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Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  921 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein
Hardcover, 461 pages
Published August 18th 2011 by Penguin Press
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Lisa Vegan
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who’s interested in the woman or her work; those who enjoy well written biographies
4 stars, star off because of the lack of humor within these pages

I’m completely wrung out after reading this book, and felt that way during my entire reading of it. More on that later.

But first: This is an excellent book. It’s well written and fascinating. It is exactly what a biography should be. It looks as though it would have been great fun to research and write, as the author interviewed so many family members, friends, acquaintances of her subject, as well as made use of written records,
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I started by skimming this book, and then I half decided I wouldn't bother reading the whole thing. Then I started it this morning and couldn't put it down. How lucky for Miss Wendy to grow up in the lap of privilege which sure doesn't hurt when you want to pursue a career in the arts. That and having a brother who is rich as Croesus. The children were sickly, for the most part: an elder sister died of brain cancer, an even older brother had been spirited off as a child with alleged retardation. ...more
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am madly in love with Wendy Wasserstein in that oh-em-gee-your-plays-rock-my-world kind of way, so reading Wendy and the Lost Boys by Julie Salamon was a no-brainer. I should give you a bit of background first...

About six months ago I realized that I was seeing a lot of shows but not reading many plays, so I took it upon myself to start reading one play a week to pick up on a large chunk of work that I was unfamiliar with. To simplify my process, I choose one playwright at a time and read thei
Karen Bergreen
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was a huge fan of Wendy Wasserstein. I saw the Heidi Chronicles on Broadway with my four best high school chums shortly after we graduated from college. I also saw the Sisters Rosenzweig some time later. I studied her plays for acting class. I met her briefly a couple of times, and yes, she did look homeless. I also had the occasion to meet Bruce several times. And boy, was Salomon's take on him pitch perfect.

I say all of this as a sort of disclaimer (and I am a huge name dropper!!) because I
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: theatre people
This book was given me by a friend, who called it "a page-turner." The friend and I both worked on the Playwrights Horizons production of "Isn't It Romantic," and also with many of the theatre people who populate the book, so for us, it definitely was. Contrasting the private Wasserstein with the public Wasserstein, the book reveals an ambitious, talented, driven, social woman who defied uppercrust conventions in her appearance, but was buffeted about privately by traditional societal expectatio ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of playwright Wendy Wasserstein who died in 2006 at the age of 55. I knew Wasserstein through her plays -- which were all about personal identity and relationships, and so well reflected the Boomer generation -- and her New Yorker articles. This narrative chronicles her life -- from her childhood in a family of Jewish immigrant parents to her undergraduate years at Mt. Holyoke and her graduate studies at Yale Drama School, through struggles and success ...more
Theo Chen
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not gonna lie - when I reached the end of the book I felt like crying. I guess it was because the book made me feel like I really knew who Wendy Wasserstein was, her funny and bubbly personality shine through the pages and her admirable resilience is awe inspiring. The book was really fantastic and I wish Wendy Wasserstein was still with us today to spoil us with her endless wit or flash a great smile at us.
Rachelle Urist
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I was wholly unfamiliar with Wendy Wasserstein but I love reading about writers, and her life featured so many elements I enjoy reading about -- women's colleges, New York City, the arts scene, and complicated families. This is an authorized biography and I was apprehensive at first that would mean a glossing over of anything unsavory about Wasserstein or her family. Instead, I found it to be measured, fair, and detailed (albeit dry from time to time).

Wasserstein's life has elements of the fai
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
An incredibly fun read not only about Wendy Wasserstein but her generation of playwrights. It reads more like an extensive magazine profile than a traditional biography, punctuated with incisive quotations and observations from her family and friends not only about Wendy and her work. While largely reflecting upon the '60s and the '80s, her potent themes examining "uncommon women" (familiarly set in the context of the seven sisters colleges), family, and aging still feel incredibly fresh and con ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'll start by saying that I have very little knowledge of popular theater and knew next to nothing about Wasserstein before starting this book. But I am interested in any writer's creative process and especially the collaborative effort of theater. This book is about the life of a busy, smart Jewish woman in Manhattan with a broad and complicated social life. This book is not about artistic effort, creative collaboration and exploration, surprisingly not about the impact of the AIDS epidemic to ...more
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I've always been fascinated by Wendy Wasserstein... Now that I have read her biography, I am even more intrigued. What an interesting life, what a talent! As the Author notes, Ms. W had a war within herself, of the confident and the frightened, much of from the times (1960-80s) and some from her family. Her mother never seemed to forgive her for not settling down, marrying and having children. The problem was that Ms. W kept falling in love with gay men including Christopher Durang, Andre Bishop ...more
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is really a remarkable biography -- incredibly researched and about a fascinating subject. I was not overly familiar with Wasserstein's work but I was captivated. Wendy is described so fully and objectively that the reader can't help but feel that they have gotten to know her. It would provide excellent fodder for a book club discussion.
Sarah Sullivan
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've always deeply admired Wendy Wasserstein and, as with so many readers/viewers of her plays, felt deeply connected to her as a writer and the characters she put onstage. This biography is intricately researched, warmly and honestly told and completely satisfying.
Ellen Curran
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sad, happy and uncompromising portrait of a complex and fascinating woman. So talented, so giving, so human. I had the honor of hearing Ms. Wasserstein speak at my college commencement, where she urged us not to live down to expectations. This book shows me she did not.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Immensely readable and thoroughly researched, this definitive biography of Wendy Wasserstein deftly explores the many facets of her unique personality. Ultimately what emerges is a fascinating, frustrating, highly talented woman who was taken too soon.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
An interesting biography of Wendy Wasserstein. A look back at the theater world and this talented playwright who died way too young.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! This was a biography that was so well written and about such an interesting person that it was a page turner.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've wanted to read this book for a long time. The Heidi Chronicles was a formative play for me and I wanted to know more about the author. This book was wonderfully researched and a fast paced portrait of the author. I think Julie Salamon is a wonderful writer and I want to read more by her. That said, the subject is really hard. Mainly because despite her success so much of her life had elements of disappointment or more specifically odd kinds of insecurity. But I think the book portrayed that ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking. Wasserstein's life was fascinating, and Salamon does an exemplary job in guiding you through it. I am not really a fan of Uncommon Women and The Heidi Chronicles, but Saloman's book convinced me that I need to re-read them, and I have ordered copies of Wasserstein's later plays and essay collections. Her life resonated for me in a way that the two aforementioned plays did not. We have nothing in common other than being born in the same generation, but it turns out that alone can g ...more
Jill Meyer
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Julie Salamon's new biography of Wendy Wasserstein is a critical look at both Wasserstein's life and work. It is very well-written - as are all books by Salamon - but the woman who emerges on Salamon's pages still seems like an enigma. I'm not sure I "knew" Wendy Wasserstein any better after reading the book than before I read it. And that's not Salamon's fault; I think Wendy Wasserstein was so many things - each different to every person in her life - that I'm not sure there was full person the ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, drama
Three and a half. Went back and forth on this. The first three quarters are very strong, likely due to the willingness of interviewees to reminisce in great detail about the early years. As the book progresses and things get thornier, details get foggier. The last few chapters in particular were a disappointment; not that I needed razor-sharp ghoulish detail but it did seem as though suddenly Salamon's sources were close-lipped about the way things were sorted after Wendy's death.

