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The Guys: A Play Paperback – August 13, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Compelled by the tragic events of September 11, Columbia Journalism School professor Nelson volunteered to write eulogies for a fire captain who lost eight men. When director Jim Simpson of off-Broadway's Flea Theatre learned about her efforts, he recognized the potential for an original play. With his encouragement, first-time playwright Nelson feverishly wrote this two-character, one-act work, showing great sensibility and compassion. Premiered at the Flea Theatre on December 4, 2001, the play has been a running success. In these finished eulogies, the fire captain's sketchy recollections of four of his men at work and at play were transformed into full portraitures. Through skillful dialogs and monologs, minimal props and setting, Nelson transcended time and space to create a moving, cathartic work. The book includes three pictures from the Flea Theatre production, a lengthy preface and afterword by the author, and a list of suggested readings. This timely literary work is highly recommended for all academic and public libraries.
Ming-ming Shen Kuo, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, IN
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

From her experience helping a New York fire captain prepare eulogies for the men in his command who died on 9/11, Nelson distilled this two-person play. Premiered in December 2001 at a theater near the WTC and struggling to survive in the tragedy's wake, it consists of monologues by Jane, a journalist; dialogues between her and Nick, captain of a decimated company; and overlapping closing monologues as Jane speaks her heart and Nick, who has already spoken so much of his, reads the words Jane has fashioned for him. The time limitations of viable performance allow limning only a handful of firefighters, and Nelson makes the most of those strictures, presenting a veteran, a probie (a rookie on probationary appointment), and two men in mid-career. Drawing on her knowledge of Argentina and the American heartland, Nelson also has Jane voice some far-flung perspectives on 9/11. Deeply moving when read, the play may be overwhelming onstage and in the forthcoming film version. Nelson's preface, afterword, and further reading advice worthily fill out this book. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1st edition (August 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812967291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812967296
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Nelson is an author, lecturer and playwright who specializes in media and international affairs from a human rights perspective. Nelson's most recent book is "Red Orchestra: the Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler." It was selected as a New York Times "Editor's Choice" in 2009. Its German edition, published by C. Bertelsman, was widely reviewed and described as a "masterpiece" in the Frankfurter Rundschau. A screenplay based on the book is now in circulation. Nelson's dramatic writing include the 2001 play, "The Guys," produced across the U.S. and as a feature film starring Anthony LaPaglia and Sigourney Weaver. Her 2005 play Savages, produced off-Broadway, dealt with the trauma of counter-insurgency warfare, and was described by the New Yorker as a work of "lacerating beauty." Her 1986 book, "Murder Under Two Flags," was produced as a feature starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Spacey. Nelson has a second career as a media consultant. She blogs for PBS MediaShift and appears on twitter as anelsona. Nelson was born at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and is a graduate of Yale University. She lives in New York with her husband, author George Black. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and teaches "New Media and Development Communications" at Columbia University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on September 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
There have been a lot of books written in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But "The Guys," by Anne Nelson, is definitely one that stands out from the pack. This is a two character play. The preface states that it "is based on a true experience."
"The Guys" tells the story of Nick, a New York City fire captain who has lost many men in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He comes to see Joan, a writer, so that she can help him write eulogies for his fallen men. As the two characters talk about the dead firefighters, Nick opens up and they create testimonies to these men.
This is a very moving work of drama. Although rooted in the events of 9/11, the play touches on issues that transcend that specific historical moment; it's about the place of a writer in society and about the potential power of words as healing tools. It's also about how extraordinary events impact ordinary people.
A director's note states that the play was commissioned in response to the 9/11 events, and opened in December 2001. Recommended as a companion text: "The Laramie Project," co-authored by Moises Kaufman; this is another fact-based play about how people respond to a violent tragedy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
THE GUYS is a two-character play based upon real life experiences. The characters of the play are Joan and Nick. Joan is a writer who is asked by Nick, a fire chief, to write eulogies for the men at his fire house who died on September 11th. Nick wants to honor his friends and comrades, but doesn't know how. He seeks Joan to write down on paper what he knows from memory and remembers from his heart.

THE GUYS is a short play, ninety minutes when performed, varying from monologues by Joan to scenes where she is discussing with Nick the men who died that day. The play is moving and seems to capture much of the spirit of our nation during that time. The rememberances of each of "the guys" are vivid and though are based on sketches of many real life fireman, their lives are representative of any number of Americans. The play truly is an honor to them because it illustrates what a hero really is, just an ordinary person who arises to the occassion during extraordinary times.

The play is extremely well-written and simple. The character of Joan appears to be mostly based upon the author herself, though there are probably some differences. Overall, a beautiful piece of dramatic art. Other than that, it's a wonderful play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julie Jordan Scott on July 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This play is fascinating on many levels - and is rich

enough to continue to wow audiences long after

September 11 sinks deeper into history.

There is a lot of truth here - richly evident in the

human element of the stories Joan and Nick

weave together at a time when stories (beyond

horror and heartbreak) were able to tell.

Joan, a writer, is introduced to Nick in the days

after September 11 because Nick has the

privilege - and the awesome responsibility -

to speak at the funerals of his men who died

in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The audience (in this case, reader) gets to know

Joan, the interviewer and more - about her

background in Oklahoma. We learn, for me

it was first hand and finally, about the magnitude

of the impact this event had on the New York

fire departments, especially in Manhatten.

The relationship between Nick and Joan is

remarkable AND truthful - sort of a universal

relationship of souls connecting post tragedy

of this size and strength.

Finally - I enjoyed reading the Preface, the

Author's Note and the Director's Note. It

felt almost sacred to hear how this very vital

piece of theatre, and literature, came into


I would love to see it performed somewhere.

Ah, to be so blessed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phil Price on July 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sitting at the lake today a friend came up to my wife and me and told us about how she had gotten the part of Joan in one of our community's local theater company's productions of "The Guys." Having never heard of this play, but thankful that I have a Kindle, I downloaded the free sample and was hooked. I read through it this evening and was grateful for the suggestion. As a pastor, having to think about preaching on 9/11 which falls on a Sunday this year, this play was a powerful reminder of what that day is all about. From a Christian perspective it is about the sorrow of pain, the mystery of death, and the redemption offered through lives given in the cause of life--especially in the name of saving many for the sake of one.

I highly recommend this concise, but powerful look at what that day means as we approach the tenth anniversary. I especially recommend it for those of you who are concerned that our nation's ongoing wars in reaction, whether justified or not, to that day seem to cloud your own memories of that day. For sure, September Eleventh 2001 will be a heart-rending day for many people that does not need to be shrouded by the conflicting sentiment of hyper-patriotism and "The Guys" offers a healing balm for all of us who are seeking to remember the loss, pain, and meaning of that day; from September 11th 2011 and forevermore.
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