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Rewrites: A Memoir Paperback – April 1, 1998


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Rewrites: A Memoir + The Play Goes On: A Memoir + Understanding Neil Simon (Understanding Contemporary American Literature)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684835622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684835624
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After serving an apprenticeship under Sid Caesar and Phil Silvers in Los Angeles, Neil Simon returned to New York at age 30 to embark on a career as a playwright. Some 35 years and three dozen plays later, the most successful comedy writer in the history of the American stage is still at it. In Rewrites, Simon reflects on his career, his relationship with his older brother and mentor Danny, and the loss of his wife Joan to cancer. Along the way, he reveals the price he has paid for his achievements: "I felt like I had stopped relating to people as friends, relatives, acquaintances.... Instead they turned into my victims, as I ripped their private souls from their being, feeding my hunger, my insatiable desire to use them in my writings, in my plays, in my thoughts." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Simon has built his playwrighting career by creating funny, indelible characters. Who can forget Oscar Madison and Felix Unger? This illuminating memoir, which takes Simon into the 1970s, reveals his creative influences, as well as his personal triumphs and tragedies. He is brutally honest in describing his bouts with writer's block, and he's not afraid to admit that directors and actors have often helped him complete some of his most endearing plays. He confides, for instance, that the third act of The Odd Couple went through numerous rewrites and was salvaged only after director Mike Nichols suggested Simon not set the act in the middle of a poker game. Simon's forthright account of his work with Bob Fosse on Sweet Charity illustrates how two immensely talented individuals can work through their differences to create a highly successful show. Anecdotes about actors Simon has worked with make for particularly entertaining copy, and his description of George C. Scott's erratic behavior while he starred in The Gingerbread Lady shows how a playwright's success can hinge on the whims of a troubled actor. However, many digressions, though humorous, distract from the story at hand. Simon's account of his family and personal life beyond the theater lacks resonance, particularly when dealing with his experience with psychotherapy?the only section of the book written in the third person. While this memoir won't bring down the house, in general it's a well-told tale by a man whose talent, diligence and luck have made him Broadway's shining son. 100,000 first printing; Reader's Digest Condensed Book; Fireside Book Club main selection; first serial to Reader's Digest; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 32 customer reviews
It is extremely entertaining and a very easy read.
Corey Roggen
The insights in this book about becoming a successful playwright make the book more than a five star work.
Donald Mitchell
This is an enjoyable read for anyone who is even a casual fan of his work.
R. J. Marsella

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is more than the interesting story of the first part of Neil Simon's life. It's also a very practical guide to being a playwright. Simon discusses creating his first success, "Come Blow Your Horn." He had eighteen rewrites before he showed it to anybody but his wife! He also discusses the lucky breaks he got when the play first opened. But the real meat of the book for the working playwright is the play writing tips he sprinkles throughout the book. "If somebody leaves the room, where does he go?" "Character is the foundation of the play." "An audience won't believe what you don't believe." "We need to see a character change, not just know that he's changed." "Adversaries need to be equal." Be alert as you read--Simon usually drops these gems in a discussion of problems he had working on a specific script. Face it, if you pay attention, there's a lot you can learn from the most successful playwright since Shakespeare.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Corey Roggen on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Rewrites was a fabulous book by Neil Simmon about his life as a playwrite, a father and a husband. It is extremely entertaining and a very easy read. He uses a very fast paced writing style and a great deal of humor to describe the events of his life. Although he is a very public figure, he describes the events of his life in a way that everyone can relate and feel comfortable with.He tells things in a way which makes everyone think about their own life experiances and learn alot about themselves. I agree with Steve Martin when he said " It's funny and moving work. I cried till I laughed." I could not have said it better myself, and I think any one who reads "Rewrites" will have the same reaction.As some one who loves theater and Broadway, this was a great book and I enjoyed every minute of.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on November 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading Neil Simon's account of his early successes as a writer. His story is one of a man who seems to have everything fall into place almost too easily until late in the book when personal tragedy strikes and he writes of his wife's illness and death.
As one would expect from such a prominent figure in the theater his book is filled with entertaining anecdotes regarding various actors and theater people. Simon comes across as a sincere and very regular guy who has the talent to take what he observes in himself and others and transform it into priceless comic material.
This is an enjoyable read for anyone who is even a casual fan of his work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Neil Simon is one of my heroes. he is a fabulous writer and an even better person. In this bittersweet memior Neil Simon reveals himself as a person to the reader. And this may not seem like a great accomplishment, but indeed it is. Many autobiographies are not completely truthful and do not reveal the good and the bad about the person, but Neil Simon bares all. He explains what it was like for him when his wife was dying, his failures and successes, and the stress of his every day life. It would be an undertstatement to say I greatly admire him. I think Neil Simon is amazing. This book may not be the most compelling one on the market, but it is quite inventive and never bores you. Its great humor eases the reader and lets them relax during the serious parts of the book. Learning about the different play Simon wrote was truly the highlight. Although, there are many plays he left out that I would have liked to hear about. Any theater buff would love this book. But an every day person may not get the true kick of this book. so, although it will be appreciated by all, it may not be praised to everyone. But don't skip this glossy, bittersweet biography. It is truly a treat.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
The insights in this book about becoming a successful playwright make the book more than a five star work. I do not remember reading or hearing a better discussion of what comedy is and should be about.
The book also has many beautiful insights into how to be and have a wonderful spouse. Those scenes from a marriage are often well worth restaging in your life.
This book is a fascinating series of skits, sketches, and one liners masquerading as a memoir. Although Mr. Simon was (with difficulty) able to transcend his training as a gag and sketch writer to learn playwriting, he made little attempt to learn autobiography for this book. Instead, he fell back on his most natural way of communicating, the humorous story. That approach provides the reader with the unexpected bonus of many funny stories and good laughs.
The time period covered is Mr. Simon's life from age 30 to 46, with occasional visits to his earlier years. You will never read or watch a Neil Simon play in the same way after reading this memoir. You will find yourself in closer touch with the bittersweet parts of these comedies as a result . . . and with your own innermost self.
If you have seen or read Chapter Two, you already knew that Mr. Simon had lost his first wife to cancer at a young age. What I did not realize is what an overwhelmingly tragic event this was for him. The marriage had been a magnificent one for two people who were deeply devoted to and supportive of one another. In a sense, the comedy in this book is simply there to heighten your ability to appreciate the real subject, the tragic loss. The jokes are like the gravediggers' scene in Hamlet, to relieve the heaviness of the ultimate atmosphere.
Mr. Simon is very candid in this memoir.
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