Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Other Desert Cities” as Want to Read:
Other Desert Cities
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Other Desert Cities

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  691 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
In OTHER DESERT CITIES, Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs to visit her parents after a six-year absence. A once-promising novelist, she announces to her family the imminent publication of a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family's history - a wound that her parents don't want reopened.

Brooke has come home to draw a line in the sand and is darin
Paperback, 65 pages
Published November 29th 2011 by Grove Press (first published November 15th 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Other Desert Cities, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

CasiNada No spoiler here, it ends with a twist!

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 19, 2012 WB1 rated it it was ok

"Other Desert Cities" is an intriguing play that was a little too slick and, in the end, slight for this reader. It probably plays better than it reads, epsecially with Stockard Channing and Linda Lavin (who has since left the play). Two very gifted performers. But by the time you finish the play, all the sharp dialogue, the repartee, the shrewd humor turn tiresome. And what is the play about? Very, very little.
It's popular with critics, especially Ben Brantley. His sights are set too too low
Jun 24, 2012 Tung rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for 2012, Other Desert Cities takes place in Palm Springs, California where a young woman (Brooke) returns home for Christmas to visit her parents (Polly and Lyman), brother (Trip), and Aunt Silda. Polly and Lyman are rich, and staunch conservatives (Lyman worked for the Reagan administration), however their children don’t share their conservative values. While the play could have focused on the cliché tension between children who don’t share their par ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Kelly rated it it was ok
Another play about chic sophisticates with emotional problems and first-world worries. Painfully burdened by the indignity of being published in a series of national magazines, the daughter of a movie star (and renowned political honcho) is wracked by anxiety about how her family will react to her new book. So, she leaves her home in Sag Harbor to visit her parents and younger brother for Christmas in Palm Springs. They play tennis, crack wise about Judaism and reality television, go shopping, a ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Karen rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama, saw-it-onstage
Another living room drama in which a Big Family Secret is revealed. Seriously, can American theatre come up with nothing else? The central question is an interesting one: does the writer have the right to tell her family's story for personal gain? Unfortunately, we get sidetracked by lazy jokes, cliche political barbs, and mini-reveals that add little to the story but more drama.
May 15, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
I found all the characters hard to like. I know the audience is supposed to like at least one of these people, but I couldn't figure out which one. The daughter, Brooke, was selfish, the parents were stiff, the aunt was kooky and the son, Trip was sarcastic. In finding it hard to relate to these people, I found it hard to care about how this whole family drama turned out. I was excited about it when I saw the original cast listing, so maybe the actors saved it and are sympathetic on stage, but t ...more
Dec 09, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
I tried to get day-of tickets to OTHER DESERT CITIES recently but refused to pay $120/seat. So I bought the script instead. I was able to picture Stockard Channing, Judith Light, and Rachel Griffiths in the roles, which made the reading fun. It's a quick read with the usual awful/delicious family revelations at the end, including a few good twists. I liked the "conservative parents/liberal kids" overlay, too.

I also bought the script to AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, which I'll read next, when I feel the
Crystal Beran
Mar 30, 2013 Crystal Beran rated it it was amazing
The more I read brilliant plays the more I know that I don't have what it takes to write one. Not that I won't. Not that I'll never have what it takes but damn, playwrights are good at what they do. The dialogue is crisp and flawless. The characters jump right out of the book and into my living room (just ask my neighbors, who had to listen through the walls as I read this). The story moves with ferocity towards it's inevitable end in a way that is impossible to bear and deeply satisfying. It ma ...more
Jun 15, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing
Damn! Just, DAMN! What an intense and uncomfortably brilliant look at family. Unbelievable! Clybourne Park better knock my socks off to validate why it won the Pulitzer and the Tony of this astonishing piece.
Susan Drislane
May 09, 2013 Susan Drislane rated it really liked it
First play I've read in way too many years! This is a moving portrayal of the extensive damage caused by keeping family secrets and the losses we suffer because of fear. Real family tragedy here with comic relief--and insight--from Silda!
Jan 28, 2012 Branden rated it it was ok
plays about dead characters who are never appear on stage are a cop out - especially when the main protagonist is a writer. sowwy!
Wendy Bousfield
Apr 09, 2015 Wendy Bousfield rated it it was amazing
Shelves: play

