How dearly I love that the world is super excited right now about reading A PLAY. <3
Harry Potter! I enjoyed this a lot, as a Harry Potter story andHow dearly I love that the world is super excited right now about reading A PLAY. <3
Harry Potter! I enjoyed this a lot, as a Harry Potter story and as a play-reading experience. I love reading plays. Of course it’s a stretch to read something on a page when it’s intended to be spoken and lived with actors and staging, but it’s a fun stretch if you have a little something to base your imagination on. (Ideally, go to the theater a bit and see how it’s done.) I’d love to see this play because I’m sure it’s pretty dazzling, but I have no clue if I will get to, so for me I’m just considering this story as bound in this book.
There are some real Rowling touches to the text, though its writing was the domain of the proper playwright Jack Thorne. In reading, you can tell just how influenced he was, when the scene is set for a busy meeting room at the Ministry, where “they rattle and chatter like all true wizards and witches can”, and the (view spoiler)[time-turner (hide spoiler)] which causes things to “turn over, think a bit, then speed up”, each time. Such fun.
But mostly, really what this read did for me was make me look forward to rereading the books. Part of me wants to go pick them up and do it right now. It made me miss them, partly, remembering how much more interesting and dangerous they got each time. Although this play makes Harry Potter no. 8, it needed to be its own machine, and couldn’t really fit that task, I think. How could it top Deathly Hallows, and what lunatic would want it to? As much as I enjoy the Harry Potter universe’s chewy generational back story and, now, its sequel, this is quieter and less of an epic because that’s what it needs to be.
I also just kind of need to say… something… about the relationship between (view spoiler)[Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (hide spoiler)], because even I found it sort of misleading. I've basically got zero history in fandom, and no inclination to build inferred love interests out of subtext, but I actually genuinely thought that this story was giving us a same sex relationship. Maybe that was dumb? Idk. But it really, really is coded that way, and the insertion of the hetero crush is awkwardly done. (Also, problematic in itself because she's got no role beyond it, which is weird relegation for (view spoiler)[the child of Ron and Hermione (hide spoiler)].) I'm not offended by the misread — male friendship is nice, there's history between the families (though, in fandom, a slashy one?), and Harry Potter was always about friends after all, wasn't it. And I suppose, sadly, it may have been a lot to assume a same sex pairing for the main character. Kind of weird, though. If anyone were to write some long form think pieces about this I would click it.
Either way, there’s a lot in here that wouldn’t be in a normal play. Effects of magic are generously described in directions without shame. Someone throws a chair, and someone else “ducks underneath it and slows the chair with his wand”. Doesn’t that sound cool? I want to see them do that! I want to see them throw spells around with their wands on stage. Because this is for Harry Potter, and you know they figured out how to do it. It would be fun to see, but it’s also fun to play out in your head, to picture the pacing, the looks and the delivery, the magic coming to life. Just as with a novel, I think it’s probably ten times more wonderful in our own imaginations....more
I came down with a cold while reading this book about an apocalyptic flu, so, that's one recommendation.
I slurped this whole thing down in about 36 hoI came down with a cold while reading this book about an apocalyptic flu, so, that's one recommendation.
I slurped this whole thing down in about 36 hours, which is not a thing I often indulge in doing with books any more. I got attached. Yesterday I began reading on a commute into town, as I typically do, but once I got there I saw a park bench and instead of going where I was going I sat down on it to read some more. Then I walked a little ways more but there was another park so I sat down in it too and read. Then I got up to go but there was a cafe in another park so I sat down there also. And I had about a mile to walk through Bloomsbury in London, of which apparently about 70% is made up of darling little parks, so it's kind of a miracle I ever got out of there.
Honestly, part of this high rating for me is just for what it felt like to spend the day in bed today, because that is where I needed to spend my day, drenched in the wonder and paranoia of this new world. I was tense as hell in the woods with Kirsten, I was grim with schadenfreude at the disbelief of the survivors watching the world fall. My own recognizable world — which has disoriented me recently, in real life, with a move to a new country and a house that's half uninhabitable (long story); until things come back to normal (a new normal) in the near future, I've got a little part of me alert in survival mode right now, making do with substitutes and oddments and distractions. This novel's premise was the kind of dystopian downfall that infected the edges of reality, so that a bit of me jumped in fear when I heard a voice or a dog bark, wondering vaguely in the back of my mind if I'd ever see my partner again or if it was already too late. I plowed through the book on purpose, I think, because I knew it wouldn't seem as good if I didn't stay hunched inside it, if I came all the way back to check the world of Facebook and text messages.
The novel itself, maybe, sort of doesn't all work at a five-star level, but I don't feel like being entirely honest about it. There's many threads and I preferred some very much to others, I saw pretty early on how the whole thing would fit together, and I had a few stray logistical questions. (view spoiler)[The jumping back and forth in time between backstory, the pandemic catastrophe itself, and the storyline 20 years afterward makes great authorial sense, but made for one of those reading experiences where you are sometimes dropped off at one point and you want to be somewhere else instead (so you keep reading!). I enjoyed the beginning so much that I was disappointed the first time I flash-forwarded to adult Kirsten and her tough, remaking world. But in fact that quickly became the only place I wanted to be, to keep unraveling the terrible and terrifying danger they are in, and I got the feeling after a while that the rest of the novel's pieces were just stalling to build the suspense there. (hide spoiler)] It didn't impair my enjoyment, though, so are they really flaws? I guess if this were the only novel to survive the end, to be found after or held on to through the obsoleting of literature itself, it might matter that it isn't perfect. So I hope it's just one of an innumerable many that make it, how about.
