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Who Lives? Paperback – December 15, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"Christopher Meeks takes a factual scenario and transforms it into a thought-provoking drama." --LA Weekly, Pick of the Week

"Those who have personal experience with its topic should bring Kleenex." -David Nichols, Los Angeles Times.

"Meeks's play deals with issues of life and death, the value of the human soul, and the strictures of personal value systems that stand in the way of, rather than help make, difficult decisions." -Back Stage West

"To personalize the astronomically difficult task of the committee, Meeks has created a distrinctively complex character in Gabriel. When the dying Gabriel discovers the committee has passed him over, he utlizes his ruthless abilities of persuasion to gain the treatment he needs to stay alive. -Daily Variety

About the Author

Christopher Meeks writes fiction and plays. His produced plays include "Who Lives?," "Suburban Anger," and "Fiveplay." He has had stories published in several literary journals and his collected short stories, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea," earned fabulous reviews in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere, as well as a mention in Entertainment Weekly as one of five best books from a small publisher. He is now putting finishing touches on two novels. He's published four children's books, reviewed theatre for seven years for Daily Variety, has had two screenplays optioned and another win the Donald Davis Dramatic Writing Award; he also teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension, CalArts, and Art Center College of Design, and English at Santa Monica College. Visit his website at: www.chrismeeks.com

Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: White Whisker Books/Lulu; 1st edition (December 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847283756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847283757
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,273,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Meeks was born in Minnesota, earned degrees from the University of Denver and USC, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1977. He's taught English at Santa Monica College, and creative writing at CalArts, UCLA Extension, Art Center College of Design, and USC. His fiction has appeared often in Rosebud magazine as well as other literary journals, and his books have won several awards. His short works have been collected into two volumes, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons," the latter which appeared on the long list for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. He's had three plays produced, and "Who Lives?: A Drama" is published. His focus is now on longer fiction. His first novel is "The Brightest Moon of the Century," and his second, "Love At Absolute Zero."

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Christopher Meeks made a stunning impression as a writer of short stories in his collection THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN AND THE SEA published in 2005, an author who is not only observant of the little things that propel us through living but also as a man closely in touch with all the senses. Now he has published in book form his 1997 play WHO LIVES? and once again he ranks as a talent to watch. Note: the term 'At Rise' in a manuscript for a play indicates the curtain or the lights going up to open the experience of a story, yet here it can also be used to indicate the intensity of Meeks' substantial gifts as a writer, a playwright, and a craftsman.

The story of the play, presented here in script form yet happily free of the many action indications usually found in scripts as asides that paralyze the movement of the eye through the meat of the story, is terse, tight, economical, and packs a wallop - even as a reader. No stumbling blocks, here, just propulsive story telling (think Tennessee Williams, William Inge, or even Shakespeare). Yes, the mellow secrets of the visual representation of the play's mechanics are present - double stage settings for the immediate story and for the committee input with accompanying lighting cues that allow us to understand how the characters interact between the personal and the group.

1963 is the year. Kidney Dialysis is a new machine that can prolong the lives of patients with renal failure, the beginnings of the entire field of kidney transplantation. Seattle is the place where a hospital is beginning to offer dialysis to candidates, and because of the plethora of potential candidates, a committee has been chosen to review all possible recipients - a thumbs up or thumbs down as to whether applicants live or die.
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Format: Paperback
Yeah, it's not often in life that you come across an author who can pull out the literary stops not once, twice, or thrice in a row. I puff you not, babies, but I've already begun to lose count of the streak of unparalleled good turns writer Chistopher Meeks has released into the idea marketplace. My goodness...my head is all aflutter just with ***feedback*** after my latest read of Meeks' latest fictive cut, WHO LIVES?

My feelings are that when you read a book, you don't want to simply go through the motions. You're not interested--at least I'm not, m'kay?--in having your eyes flit from left to right across the page--or right to left if you're reading WHO LIVES? in either its Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, or Hebrew translations--randomly taking in words and sentences like the act of reading is some mid-afternoon commute from your ball and chain cubicle job back home to the 'burbs where the smell of cut grass, lemonade, and pot roast awaits you (about the closest thing to a sensory assault in the 'burbs).

No, I say.

Rather, you want the words from the books you read to touch you somewhere deep within your soul, if you've got one. You want to walk away feeling ethereal, light, and on a cloud with a certain identifying digit because that's what you bargained for with Christopher Meeks. You know this because you've already been reading Mr. Meeks' stuff for some time, and you wouldn't expect any less from the award-winning LA Times-reviewed playwright and novelist. Now would you?

But let's take the hypothetical example for the moment for all you naysayers out there that you've never heard of the "Meekster" before.
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Format: Paperback
I read `The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea` by Christopher Meeks, and I loved it, so I also bought `Who Lives?`

I thought this was it! This play helps us Japanese audience see and think deeply about life and responsibility. I'll recommend it to anyone to read and any drama groups to perform. Someday I hope Yokohama Theatre Group can perform this show.

In the book, the author's simple and clear language opened up the complex human decision-making story. I've trusted the read throughout although not always on the characters or the decisions. This play makes me think, and what a pleasure that is!

Keiko Amano
Communication Director
Yokohama Theatre Group, Japan
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Format: Paperback
"Who Lives?" is a play by Christopher Meeks. Having read the author's two short story collections ("The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons"), I knew he was an excellent writer, so I was interested in seeing how well he did as a playwright.

"Who Lives?" is based on real events in the early 1960s. Kidney dialysis machines had just been invented, making it possible for the first time for people with severe kidney disease to have some hope for the future. Unfortunately, the dialysis machines were in such short supply in those days that demand far exceeded the capacity of the few machines available, and only a handful of patients could be admitted for the life-saving dialysis treatments. In order to select the patients, committees composed of anonymous citizens were created to review the applicants and make life-or-death decisions.

That's the background of "Who Lives?" In the play, which takes place in Seattle, the central character is Gabriel, a hard-driving, obnoxious lawyer who has alienated most of those around him, including his family and professional associates. When Gabriel learns that he has chronic kidney disease and has only a few weeks to live, his doctor submits Gabriel's name to the dialysis committee, but he is turned down. Gabriel then has his investigators find where the committee meets, and he goes to the committee and threatens to sue the members unless they reverse their decision and approve him for dialysis. Caving in to the overbearing Gabriel, the committee also adds Gabriel to its membership.

The real drama is in the committee meetings, where life-or-death decisions are made.
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