This witty, heartbreaking, short play is insightful about the different narratives various family members construct about the events they have all experienced. Brooke and her younger brother, Trip, are spending Christmas with their parents, Lyman and Polly Wyeth, in Palm Springs, California. Brooke, her parents, and brother are public figures, involved in politics or mass entertainment. Brooke writes short pieces for popular magazines. Brooke’s father, Lyman was a leading man, ambassador, and fr
Jan 15, 2017 Kenny rated it it was amazing
Yes, it’s another bickering-family play ~~ but oh how this one’s done right ~~ so right, with sharply drawn characters and dialogue that zings into disconcerting territory. Writer Jon Robin Baitz make us believe in this family: we feel the emotional push and pull between five willful, creative, word-savvy and tired people. Clearly it’s taken years to get this bunch to the tipping point: just seconds from a potentially catastrophic family blow-up, but still keeping up their normal routine of josh ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
I saw “Other Desert Cities” on Broadway in February of 2012 and knew when I saw it that I would want to sit down and read it at a later date. Having just recently read it I am surprised that my reaction to seeing it and reading it about 2 years apart was almost the same.
The second act of this play is by far the strongest, mainly because the protagonist of Brooke Wyeth is put in her place a little. She is a whiny, arrogant woman, who pretty much blames her troubles in life on a brother’s suicide
Mar 02, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it
What seems familiar, and superficially dated, about the play is the theme of children, especially children of privilege, rebelling against the politics and values of their parents. I am old enough to remember the late 1960′s and came of age in the 1970′s. Children of the counterculture in conflict with conservative parents over the war in Vietnam and, by extension, all the parents’ “middle-class” values was a common theme in the popular culture of the 1970′s.
Given the lux, mid-century set, were
Mark Johnson
Jul 10, 2012 Mark Johnson rated it liked it
Polly Wyeth returns to Palm Springs to spend Christmas with her parents - lifelong Republicans on first name basis with the Reagans and the Bushes - and her brother, who produces shlock reality TV shows with great monetary success. Polly does not arrive empty handed; her gift to the family is a tell-all memoir already accepted for publication by Knopf, excerpts of which are to run in the February New Yorker magazine. The memoir reveals a deeply buried family secret: the story of the Wyeths' elde ...more
Dec 02, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Other Desert Cities is a solid, well-made play about family conflict. I had a few quibbles with the punctuation, but the characters as expressed through the language almost always ring true, which is to say we understand why they are doing saying what they are doing and saying.
Don't expect anything particularly original about the themes, characterizations, staging, etc; we've seen these characters in one form or another over the years.
Nevertheless, I gave the play four stars (I might have given
Sep 07, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
A very good play about family history and secrets and what they can do to the people closest to us. The Wyeth family is full of secrets that all come to a head one Christmas, when their daughter returns for a visit, her first in years, with a manuscript (autobiography) in tow. Her parents, an very well read, conservative couple with powerful political ties, are chagrined and desperate to stop her from publishing something that will disrupt/destroy their very orderly life, a life that has not rec ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Excellent dialogue, but subtlety is not a strong suit in this play. Here you have an attempt at a clash of generations within a family - the liberal children versus the conservative parents, and an attempt by one of the said children to call out the parents for their hypocrisy. I thought the conflict was well illustrated, and I can definitely see how this would play very well on stage. But again, the subtlety is missing here - where are the shades of grey rather than the stereotypes that are so ...more
Jun 07, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
This is pretty good. good idetifiable characters. good plot that reminds me a lot of A.R. Gurney's, The Cocktail Hour. I think the character, Trip, is very likeable and respectable. My biggest problem with it is that it does seem to pushe one political party. I don't care what party you are, but I don't like it when a play, movie, or anything pushes one party and bashes another. This play was walking the tightrope very skillfuly until towards the very end where it took a nosedive with just a few ...more
Brandon Leighton
Mar 22, 2014 Brandon Leighton rated it liked it
I think the overall structure of this play is good - the way the plot plays out, the tense interaction of the family - but I felt the dialogue was a bit contrived at times. True, the patriarch is an actor, so it makes sense that some of the script is over-the-top. I just felt like the revelation scene, when the family's long-held secret is finally revealed, could be improved. The final scene is touching and heartbreaking. The pain of Brooke's loss and the sense that so many years were needlessly ...more
Apr 14, 2015 evan rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
