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The American Dream & The Zoo Story

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  7,849 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Albee is one of our most important American playwrights. And nowhere is his dramatic genius more apparent than in two of his probing early works, The American Dream and The Zoo Story.

The New Yorker hailed The American Dream as "unique ... brilliant ... a comic nightmare, fantasy of the highest order." The story of one of America's most
Paperback, 127 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Plume (first published January 1st 1959)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  7,849 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mix Lewis Carroll with Jacques Tati, as one critic
suggested when reviewing "The American Dream," and
you have a lethal, hilarious and very satiric cocktail. This may be his Best Play. The cast includes : Mommy, Daddy and Young Man (who explains his price, for those who can afford it, to the childless duo). Albee's comedy puts you in stitches - then he yanks 'em out.
Ashley Adams
While The Zoo Story is one of my all time favorite plays, The American Dream is an altogether different artistic endeavor. It explores how fulfilling empty societal roles (such as Mommy and Daddy) can lead to a broken shell of an American Dream, bereft of emotion and focused only on making money.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
For modernism that seems to have been written last week, Albee delivers a passionate account of two different views of Americana. Just under the surface, I always believed, Albee was barely in control of himself, pushing the envelope of absurdity because it was more than absurd to him: he makes it seem all to real, the characters not directly representative but rather being an analogy of whom they seem
An American Dream is about, largely enough of the disintegration of society through lack of con
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, drama-club
Holy Crackers! Zoo Story is fantastic! Youthful rage and the kind of shock I've sought for months. RIP E. Albee. You'll be missed.
Laura Leaney
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I can't remember the last time I read "The Zoo Story" but its power hasn't lessened over the years. Here in his first play, Edward Albee is already peerless in his command of vitriolic dialogue unleashing a fury against the status quo, an incisive rage that he sustained throughout his career. He may stylize the anger with the satirical "The American Dream" but even in this latter one-act, Albee's poisoned pen drips blood. Albee quote: "That's what happens in plays, yes? The shit hits the fan."
Anas Abu Samhan
5 Stars for a play for the first time.
One of the GREATEST plays I've ever read in my life.

Highly recommended fellows :).
Hasan Makhzoum
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this short drama tinged with pitch-black comedy that provokes wry smiles.
The play consists of one scene: A man decides to break his loneliness by meeting instantly a random person on his way out of the zoo. This strange meeting culminates in a tragic and absurd situation that reflects Albee’s perspective on the absurdity of life.
The conversations alternate with long monologues. Their awkwardness remind Ionesco’s emphasis on the breakdown of the communication.
The story to
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“The Zoo Story” is a play that has two characters, one setting (a bench in Central Park), and performed, is 15 minutes. Jerry and Peter have brief exchanges that take on an importance such that the dialogue plays out as an interrogation of communication itself for the audience. Jerry challenges Peter’s use of formalities or his niceties or even phrases:

PETER: My dear fellow, I...
JERRY: Don’t my dear fellow me.
PETER: Was I patronizing? I believe I was; I’m sorry. But you see, your question about
This is an excellent book containing two of Albee's earliest masterworks. This is a crash course in the Absurd way of life and understanding. I'm an Aburdist and not even Camus or Kafka could do for the Absurd what Albee did with it in these two one act plays. Of course, Albee would elevate the philosophy and expand upon it even more with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but The Zoo Story as well as The American Dream serve as a quick one-two-punch to the existential gut, The Zoo Story having the ...more
Courtney Lindwall
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Theatre kids, Dark Comedians
Recommended to Courtney by: Required
Shelves: 2011, required
I realized I forgot to add this to my shelves when I read it in fall 2011. So I'll just do a brief review now.
These plays were dark, surreal, funny, and kinda metafiction-y. I really enjoyed them.

The American Dream is a story about some fucked up parents and the fucked up relationship they had with their past son. Also, a sassy grandma. Okay, it's mostly about the sassy grandma.

The Zoo Story is about a strange encounter in a park between an average joe and a slightly-less-than-average, possibl
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I only read The American Dream. It is Albee's look at how the American Dream has changed over time. He seems to believe that today the American Dream is only about good looks, shallowness, and materialism. I don't disagree with the analysis since many Americans glorify movie actors, sports figures and wealthy corporate owners. However, the play was boring and repetitious. Even though it is a one-act play, it was way too long! This was supposed to be a comedy, but I found only one line to be humo ...more
Aug 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I guess i'm into absurdist tales of alienation from modern life? I don't even necessarily catch all the themes or symbols, partly I like it just because it's so funny.

From The American Dream

Daddy (offstage): Mommy! I can't find Grandma's television and I can't find the Pekinese either!
Mommy (offstage): Isn't that funny! And I can't find the water.
Grandma: Heh, heh, heh. I told them everything was hidden.
Mrs Barker: Did you hide the water too?
Grandma (puzzled): No. No, I didn't do *that*.
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Peter and Jerry are two men with very different stories and lives, one is living the American Dream while the other is struggling to find acceptance and a place in the world. But differences sometimes lead to coincidences and that's what happens in Central Park, they coincide in that bench; and they have quite a chaotic conversation...

