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Spotless: Memories of a New York Childhood Paperback – February 2, 2017
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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About the Author
Sherman Yellen, playwright, librettist, screen-writer, lyricist and now memoirist, was nominated for a Tony Award for his book for the 1970 musical "The Rothschilds," with a score by "Fiddler on the Roof" songwriters Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, which he and Harnick have recently reimagined as "Rothschild & Sons" ("You cannot fault the York Theater Company’s rich new production of “Rothschild & Sons” - NY Times). Sherman wrote the libretto for the Will Holt and Gary William Freidman musical "Treasure Island," winner of the Broadway World Best Regional musical Award (2012). Among his many theater works is his satirical sketch “Delicious Indignities” which appeared in the New York and London revue "Oh! Calcutta!" His straight plays include "New Gods for Lovers," "Strangers," and "December Fools." Sherman was librettist and lyricist for "Josephine Tonight," an original musical he wrote with the late composer Wally Harper about the early life of Josephine Baker, which The Chicago Sun-Times called “a shining new musical” and which the DC press praised for being “so hot that it sizzles.” In his youth he worked as a librettist with legendary composer Richard Rodgers. Together with Sheldon Harnick they recently revised their musical "Rex" about Henry VIII. This new version had a successful premiere in Toronto. His teleplays have won him two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, first for his "John Adams, Lawyer" in the PBS series "The Adams Chronicles," and later for "An Early Frost," a groundbreaking drama about AIDS in America broadcast on NBC, as well as an Emmy Nomination for his Hallmark Hall of Fame version of "Beauty and the Beast" starring George C. Scott. Sherman’s screenplay adaptations of classic novels range from "Great Expectations" to "Phantom of the Opera." He has received awards in Arts and Letters from Bard College, and he is a frequent contributor of essays to online publications such as The Huffington Post. Sherman recently published his autobiographical novella "Cousin Bella – The Whore of Minsk," available in a volume which also includes his holiday short story "A Christmas Lilly," and a collection of three plays, "December Fools and Other Plays (December Fools-Budapest-Gin Lane)." Sherman is married, the father of two sons, Nicholas and Christopher, and has three much loved granddaughters. He has lived in London and Los Angeles, worked in Berlin and Budapest, but home was, is, and always will be New York City.
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Instead, SPOTLESS is an engaging, enthralling, page-turner of a flesh-and-blood memoir. It is rich in detail, relentless in its vivid dissection of real people in a very changing world.
Yellen is not a slave to chronology but rather has found a shape all his own. The first three quarters of the book pings from anecdote to anecdote, finding humor and pathos in his family’s journey. The final part of the book is a series of essays that focuses and expands on specific stories and events, some of which had been touched on earlier. It is these detailed accounts that are the most extraordinary. There is an intensity about these vignettes that will stay with you long after you have closed the book.
What separates SPOTLESS from so many autobiographical accounts of this kind is Yellen’s extraordinary writing. Its candid prose has a uniquely lyrical voice. The portraits of family dysfunction are told with scrupulous detail and a fearless warts-and-all revelation which neither attacks nor self-pities. There is never a sense of hazy nostalgia. There is a great deal of laugh-out-loud humor woven throughout the work’s often dark but always varied tapestry.
SPOTLESS is a reflection of a richly textured childhood, neither all happy nor all sad, honest in its telling, accepting of its challenges, celebrating a life led.
Like all great works, it deserves not just to be read but to be re-read, shared, and cherished.
We can only hope that Yellen will embark on a second volume of memoirs that explores his years in theatre, film, and television with same extraordinary drive, vision, and detail.
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