I didn't really care for this play. I usually don't guess where things are going in plots and the second a possibility was mentioned I knew that was where it was going and worse, I didn't care or think that that would really be a worthwhile ending -- and it wasn't. The mother and father of the family were stereotypical republicans that I had no sympathy for and I felt this play needed to be richer and deeper. I look forward to seeing it performed to see if I was missing something in reading it.
Peter Orvetti
Sep 28, 2015 Peter Orvetti rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this play, which starts off as a well-written but seemingly familiar story about an estranged liberal daughter back home to visit her conservative parents, but which turns into something quite different by the end. I have not yet seen it staged live, but the presentation is simple, as is the language. Baitz is building relationships with the language of the ordinary, not trying to craft flowery speeches. The play does have a good deal of humor in its earliest scenes -- though it is the ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
This is a well-crafted family secrets play, where the secret robs the script of its bite, sad to say. While Baitz's command of dialogue and political philosophy and family is sharp and focused, the revelation at play's end rendered the struggle of its previous pages somewhat irrelevant to me. HOWEVER! I might change my mind about that, were I ever to catch a performance. This is a play crying to be staged, with its parental and sibling relationships only fully flowering when given voice (I assum ...more
Rachelle Urist
Apr 26, 2012 Rachelle Urist rated it really liked it
A lovely read. I'd like to see it. This has depth and considerable resonance, particularly to anyone who's ever dabbled in writing. It speaks to those with strong opinions about autobiographical writing of any sort, and with people who ponder what it means to tell - and uncover - "truth." Life is layered. Relationships are layered. Love, hate, tenderness, resentment, protecting by sharing, protecting by withholding, are all part of the mosaic of family, love, and loyalty.
Marie Fouhey
Apr 17, 2013 Marie Fouhey rated it liked it
The playwright presents vivid and interesting characters in a play with quite a surprise ending. The moral I guess, is that we shouldn't let ourselves define others by their political positions or we risk not seeing them as people. I can't help thinking, however, that the surprise ending seemed to make all the issues that the play had raised earlier to not matter and led to a "happy" ending which otherwise might have been impossible.
Jan 27, 2014 Margaret rated it really liked it
I saw this play last week. I found it engaging, sometime humorous (mostly in the first act), and sad. For me the most likable character was Trip, the brother - the one who tries to keep his sister and parents from confrontation. This play reminded me that two children in the same family can have entirely different views of their childhood. The surprise revelation toward the end presented a different view of the characters. This is well worth seeing.
Jun 21, 2014 Jeff added it
Boy, I liked this a lot. Yes, the wealthy-family-plagued-by-a-secret is one of the hoariest of dramatic cliches, but Baitz is such a skilled playwright with such a sure hold of these characters, that the revelations that inevitably come are quite devastating. I would love to see one of our local theatre groups snatch this up--it would be a winner.
Jan 25, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
For a play, this is perty damn good! I was hesitant at first, but had to read it for my lit class. Brooke wrote a memior about her and her brother, Henery's, life, but she also has to deal with her mom and dad's feelings and reactions to the book when she finally tells them what it is about--Henery's life and his suicide.
Aug 22, 2016 Chloe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
This is one of the best plays I've ever read. We're doing this play at my university this semester and I'm DYING to be a part of it. The ending is one of the best I've ever read, and everything affected me so intensely. What a wonderful play. If you've never read plays before, I think this is a great place to start!
Nov 01, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it
Awesome play - perhaps the best play of the last decade and a deserved Pulitzer Prize nominee.

Family dysfunction as a microcosm of societal division, dark secrets within dark secrets, truth and love, humor, suicide, mental illness, loyalty, all packed into a riveting 3 scenes that go much deeper than the initial liberal critique of Republican values.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Venus in Fur
  • Three Plays: Gruesome Playground Injuries / Animals Out of Paper / Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
  • Clybourne Park
  • 4000 Miles
  • Time Stands Still
  • Good People
  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
  • Dead Man's Cell Phone (TCG Edition)
  • Circle Mirror Transformation
  • Master Class
  • Red Light Winter
  • Red
  • Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Script of the Broadway Play
  • Mr. Marmalade
  • Becky Shaw
  • Far Away
  • Water by the Spoonful
  • Next to Normal
Robbie Baitz was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Edward Baitz, an executive of the Carnation Company. Baitz was raised in Brazil and South Africa before the family returned to California, where he attended Beverly Hills High School.[1] After graduation, he worked as a bookstore clerk and assistant to two producers, and the experiences became the basis for his first play, a one-acter en ...more
More about Jon Robin Baitz...

Share This Book