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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(3 star).Show all reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2011
As a fan of WW, I wanted to like this book, but I couldn't. Salamon was approached to do the biography --- Wendy wasn't a natural interest of hers and I felt it showed. I had a chance to tell Ms. Salamon during a reading that she gave that I wasn't sure if she even liked WW. She readily agreed there were times she did and times she didn't, and if I had to guess which she did more I would say didn't. The early pages of the book read perfunctorily at times. I thought the theme of "secrecy" was overdone, overall -- everybody keeps secrets and Wendy's seemed reasonable given the times and more, given her parents and their immigration to the US. And finally, I thought the illness was poorly explored (and that may have been partly due to medical privacy laws). At times it felt like Wendy was battling cancer and other, unnamed diseases. I was surprised to be reading and stumble onto a reference to leg braces -- they weren't introduced, they were just suddenly on her, and I've never heard of leg braces being used when cancer weakens. When she finally went to the Mayo, she received what Salamon made seem like a full diagnosis for the first time -- yet there were plenty of doctor appointments in NYC. Were the NY doctors unable to diagnose her? There were times that Salamon slanted the facts to fit her themes. Her treatment of Mount Holyoke was one of those times. If you believe Salamon, the college went from being a social/marriage prep school to a hotbed of politics in a short two years, and it's ridiculous to think such a transformation was possible or that such a prestigious school was populated by sheep waiting for the right husband, until the times suddenly flipped a switch and empowered them.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Julie Salamon's new biography of Wendy Wasserstein is a critical look at both Wasserstein's life and work. It is very well-written - as all books by Salamon are - but the woman who emerges on Salamon's pages still seems like an enigma. I'm not sure I "knew" Wendy Wasserstein any better after reading the book than before I read it. And that's not Salamon's fault; I think Wendy Wasserstein was so many things - each different to every person in her life - that I'm not sure there was full person there. That's not a criticism of Wasserstein, either, but rather a frank appraisal of the family she came from and the world she functioned in. Sometimes, she seemed to me to "observe" society through her writing rather than participating in it.

Born into an upwardly mobile Jewish family, Wendy was surrounded by the secrets many families hold. "Polite people" didn't discuss the fractures that death and divorce and mental illness often bring to a family. There were many secrets in her family, most she didn't know til she reached adulthood. Hers was a family where the children excelled in both school and business. Her brother Bruce and her sister Sandra were both business successes, while Wendy - the youngest - found herself adrift in the 1960's college life at Mt Holyoke and the years after. She was the "creative" Wasserstein, and, in her own way, found herself as famous as brother Bruce. She wrote timely plays about the women in her world, both at a macro-level about the women of her generation and at a micro-level about the women in her immediate family.

But if Wendy Wasserstein found respect and friendship through her writing, she also seemed not to have a lot of personal self-confidence. Not the sleek, beautiful "golden girl" she thought she saw around her, her relationship with men tended to be with gay men. Are they the "Lost Boys" of the title? Perhaps so but most of them were loyal and loving to Wendy, but disappointing her in the end by not being totally available to her. Wendy dearly wanted a child and tried throughout her 40's to conceive. A final, last-ditch effort resulted in her only pregnancy when she was 48. Her lovely daughter, Lucy Jane, was loved by Wendy. Unfortunately, Wendy's early death when Lucy Jane was 6 years old, deprived her of her mother (Lucy Jane's father was never identified). She went to live with her uncle Bruce and his family, but Bruce died a few years later.

Julie Salamon's writing is excellent. Two of her best books are "Net of Dreams", a book about her parents' experiences during the Holocaust and eventual settling in the United States and "The Devil's Candy", flat-out the best book about movie making I've ever read. I wish I liked this book a little better; I'd have given it five stars instead of four.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2012
I saw most of Wendy Wasserstein's plays in their original productions but I was always aware that she was a darling of New York scene so I sometimes wondered if her work was overpraised. I did admire The Heidi Chronicles and her last play. I also have fond memories of discovering Uncommon Women on PBS with a marvelous cast.

This biography held my attention and I was particularly intrigued by the evocation of the times in which Wasserstein came of age and its portrayal of the conflicts Wasserstein faced regarding her career vs. her personal life and her role as a woman artist in society.

I do wish the book had spent more time analyzing her work. And I found some points about Wendy's family and character were repeated too many times. Some editing was needed.

But I recommend the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2013
I was excited to purchase this book. I thought that Wendy's life would be fascinating, especially considering her quirky family, interesting time in New York (with so many societal changes), Wendy's challenges and incredible accomplishments. However, the book felt more like a distant description, rather than an up close and personal story. I am familiar with the author and felt disappointed - kept picking it up, really enjoying a few pages and then getting bored.
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on July 29, 2012
An interesting biography, too many names to sidetrack from focus. Had a hard time following her actual story. Was probably easier to follow for insiders.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2013
A little dull for my tastes. I'd never heard of her & had expected a more interesting life - just OK for me.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2012
This book was an excellent choice for a book club. The pathetic life of the main character made for a provocative discussion.
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