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Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness: Essays, a Play, Two Poems, and a Prayer

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  123 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In this first collection of writings by Tony Kushner, including his latest play Slavs!, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright grapples with the timeless issues of bigotry, war, faith, love, as well as tackling the contemporary topics as AIDS, gay rights and the moral horrors of the Gulf War.
Paperback, 276 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Theatre Communications Group
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Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So insightful, almost scarily so. Really interesting from this fangirl's point of view, to glimpse how many of Kushner's thoughts are outlined, sometimes in embryonic form, and constitute significant themes in 'Angels in America'. Still convinced Kushner is in fact a prophet (to which I'm sure he would reply, 'F*** you!').
Rob Wolman
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Okay this book is definitely spotty and in a way not deserving of five stars except MAN CAN THIS GUY WRITE!!! The essays on sex and sexuality are stunning, worth the price of the book alone--must reads!!! The poem at the end is amazing. Kushner is a national treasure.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book comprises several of Tony Kushner's smaller works in the mid-90's. The most substantial portion of the text is Kushner's Slavs! play, which acts as something of a sidenote to 'Angels in America.' It's not exactly an easy burden to accompany one of the greatest American plays of the 20th century, but Slavs! brings up some interesting overlapping points on the nature of change in the context of the fall of the Great Experiment of Socialism. Kushner seems to be at his most fluent writing ...more
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
As other goodreads members have commented, the essays are a little uneven, though particularly important is Kushner's concept of tolerance in "Some Questions About Tolerance." His prayer is emotional, his poems are seductive, but, for me, the crowning achievement of this collection is Slavs. It's funny and scathing. As usual, nothing is sacred, and no social or economic system is safe, not even love or hope. What's more, this play probably wins the prize for characters with the longest names (fo ...more
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: y08, for-real
"The hope offered by the identity-politics movements has collided catastrophically with the counterrevolution, and the temporary deferral of that hope has given birth to frustration and desperation; which in turn has given birth to a politics based on nationalism. Nationalism... brings with it moral blindnes and heavily defended, bristling boundaries... Before we can lay claim to our common humanity, we must learn to recognize and respect Difference and what it tells us about the infinite comple ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who like essays, people who enjoy seeing Andrew Sullivan get a thorough smackdown
This collection is very uneven, but contains what's probably my favorite essay ever, a brilliant response to Andrew Sullivan's assimilationist politics called "A Socialism of the Skin." This essay, which is brilliant, hilarious, and beautifully written, makes the book worth checking out, even though the rest of the book wasn't particularly memorable. But I've returned to that essay probably a dozen times since I first read it and can't recommend it highly enough. It's astonishing.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I skipped the play (gasp) but was so happy to spend time with Tony Kushner via essay, poem, prayer. So impressed by how he manages to predict, 12 years ago, the sad state of assimilationist queer politics in America while also being so warm, witty, hopeful. Tony if you're reading this please lmk when you want to carry our distasteful selves around New York and share snacks.
Moira Burke
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
" As with any of the members of this list, I really recommend any book by these authors, and this is especially true of Tony (Angels in America) Kushner. His moving commentaries on gay life, Russian politics, and the meaningfulness of art stick with you, inspiring weeks of deep thoughts and only slightly blurry optimism."
May 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Intellectual snobs
I had to read the essay in this book for a class in college. I sat there with open all night, trying to follow along, but utterly moved.
ML Delaney
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This remains my favorite Kushner, and my most gifted choice for graduates.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
A book of essays and stuff from one of my favorite playwrights. Kushner's intelligence and personality come through in every word, and his essay pretension is worth the price of admission alone.
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Tony Kushner is an award-winning American playwright most famous for his play Angels in America, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also co-author, along with Eric Roth, of the screenplay of the 2005 film Munich, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Kushner (along with Roth) an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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