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Make-Believe Town: Essays and Remembrances Paperback – January 1, 1997

4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Playwright David Mamet has forged a considerable reputation, particularly in the theaters of New York and London, for dialogue that is austere, sharp, complex, sophisticated and realistic, a skill that transferred successfully to Hollywood with the movie version of his play Glengarry Glen Ross. His first collection of essays, The Cabin, gave Mamet enthusiasts the chance to see more directly what the author thinks about the world. This second miscellaneous collection of 24 essays again gives a lively scattershot view of his concerns and obsessions: sketches of friends; a memoir of child abuse; an essay on anti-semitism; thoughts on an early job writing pornography captions; much about the theater, including his beginnings on Broadway. Definitely a clue to the mind behind the dramatic art. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The 24 brief essays, several published previously, in this collection share no overarching theme, but the playwright's fans can find evidence of his interests and obsessions. His purist love for drama is evinced in an homage to director Greg Mosher, a memoir of his youth immersed in off Broadway and his scorn for the decline of screenwriting into the predictable. Mamet displays his strong Jewish identity when lamenting the "psychic assimilation" that Jewish audiences and actors undergo and urging self-defense, rather than reason, in response to contemporary anti-Semitism. Playing poker has taught this old gambler lessons ("Trust everyone, but cut the cards"), but so has New Hampshire deer hunting. His take on the sexes veers between a wry memoir of writing captions for pornography and a gnomic meditation on sex and partnership. Most of these pieces evaporate rather quickly and a few sound self-important, but Mamet's writing remains spare and lucid.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316550353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316550352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,268,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Mamet's numerous plays include Oleanna, Glengarry Glen Ross (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award), American Buffalo, Speed-the-Plow, Boston Marriage, November, Race and The Anarchist. He wrote the screenplays for such films as The Verdict, The Untouchables and Wag the Dog, and has twice been nominated for an Academy Award. He has written and directed ten films, including Homicide, The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main, House of Games, Spartan and Redbelt. In addition, he wrote the novels The Village, The Old Religion, Wilson and many books of nonfiction, including Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business; Theatre; Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama and the New York Times bestseller The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. His HBO film Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, aired in 2013 and earned him two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing. He was co-creator and executive producer of the CBS television show The Unit and is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having been my first Mamet book, I was startled to realize just what an extraordinary talent lay beyond the creation of his play 'Glengarry Glen Ross.' Looking back, it was naive to think that a mere 'hack' could have written such an invective piece (which I first viewed as the popular major motion picture), that talent like that would be present in any endeavor. And that is the case with Mamet's 'Make-Believe Town : Essays and Remembrance.' I urge any fan, casual or dedicated, to read this book for Mamet's insight is spellbinding. It felt like I was actually spending time talking to the guy. Gosh. I really do love this book. -I'm gushing!
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By A Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mamet writes on a variety of subjects, some "of importance" others meerly ruminations on past events or experiences. This leads to a certain uneven nature, as some essays seem like throw-aways in light of their immediate neighboors in the book. By the same token, some of the lighter subjects are the best in the book.
Overall: very good and required Mamet reading for any fan.
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Format: Paperback
The 3 that I give this collection of essays is due to the fact that some of the essays are a pure delight and would earn the book a 5/5 stars, while others are down right offensive and whiney. I�d like to focus on the positive and say that any fan of Mamet should definitely buy this book. It is a quick read and a pleasure (mostly).
On the positive side, the book consists of 24 short essays, of which a few are among the most wonderful that I have ever read. Of particular interest was a story about gambling in Chicago. It is worded so beautifully, that the reader aches when it finishes. Another story is about his days as a copy editor on a pornographic magazine that is rather entertaining. Finally, there is an essay that all would-be writers will love called �The Diner� that discusses the craft of writing in relation to where one writes � as well as a number of takes on screenwriting, etc. I�ve left out a ton of great essays out, but this at least gives a window into the breadth that this book covers.
On the offensive side, I too am a Jew. However, Mamet becomes so �Us v. the Christian them� in some of the stories that I was actually turned off to him as a person. One essay criticizes �Shindler�s List� as being a terrible movie as if Mamet has ever written or directed anything as powerful. In another, he talks on the subject of minority rights in such a way that I want to slap him upside the head and tell him to quit his whiney driveling. Finally, in the wake of September 11th, his criticism of the government and their military actions were enough to cause me to put the book down.
As is always the risk in personal essays, some make me value Mamet as a talented writer, and some make me want to see his career come to a bitter end. The only way you too can judge is to buy this book and read it. At the end of the day, I�m happy I went on the journey� but wanted to warn you all about some of the sights.
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Format: Paperback
From SECRET NAMES by David Mamet: "I instance the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction'. This formulation is overlong, clunky, and obviously confected. This is not to say that this or that dictator, or indeed well-meaning soul, may or does not possess such tools. But the formulation itself is unwieldy and, to the American ear, unfortunate. It is the cadence of 'I'm not going to tell you again'. Rhythmically, it is a scold. And its constant enforced repetition by the newscasters (you will note that the people in the street do not use it often, and then with little ease), its very awkwardness, ensures that the phrase, and thus its reference, pass beyond the borders of consideration."

A better term would be "megadeath weapons". Even though it sounds techno-trendy.
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Format: Paperback
I have a bachelor's degree in theatre. I was impressed by the essays in this book. They cover anything from script writing the the nature or art. Mamet is one of my favorite writers. I especially enjoy Oleanna. A must read for any Mamet fan. This book presents excellent essays for class discussion or as a source for a paper.
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