This book kind of made me want to go get my desert island book and carry a copy with me all the time, just in case. After all, you never know when the desert island is coming, right?
Endings are also beginnings, but let's just hold on as best we can, anyway....more
I used to own this collection in high school, and I saw Picasso performed once and really thought it was great and hilarious.
I also thought it was prI used to own this collection in high school, and I saw Picasso performed once and really thought it was great and hilarious.
I also thought it was pretty great and cool that Steve Martin had this intellectual playwright side to him, which objectively I suppose is still true. But in this post-Shopgirl society in which we live, perhaps the shine is off of him as a pretentious literary figure. I haven't read any of his books for several years, and while I liked them all, they somehow didn't leave a great aftertaste.
I guess that I went to college with too many guys exactly like him, only not famous....more
I don't remember much about this one, but I think it's really interesting to write about the post-college ick of life. While this is a "romantic"-ishI don't remember much about this one, but I think it's really interesting to write about the post-college ick of life. While this is a "romantic"-ish comedy, it's also about that, and I think I'd appreciate that all the more with a revisit.
It's a bummer that Wendy Wasserstein isn't around for a lot of reasons, but one thing I would have loved is to have read her inevitable reply to the SIt's a bummer that Wendy Wasserstein isn't around for a lot of reasons, but one thing I would have loved is to have read her inevitable reply to the Susan Patton flap this spring, about marriage and the Ivy League. This is a play, and a subject, crying out for an update in this decade. There is still a lot to say.
I remember reading this during the part of the spring of 12th grade when I was waiting to find out whether I would be able to finance going away to college, which of course was a momentous and emotional time. So I was probably a little over-invested in this play -- I also read Three Sisters and got mad at anyone who suggested it was funny they never get to Moscow -- but it made an impression. I don't even remember what happens in the play, or if it's good, or if I like it, but for me that didn't actually matter then.
I read this originally out of a copy of the collection that everyone seems to have, which I don't any more. I read it more than once, but it was definI read this originally out of a copy of the collection that everyone seems to have, which I don't any more. I read it more than once, but it was definitely more than ten years ago....more
I've seen this performed several times (both in 2001 and this past year), and it's one of my favorite productions of anything. I've never actually ownI've seen this performed several times (both in 2001 and this past year), and it's one of my favorite productions of anything. I've never actually owned the script! But all the same.
So much of this play is performance, with the water, and the choreography. I don't really remember if it's possible for that to be anywhere near as evocative on the page. Those things, I guess, aren't, but many of the statements inside the stories are beautiful and worthwhile to read as well as perform....more
I felt very edgy while I read this -- a current-events (of 1997) monologue play performed by the author, about his own travel experience -- but of couI felt very edgy while I read this -- a current-events (of 1997) monologue play performed by the author, about his own travel experience -- but of course can't remember whether it is in fact politically edgy at all. Or if I'm any judge.
Besides, I read the majority of this tucked up on my best friend's waterbed while everyone else in the house was drinking and having fun. Because I was nothing if not super edgy at high school parties....more
This is a secret kickass present for the Sondheim fan in your life. It's a really pretty picture book version of the story in the musical -- and so beThis is a secret kickass present for the Sondheim fan in your life. It's a really pretty picture book version of the story in the musical -- and so becomes a fairy-tale bedtime story, with the originality and twists of the theater....more
From what I remember, this was a really well-balanced book with the right amounts of celebrity anecdotes (e.g. Ethel Merman being insane), crazed showFrom what I remember, this was a really well-balanced book with the right amounts of celebrity anecdotes (e.g. Ethel Merman being insane), crazed show-must-go-on last-minute creative-genius anecdotes (e.g. "Comedy Tonight"), insider narratives on how the shows almost went (e.g. the original "Being Alive"), plus hard-to-come-by details about his generally reserved personal life (spoilers: he is a cranky pants, sometimes with rather young boyfriends). It's also made a useful reference book during the occasional post-theater debate, if you're in the right company to have them. With all the enthusiasm of Finishing the Hatters recently, I'd expect the same audience would love this. (If they don't already have it.)
I definitely did love it years ago when I read it, but I was mainly doing so through the happy-colored lenses of "I wonder if Stephen Sondheim and I would be friends? DUH OF COURSE WE WOULD BE FRIENDS! We're so alike!" (Hindsight: um, no, we would not really be friends; we are not really alike!)
I remember spending a lot of time reading this in the house of my high school's theater, during a stagecraft class where there was never anything to do. I thought I'd get to hang out with theater people, but no cigar. Hung out with Steve instead. (And sometimes Tennessee.)...more
I remember, once, reading that Auburn said the first act's curtain line was always a first draft, always something to change later, until he didn't chI remember, once, reading that Auburn said the first act's curtain line was always a first draft, always something to change later, until he didn't change it. That it's like a reluctant hit.
I also remember at the theater once, during an intermission for August: Osage County, Meg and I launching a product idea for "Act Break T-Shirts," that would come into the lobby at intermission at plays with amazing curtain lines, to sell you merchandise with the slogans. But the only ones we could actually think of to sell were the one we'd just seen (view spoiler)[("I'M RUNNING THINGS NOW!") (hide spoiler)], and this one (view spoiler)[("I wrote it.") (hide spoiler)]....more