratives of Wendyandrsquo;s lifeandmdash;the stories (often contradictory) that she shared amongst friends and family, the half truths of her plays and essays, the confessions and camouflage present even in her own journal writing--to reveal Wendyandrsquo;s most expertly crafted character: herself.
Born in Brooklyn on October 18, 1950 to Polish Jewish immigrant parents, Wendy was the youngest of Lola and Morris Wassersteinandrsquo;s five children. Her mother had big dreams for her children, and they didnandrsquo;t disappoint: Sandra, Wendyandrsquo;s glamorous sister, became a high-ranking corporate executive at a time when Fortune 500 companies were an impenetrable boys club. Their brother Bruce became a billionaire superstar of the investment banking world. Yet behind the familyandrsquo;s remarkable success was a fiercely guarded world of private tragedies.
Wendy perfected the family art of secrecy while cultivating a densely populated inner circle. Her long time friends included theater elite such as playwright Christopher Durang, Lincoln Center Artistic Director Andrandeacute; Bishop, New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, the many women of the theater for whom she served as both mentor and ally, and countless others. Yet almost no one knew that Wendy was pregnant when, at age forty-eight, she was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital to deliver Lucy Jane three months premature. The paternity of her daughter remains a mystery. At the time of Wendyandrsquo;s tragically early death less than six years later, very few were aware that she was gravely ill. The cherished confidante to so many, Wendy privately endured her greatest heartbreaks alone.
At once a moving portrait of an uncommon woman, and a nuanced study of the generation she came to represent, Wendy and The Lost Boys uncovers the magic of Wendyandrsquo;s work. A daughter of the 1950s, an artist that came of age during the freewheeling 1970s, a power woman in 1980s New York, and a single mother at the turn of the century, Wendyandrsquo;s very life spoke to the tensions of an era of great change, for women in particular. Salamon brings each distinct moment to vibrant life, always returning to Wendyandrsquo;s worksandmdash;The Heidi Chronicles and othersandmdash;to show her in the free space of the theater. Here Wendy spoke in the most intimate of terms about everything that matters most: family and love, dreams and devastation. And that is the Wendy of Neverland, the Wendy who will never grow old.
"Salamon (Hospital) brings full circle the life of Wendy Wasserstein (1950 — 2006) in this insightful biography of the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning playwright. Despite the autobiographical nature of her work, Wasserstein, as Salamon underscores, was a fiercely private person, doling out personal details to a select few in her large social circle. The youngest child of Polish-Jewish immigrants, Wasserstein was raised in Brooklyn and urged from an early age to succeed, as her four older siblings had, in her career and in parenthood. She graduated from Mount Holyoke and got graduate degrees from City College and Yale School of Drama. Her play Uncommon Women and Others put Wasserstein on the New York theater radar in 1977. Her professional and personal life became increasingly busier, with the production of The Heidi Chronicles (1988) and The Sisters Rosensweig (1992). Salamon highlights Wasserstein's close relationships with the men she called her 'husbands,' men (primarily gay) to whom she was often attracted, and how these friendships changed when she asked some to donate sperm when she decided to have a child (Lucy Jane was born in 1999, most likely through an anonymous donor). Salamon's thoroughly researched account of a too-short life brings readers as close as anyone to such a private and complex woman. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Julie Salamon is the author of Hospital, about Maimonides Hospital, as well as The New York Times bestseller The Christmas Tree; the true-crime book Facing the Wind; the novel White Lies; the film classic The Devilandrsquo;s Candy; a family memoir, The Net of Dreams; and Rambamandrsquo;s Ladder. Previously a reporter and critic with The Wall Street Journal, she has also written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and The New Republic.
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