Also I was nev
Sue Seligman
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the theatre
I got this biography at the library because I had always heard bits and pieces about the life of this extraordinary playwright and I knew she died at a relatively young age, after having a baby "late" in life, at age 48. My first exposure to her plays was seeing a production of "Uncommon Women and Others" on PBS during the 1970s. This play depicted the struggles of several female graduates from an all women's school during the tumultous period of women's rights and the weakening gender stereotyp ...more
Wendy and the Lost Boys is a fascinating biography that ferrets out some of the secrets and sorrows that Wendy Wasserstein hid beneath her giggly, lovably self-deprecating public persona. In some respects, Wasserstein was a typical Baby Boomer woman: breaking the glass ceiling in the '70s, giving up her bohemian roots and becoming part of the Establishment during the '80s and '90s, etc. In other respects, she was completely atypical. Her parents, siblings, friendships, and romantic relationships ...more
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A good biography of Wendy Wasserstein, although I'm not sure that anyone really knew Wendy Wasserstein all that well, I still enjoyed learning more about her. It was clear from many of her plays that Wendy, even though smart, funny, and very witty, suffered from inferiority complexes about her looks and her achievements, especially when measured against those of her siblings and the high expectations of her mother. This book delves into those issues as well as her early difficulties in deciding ...more
Carrie Sue
Sep 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a compelling story, but the author's style was not as clear and clean as I'd have liked. Her editor should have pared the language down and perhaps done some reorganizing of the chapters. Nonetheless, it drew me in and more than anything conveyed these two messages: the ongoing and sometimes excruciating tension many women feel between vocation and childbearing/lasting romantic relationships. Although luck and chance plays a great deal in one's vocation, it is also true that one is much ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a really interesting bio of Wasserstein. I related a lot as we were born at the same time and in the same place (Brooklyn). She went to hebrew school where my husband and I were married.
As she lived in the same time and place as I did it brought back so many memories. But then we went in very different directions.

She had a difficult life, it seems, and it ended much too soon. She lived a life of self-interest.
I'm not saying she was a "bad" person, but I think she was an unhappy person. S
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
So many echoes of my own life growing up in NYC, although I'm 10 years younger than Wasserstein. She attended the Ethical Culture School in Brooklyn (Who knew there was one in Brooklyn?)and I went to the one in Manhattan. She mentions an early Al Pacino role (The Indian Wants the Bronx) that my mother always raved about and another role (the Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel) that I remember seeing him in. She encounters and gets to know many of the people who shaped the cultural world of NYC that ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the bad things about being a librarian is that I read reviews about so many potentially interesting books to read and then put them on hold so the bad part is when they all come in at the same time which is what happened to me recently. I got this one as well as the Roger Ebert memoir and Jane Lynch's book. So I read Jane's first and loved it then moved onto this one and didn't put it down until I finished reading it (not only because it is fascinating but because I knew there would be no ...more
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Imprinted Lives: Wendy Wasserstein biography 8 6 Aug 30, 2011 03:24PM  
The Play's the Th...: Talented femail playwrights 1 9 Aug 30, 2011 01:13PM  
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Julie Salamon has written ten books in many genres, most recently Mutt's Promise, illustrated by Jill Weber. Their previous collaboration was Cat in the City. Julie's other books include New York Times bestsellers Wendy and the Lost Boys and The Christmas Tree (also illustrated by Jill Weber--a new edition was released Fall, 2016), as well as Hospital, The Devil’s Candy, Facing the Wind , The Net ...more

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“The Playwrights Unit offered writers an alternative to Broadway, where the financial stakes were high and led to creative decisions that weren’t necessarily based on artistic considerations. At the Unit money didn’t matter, because there wasn’t any. Audiences came to see works in progress by new playwrights, some destined for obscurity, others for fame. Among those in the latter category were Sam Shepard, Adrienne Kennedy, Lanford Wilson, and John Guare. Moss introduced every play, explaining that the work shouldn’t be judged as a finished product and that the audience reaction was part of the process. “I wasn’t apologizing,” he said, “just trying to set a lens through which people could look at the plays.” 0 likes
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