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Make-Believe Town


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Mamet, the playwright of such popular works as Glengarry Glen Ross and the screenplay The Untouchables, is known for his accurate use of ordinary language. His current title is a miscellaneous collection of short essays dealing with a variety of topics from his gambling experiences to his impressions of London, from his view of screenwriting to his opinion of the media's treatment of Nixon's death. In "Demagoguery," he decries the claim of television and computers (with their much-touted "information highway") that we will possess all information and "become God" by sitting down in front of them. Other essays deal with friends of Mamet, child abuse in his family, anti-Semitism, and his early jobs. Although they contain many vivid scenes, biographical details, and sharp observations of contemporary America, as a whole these essays seem like first drafts, somewhat less polished than his previous collection, The Cabin (Random, 1992) and filled with what one critic has called his "chatty non-sequiturs." Still, this work may be of interest to academic and public libraries, particularly those that collect in the area of American theater.‘Nancy P. Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville

The 24 brief essays, several published previously, in this collection share no overarching theme, but the playwright's fans can find evidence of his interests and obsessions. His purist love for drama is evinced in an homage to director Greg Mosher, a memoir of his youth immersed in off Broadway and his scorn for the decline of screenwriting into the predictable. Mamet displays his strong Jewish identity when lamenting the "psychic assimilation" that Jewish audiences and actors undergo and urging self-defense, rather than reason, in response to contemporary anti-Semitism. Playing poker has taught this old gambler lessons ("Trust everyone, but cut the cards"), but so has New Hampshire deer hunting. His take on the sexes veers between a wry memoir of writing captions for pornography and a gnomic meditation on sex and partnership. Most of these pieces evaporate rather quickly and a few sound self-important, but Mamet's writing remains spare and lucid. (June)

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