Becky's Reviews > Equus

Equus by Peter Shaffer
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's review
Mar 21, 11

bookshelves: age-adult-books, nonfiction
Read in March, 2011

This was the first play I've really read since college, and WOW. I couldn't put it down. Peter Shaffer, perhaps best known for "Amadeus," heard in passing a horrific story of a crime committed against horses. It stuck in his brain and compelled him -- "I had to create a mental world in which the deed could be made comprehensible." In his presentation of the teen boy Alan and his world, I think he succeeded, creating a dark story on a minimal stage that draws from religion, childhood, faith, domestication, sex, and psychology.

Also, I **love** this paperback cover. For those who know my love of the book Forget All the Rules About Graphic Design, this is a perfect example of making one image say two things -- or in this case, three things. A boy, a horse, and a religious icon. It also mimics the stark set of the stage as I imagined it. Brilliant.

Favorite quotes:

"It's just professional menopause. Everyone gets it sooner or later."

"What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over, does it?"

"'Look! Life is only comprehensible through a thousand local Gods. And not just the old dead ones with names like Zeus -- no, but living Geniuses of Place and Person! And not just Greece but modern England! Spirits of certain trees, certain curves of brick wall, certain chip shops, if you like, and slate roofs -- just as of certain frowns in people and slouches'...I'd say to them -- 'Worship as many as you can see -- and more will appear!'"

"Why? Moments snap together like magnets, forging a chain of shackles. Why? I can trace them. I can even, with time, pull them apart again. But why at the start they were ever magnetized at all -- just those particular moments of experience and no others -- I don't know. And nor does anyone else."

"Can you think of anything worse one can do to anybody than take away their worship? ...What else has he got? Think about him. He can hardly read. He knows no physics or engineering to make the world real for him. No paintings to show him how others have enjoyed it. No music except television jingles. No history except tales from a desperate mother. No friends. Not one kid to give him a joke, or make him know himself more moderately. He's a modern citizen for whom society doesn't exist."

"His pain. His own. He made it. go through life and call it yours -- your life -- you first have to get your own pain. Pain that's unique to you. You can't just dip into the common bin and say 'That's enough!'"

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