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Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, The Paperback – January 17, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarpPeren; Revised edition (January 17, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060920718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060920715
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This play is Wagner's latest starring vehicle for Lily Tomlin, and it is a wonderfully comic and painful dose of truth direct to the heart. In this satire, a form all too lacking in American theater, Trudy the bag lady, Wagner's central character, tries to explain modern American material society to an alien (i.e., interstellar) committee. In the first act a variety of types are seen suffering in their lives. The more full of anxiety and terror they are, the funnier and more disturbing the play is. The focus of the second act, tied to the people of the first act, is a group of women who live through the social fads of the 1970s and 1980swomen trying to make something real enter their lives, but who live desperate and superficial existences. Yet the play ends with a hymn to the creative spirit. The text is lavishly illustrated with performance pictures. Required reading. Thomas E. Luddy, English Dept., Salem State Coll., Mass.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A work of genius and compassion." -- -- Gloria Steinem

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By gac1003 on December 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Trudy the Bag Lady has made a life for herself on the streets, offering her own bits of wit and wisdom to the passers-by. Before she wound up on the streets, she was in and out of hospitals, receiving so much electro-shock therapy that she believes her nervous system has been re-wired and now tunes into the bio-rhythms of people around her.
Trudy takes us, along with her two alien companions, on a discovery trip to find out what it means to be human and imparting her own impressions on life. She tunes in a wide array of people, ranging from Agnus Angst, a 15-year-old punk performance artist; Agnus' grandparents Lud and Marie; Chrissy, a recently unemployed workout enthusiast; Lily, an actress currently performing a one-woman show; and many others, both men and women, gay and straight.
This play is full of marvelous insight into the human condition and life in the 1980's. This is very apparent in the incredible second act, in which we follow Lyn from the consciousness-raising times of the 1970's through her rise and fall in the business ranks of the 1980's and her turbulent family life. Also, all the characters, in one form or another, have some influence on the life of the other characters in the play, whether or not they actually meet: Lyn has an affair with Agnus's mother; Kate, a rich trendsetter, finds a suicide note left by Chrissy lying in the street; Trudy takes the aliens to see Lily's play in order to show them goosebumps.
The book also includes still images, from the stage production, of Lily Tomlin, many of which were shot by Annie Leibowitz. Jane Wagner also created some montages of Lily as the many characters in the play.
Full of wit, insight and tenderness, this play stands as a perfect glimpse into understanding society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carole K. Kenney on December 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
The word "Tour de Force" may not have been invented with Lily Tomlin specifically in mind, but she is one of the best people for whom this epithet should be used. I've seen her do this show live, twice, when it first came to Philadelphia, and enjoy repeating the experience via the video, and the book. She's an amazing performer, and this is an amazing piece of theater.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Turnbough on July 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Book is a one woman show, written for Lily Tomlinson ( available on DVD: hint) it's hilarious and true, it weaves in and out of different people that the main character, Trudy, channels, for aliens. No matter what you think about that premise, it delivers truth about everyone. Read it for the profoundity, or for the laughs, but read it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Landrum on June 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of seeing this in it's first performances in Los Angeles in the 80s. It reads as well as it plays, it covers everything as our everywoman Trudy searches for intelligent Life amongst the simple things in life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spikeonline on August 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Come on... Jane Wagner, and can just imagine Lilly doing the characters... it's great. The writing is clever, still very timely, moving, funny... Just wish I could have seen Tomlin perform it!
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Format: Paperback
As she tries to explain human beings to extraterrestrials who are searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe, Trudy, the bag lady, channels among others: Agnus Angst, a throwaway teenage punk; Chrissy, an unemployed young woman who doesn't know what to do with herself; Kate -- a rich socialite bored with everything. It's a tough job, but Trudy is up to it -- she refuses to be intimidated by reality.
Wagner weaves together the stories of these separate lives with speculations about time, space, reality, art, and human nature. From Trudy's skewed perspective a vision forms of the interconnectedness of human life -- maybe of all intelligent life in the universe. Filled with laugh-out-loud one-liners and characters whose words and feelings ring true, this one-woman play is masterful writing from a deep and generous heart. If you didn't see Lily Tomlin's performance on Broadway, don't miss reading the book. It's more than a story; it's an experience.
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By pamdrea on April 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most intellectual, most poignant, most insightful slice of life I've ever seen and read. Lily Tomlin was superb on Broadway as she portrayed these characters, woven together in such a illustrious way to show the many connections that aren't always so obvious as we are in the midst of living life. Jane Wagner's words are genius. The BEST ever!!! What a terrific team. Always gives me GOOSEBUMPS!
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More About the Author

Jane Wagner is the winner of four Emmy Awards, a Writer's Guild Award and two Peabody Awards. She received the New York Drama Desk Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.