Meg's Reviews > Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein

Wendy and the Lost Boys by Julie Salamon
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's review
Aug 22, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: biography, drama
Read from November 30 to December 07, 2011

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 never entirely satisfied with the way Salamon dealt with the gaps between real life and the way Wendy wrote about her life in her many, many personal essays. Sometimes Salamon would quote from them or borrow details from them, taking them as fact; sometimes she'd call out specific details as false. Although this book wasn't a critical assessment of Wendy's work, I do feel as though not having a way to talk about this gap created a soft spot in the narrative. Same goes for the way Salamon treated the correlations between Wendy's plays and her real life. She'd refer to "the Wendy character" without even a blink, or a justification. While I do think it'd be hard to argue that Wendy's plays heavily borrow from her life, it's a mistake to discuss them as though they're just embellished diary entries. Again, a more thorough discussion of how and why Wendy used her life like this would have been interesting. Salamon floats a theory here and there, but I guess I feel as though in order to discuss this and discuss it well, we need a codex, a standard.

But! I did mostly enjoy it. I liked reading excerpts from letters she wrote, those were very good. I was particularly excited to read about New York theater in the 1980s, a decade of theater history that I'm fairly soft on. And it was good to get some outside perspective on her. Reading her books and plays, you think you know! But of course you can't. And you don't.

Also once I finished I went right out and bought a bunch of plays to read.

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Reading Progress

12/02/2011 page 105
23.0% "THE MOST IMPORTANT PARENTHETICAL: "...Wendy had grown somewhat friendly with Israel Horovitz. In addition to taking his playwriting seminar, a couple of times she baby-sat for his three children (one of whom was Adam Horovitz, who later became Ad-Rock, of the band the Beastie Boys)."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Meg (new) - rated it 3 stars

Meg I have very mixed feelings about this jacket art, Penguin.

message 2: by Lauren (new)

Lauren I put down this book because I couldn't stand the author's passive analysis. Letters from WW herself sound much better. Thanks for the thorough review, Meghan!

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