“People can't have everything they want. You should know that; it's a rule; people can have some of the things they want, but they can't have everything.
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Albee has long been one of my favourite playwrights, if not my all-time favourite (suck it, Shakespeare), and The American Dream was as poignant as it was dead on. And it will remain to be. Zoo Story just blew me away, and I later went on to work with it in a community theatre group.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5ish these were great
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, absurdism
"Won't you take off your dress?"
Claire Fry
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
These are some damn near perfect plays. The American Dream is hysterically funny commentary on the American nuclear family and Zoo Story is a haunting deterioration of what it feels like to talk to a mentally unhinged person.
Sarah Valerie
We read The Zoo Story in class as a way to help understand the Marxist theory and analytic lens, and it was a very insightful tale to read.
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Glancing at all the previous goodreads reviews for this book, I see that most people prefer The Zoo Story to The American Dream. And that, my friends, is why I am special: I jump the other way.

Although, to be absolutely honest, I'm not a huge fan of either one. I think Albee might be a tad violent for my taste--not violent in the sense that his plays contain violence (which these do), but violent in the sense that my overwhelming impression of these plays is one of violence. After reading them,
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
"The Zoo Story"
After reading about 15 pages of "The Zoo Story" it became painfully obvious that it served as the template for "Riverside Drive," a Woody Allen play I recently read in his "Writer's Block" collection.

But don't take my word for it: (From the NY Times):

All that said, ''Writer's Block'' is on the stage and not on the screen because it is meant, in part, as a tribute to playwrights to whom Mr. Allen evidently feels indebted. In ''Riverside Drive,'' a comfortably well-dressed middle
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-lit, plays
Okay, this collection is my first exposure to Edward Albee, and I have to say that his writings are bizarre in a way that catch me off-guard constantly. I also have Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which I will start soon. I think I can only take doses of this playwright at a time, however.

As for this collection, I will share my thoughts for each play respectively.

The Zoo Story:
This play is my favorite of the two, and it is bizarre in a way that leaves me just kind of sitting there confounded f
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have not read The American Dream; it is The Zoo Story which I read with great interest and excitement years ago during a Grade 12 English class. My group was to perform a scene from The American Dream, but we were finished preparing it and there was still time left over. So seeing this other play contained in the same volume, I decided it would be a good way to spend my time.

I was rewarded. It is a simple one-act play: two men meet on a park bench, get into a conversation, and it rolls on from
Shlomo Touhis
This book, composed of two plays by the famous writer, Edward Albee, was quite interesting as well as enjoyable. I found the first play, The Zoo Story, especially fascinating. With the combination of casual, relatable, shocking, and a curious sense of humor as well as drama, this play was very moving. The interaction that the reader experiences between the two characters, Peter and Jerry, is positively awe-spired. I cannot begin to describe how especially surprising it was to read about this par ...more
Ahmed Jendeya
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
A close and fast shot on the human it can be so brutal and wild some situations can reveal that monster inside ..that we thought it was caged only in the zoo!
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
For me, "The American Dream" and "Zoo Story" were both mind-blowing plays. Albee touches on the idiosyncracies of the Theatre of the Absurd, and the idea of Existentialism. He also challenges the traditional state of normalcy and the widely accepted idea of the American Dream. Both plays seem displaced, as if ripped from a page in a novel. Although Albee dives right into the scenes, he is able to provide enough details for you to comprehend his messages.

What I couldn't figure out was the purpos
Tony Romine
Two works here by noted playwright Edward Albee. They are both one-acts, very brief bizarre plays that pack quite a punch.

The Zoo Story concerns two men talking in Central Park one afternoon. One is well to do publisher and the other a lonely drifter who has quite a story to tell. In the end, both of them are changed forever, not in any metaphorical sense either. It's the stronger of the two in this collection and is notable for being Albee's first work that ever made it to the stage.

The America
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Zoo Story, I love. It's a play that everyone reads in high school and finds totally amazing. I did, at least. Looking over it again, I still love it. I love the alienation, the loneliness the character who commits suicide describes. The desperation, and the weird kinkiness of him, in foisting his death on a stranger with a wife, two girls, and a parakeet (or something like that).

Did not like American Dream. In fact, hated it. I read it recently for the first time, after seeing a production of i
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Because I'm old! When you're old you gotta do something. When you get old, you can't talk to people because people snap at you. When you get so old, people talk to you that way. That's why you become deaf, so you won't be able to hear people talking to you that way. And that's why you go and hide under the covers in the big soft bed, so you won't feel that house shaking from people talking to you that way. What's why old people die, eventually. People talk to them that way. I've got to go and g ...more
Alice Urchin
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I'd already read (and thoroughly enjoyed) a Zoo Story when I picked this up. It was my first Albee play, and it lead me to read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which became one of my favorite plays of all time. I didn't like The American Dream as much as I like the two other plays of his that I've read—maybe because it seemed less polished—but it has a lot of thematic and stylistic similarities in common with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which I enjoyed. From his preface, I believe that Alb ...more
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Edward Franklin Albee III was an American playwright known for works including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Zoo Story, The Sandbox and The American Dream. His works are considered well-crafted and often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflected a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights ...more
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“I have learned that neither kindness nor cruelty by themselves; independent of each other, creates any effect beyond themselves; and I have learned that the two combined, together, at the same time, are the teaching emotion. And what is gained is loss.” 3 likes
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