We Love The 80’s

I try to cover drama here on LitKicks, but the death of acclaimed playwright Wendy Wasserstein made me realize that I’ve never seen, read or heard a line of dialogue from any of her plays. In fact, having once served my time on Wall Street, I know more about her brother, the influential financier Bruce Wasserstein than I do about her.

Strangely, though, I have a vague sense that I heartily approve of Wendy Wasserstein’s work, probably just because her titles are so appealing: The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosenweig, Isn’t It Romantic?, An American Daughter, Uncommon Women and Others. I wish I could say something smart about her work, but I’ll have to yield to a bunch of Bookslut links instead.

One voice from the literary 1980’s is dead, and New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani’s review of Jay McInerney‘s new novel suggests that another one isn’t doing much better. I don’t usually place a lot of faith in Michiko Kakutani’s conventional and pedantic viewpoints, but I’ve read an occasional late-period McInerney book myself, and I think Kakutani aptly nails his fatal flaw: “He has demonstrated a desire both to satirize his self-indulgent characters and to romanticize their dilemmas, to italicize their moral failings while luxuriating in the surface flash of their lives. At the same time he has often seemed torn between a willingness to skate along lazily on his sardonic humor and grasp for social detail, and his aspiration to tell deeper, more emotionally involving stories.”

I think she’s got him. Maybe Bright Lights Big City, which once seemed truly innovative, was just a lucky stroke. Who would have ever thought that McInerney’s contemporary Bret Easton Ellis would eventually be seen as the more substantial writer of the two?

But there it is. Or maybe it isn’t: Slushpile presents a dissenting view. I think I’ll check out The Good Life myself and settle this matter once and for all.

3 Responses

  1. Wendy WassersteinI read The
    Wendy Wasserstein

    I read The Sisters Rosensweig for a theater class in college, and it was a really good play. I wish I had something more to say about it, but I was a freshman when I read it and that was a while ago, but I remember liking it a lot. And that is all. Neat, huh?

  2. Do you remember what it was
    Do you remember what it was about? Just curious. I guess I could wikipedia it.

  3. There is a brief, but good,
    There is a brief, but good, piece written by Wasserstein about character-driven plays and non-traditional casting here.

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