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Lost in Yonkers (Drama, Plume) Paperback – January 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Series: Drama, Plume
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452268834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452268838
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Simon's 1991 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play about two young boys who are forced to live for a year with their domineering, ill-tempered grandmother while their father takes a job in another state is beautifully realized by the L.A. Theatre Works cast. Like most of Simon's works, this one features an eccentric cast of characters. Listeners meet Aunt Gert (played by Gia Carides), whose voice frequently switches into a wheeze midsentence, and Uncle Louie (played by Dan Castellaneta), a Bogart-like gangster. This production realizes Simon's trademark mix of comedy and drama: the one-liners are hilarious, but the characters' sad, dysfunctional relationships are poignant. The compassionate, three-dimensional performances, combined with Simon's nuanced writing and authentic rendering of 1940s speech, make the listener fully believe in these realistic, complex characters. Standout performers include Roxanne Hart as the boys' kindhearted but nervous Aunt Bella and Barbara Bain as Grandma Kurnitz, whose tough, coldhearted exterior is a reaction to a lifetime of devastating pain and loss. Also excellent are Ben Diskin and Kenneth Schmidt as the young boys. At first lonely and miserable, fearing and hating their stern grandmother, they gradually come to respect and understand her. Based on the Random House hardcover.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From School Library Journal

YA-- An insightful drama about one woman's drive and its emotional toll on her and her family. Grandma Kurnitz has endured many crises, ranging from a harsh childhood in Germany to being a young widow with six children in a foreign country. From her life she learned to be strong, hard, and cold, and this is the lesson she tries to instill in her four remaining children. While her two teenage grandsons are in her care, the three learn the importance of being loved and loving, and the difference between living and surviving. The themes of family ties and the search for love should strike a responsive chord with many young adults.

Patricia A. Long, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
Great story, characters, and great writing.
Thomas W. Cunningham
He understands that humans are imperfect; and he respects his very human characters for doing the best they can with the hand that life has dealt them.
DEWEY M.
I now want to see the movie version of this play and, also, catch more productions from L.A. Theatre Works.
Blaine Greenfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Set in Yonkers, New York, in 1942, this Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play captures the tumult of the period by focusing on the lives of three generations of one family, all of whom are dealing with personal issues in addition to the traumas of World War II. Arty, age 13, and Jay, age 15, whose mother has just died of cancer, must move in with their stern immigrant grandmother and sweet, but ditzy, Aunt Bella while their father works for ten months in the South.

Grandma Kurnitz, who (ironically) runs a sweet shop, is embittered by her life: only four of her six children survive, and none of them are close to her. She does not know her grandchildren and does not want them living with her and messing up her life and her house, facts she makes plain to the boys from the outset. Ruling with an iron hand, she terrifies everyone around her.

The coming-of-age of Arty and Jay, as they learn to deal with Grandma and eventually learn to respect her, is not without its complications as the rest of the family involves the boys in their own issues. Aunt Bella, who is mentally and emotionally a child, falls in love. Aunt Gert, who can speak only as she exhales, and wheezes as she inhales (the result of a childhood trauma involving Grandma), checks in periodically on Grandma and Bella but tries to avoid Grandma. Uncle Louie is a bagman for the mob, and he is on the run. Their father, who maintains a dramatic presence through his letters, cannot come home until he has earned enough to pay off the loan sharks to whom he is indebted for the money for his wife's cancer treatments.

Moments of great drama, wit, and poignancy play out within the apartment, with all the action revolving around Grandma.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sai Li on September 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised by Lost in Yonkers. The story touched my heart without being pretentious. Neil Simon is one of the best modern playwrights who has the heart of Miller and the inventiveness of Mamet.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christian Engler on December 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
First and foremost, Neil Simon is a brilliant playright, and Lost in Yonkers is another feather in his cap. Set in Yonkers, New York in 1942 during the second world war, two children-Jay and Artie-must stay for one year (while a debt is being cleared by their father) with their cold-hearted, inflexible, emasculating and miserly Grandmother Kurnitz, a hardened survivor and also a woman whose own inner emotional "icing up" (because of her own uncommunicated tragedy) turned her own kids into a petty thug (Louie), a childlike simpleton (Bella), a castrated doormat (Eddie) and a stuttering fool whom many privately mock (Aunt Gert). And under the intense conditions that this one woman evokes, Jay and Artie must struggle to live or rather survive, for a house without love or any caliber of human warmth whatsoever can quickly change these two boys from innocence and humor to the very spitting image of their deeply flawed aunts and uncle, and they themselves realize this; they must be steely and unfeeling, as their grandmother would love to have happen, for anything opposite that would be a sign of weakness and failure. And that is what makes Lost in Yonkers sad, disturbing and frightening, because those very elements are the ingredients for a very dysfunctional adulthood, and that is sometimes the worst weapon of all--the lacking of human love and warmth. But with the strict, life-sucking obedience that the kids must adhere to in order for there to be some semblance of peace and cohesion, one would think that there would be no possible glimmer of hope at all. Yet, the hope comes in the form of Jay and Artie's childlike aunt, Bella, whose simplicity will simply not allow her to be an unfeeling android who goes through the motions of life.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Greenfield on September 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
An organization called L.A. Theatre Works brings together top
actors to perform classic and contemporary plays, recorded in
state-of-the art sound quality . . . I've heard several of these in
the past and have never been disappointed . . . so when I had the
chance to listen to Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS, I jumped at the
opportunity.

What a marvelous time I had!

The play is set in Yonkers in 1942 . . . two boys, aged 13 and 16, have
to spend one year with their demanding grandmother after their
mother dies and their father needs to find work elsewhere . . . they
encounter all sorts of memorable characters, and I really felt
that I got to know each and every one of them.

The performances were all excellent, though in particular, I
was touched by the work of Roxanne Hart as Aunt Bella.

I now want to see the movie version of this play and, also,
catch more productions from L.A. Theatre Works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 10, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
One of Neil Simon's classic dramas, Lost In Yonkers is set in 1942 Yonkers, New York and centers on Jay and Arty, two boys (ages 13 and 16) who must spend one year with their rather austere and quite demanding grandmother while war rages in Europe. Here is a family of memorable and eccentric characters that can be identified within most families and assortments of kinfolk. The Los Angles Theatre Works cast under the direction of John Rubinstein does full justice in this radio play adaptation of Neil Simon's Pultizer Prize and Tony Award-winning play. This superbly recorded audiobook edition of Lost In Yonkers is very highly recommended to the legions of Neil Simon enthusiasts and fans.
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