!!> Read ➮ Essays ➲ Author Wallace Shawn – Thomashillier.co.uk


  • Hardcover
  • 163 pages
  • Essays
  • Wallace Shawn
  • English
  • 15 December 2019
  • 1608460029

10 thoughts on “Essays

  1. says:

    Some of these essays are five star essays, and some of them seemlike workshop exercises from a promising student Some are interesting purely from their perspective because they are the from the perspective of Wallace Shawn, in a kind of voyeuristic way I finished them all anyway because I find Wallace Shawn to be interesting politically to be in his way a champion of working class politics, albeit from a pampered liberally nested perch I m left to wonder how he operationalizes Some of these essays are five star essays, and some of them seemlike workshop exercises from a promising student Some are interesting purely from their perspective because they are the from the perspective of Wallace Shawn, in a kind of voyeuristic way I finished them all anyway because I find Wallace Shawn to be interesting politically to be in his way a champion of working class politics, albeit from a pampered liberally nested perch I m left to wonder how he operationalizes his politics beyond occasional writing in between good meals at nice restaurants In the end, my favorite piece in this collection was his interview with Mark Strand


  2. says:

    If all you know of Wallace Shawn is what I knew his unforgettable turn as the Sicilian villain Vizzini in The Princess Bride Inconceivable then I think you re in for something of a pleasant surprise Shawn is also an award winning playwright and a public speaker of note, and here he collects go figure essays, spanning several decades and a range of topics including politics, poetry and prurience And he doesn t mention Vizzini even once In fact, it is utterly wrong for me to imagine that B If all you know of Wallace Shawn is what I knew his unforgettable turn as the Sicilian villain Vizzini in The Princess Bride Inconceivable then I think you re in for something of a pleasant surprise Shawn is also an award winning playwright and a public speaker of note, and here he collects go figure essays, spanning several decades and a range of topics including politics, poetry and prurience And he doesn t mention Vizzini even once In fact, it is utterly wrong for me to imagine that Bush is violent and I am not p.79While clear and brief, few of these essays are light reading Many of them were written in the early 2000s, during the darkest years of the Bush league, and reflect the morose tenor of that era Others focus on Shawn s clear recognition of his status as a child of privilege a phrase he uses at least once and paraphrases severaltimes and the classically liberal guilt he feels for being in such a position of comfort This book might be best read in a comfortable armchair, with a full belly, a glass of some warming beverage close to hand, and a warm shawl to pull around the shoulders and even then one might find some of Shawn s reflections disturbing.One specific surprise Shawn handed me is how good an interviewer he is There are two extended interviews in this book, and in both of them Shawn deftly allows his interlocutor to take most of the limelight.The first interview is with Noam Chomsky, and while he and Chomsky are certainly playing on the same side of the net, their conversational volleys are still engrossing Shawn does put forth what I think is a rather clever analogy p.68 , comparing Chomsky s approach to that of a sculptor, performing what could be seen as aggressive acts of removal, of negativity, but eventually yielding a positive result.The second interview is with poet Mark Strand Here Shawn definitely lets Strand have the best lines I think if you try too hard to be immediately comprehensible to your audience, if you give too much to the moment, you re also giving too much to the status quo p.134Another line from Strand s interview even inspired me to write some brief verse which is perhaps not a recommendation You don t read a poem to find out how to get to Twenty fourth Street p.128But here s how anywayAt least where streets are christenedwith their proper ordinals First you find out where you areAnd then subtractThis is a slim collection the individual pieces tend to be very short, and the whole thing s easy to read in a single day unlike the last book I read, by another Jewish New Yorker, Joshua Cohen s Witz, which took me weeks to finish Shawn s book reassured me that I do remember how to read But despite their brevity, these essays contain a lot to chew on I ll be ruminating on Shawn s lucid observations for some time to come


  3. says:

    Chapter Six is best and has a very worthwhile interview with Noam Chomsky where Noam says, the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon I mean, wipe out every Amalekite to the last man, woman and child that s supposed to be gentle and wonderful The opposition to Social Security is simple you must first drive the concept of caring for others out of your head Social Security is based on the idea that you care That s a dangerous sentiment You re supposed to jus Chapter Six is best and has a very worthwhile interview with Noam Chomsky where Noam says, the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon I mean, wipe out every Amalekite to the last man, woman and child that s supposed to be gentle and wonderful The opposition to Social Security is simple you must first drive the concept of caring for others out of your head Social Security is based on the idea that you care That s a dangerous sentiment You re supposed to just be out for yourself The only choices you are supposed to make are the choices of commodities In America there is this fantasy that hard work gets people ahead, but Noam knows this is only because there is a dynamic state sector the internet, computer, pharmaceuticals and other wonderful inventions all came from government subsidy, not a young Bill Gates working alone in his garage Taxes paid by Americans repeatedly pay for the technology that we then pay for again personally while assuming we are handing money to the inventor, not the license holder


  4. says:

    Wallace Shawn is a playwright whose work I have neither read nor seen Though I did see two of his acting performances, as himself in My Dinner with Andre and as the Sicilian Vizzini in The Princess Bride Then, oo, he is the son of William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker when I thought it was at its best I was therefore surprised to see this short collection of Essays, which I picked up with interest I mean, I wanted to see what Vizzini had to say beyond Inconceivable His essays are un Wallace Shawn is a playwright whose work I have neither read nor seen Though I did see two of his acting performances, as himself in My Dinner with Andre and as the Sicilian Vizzini in The Princess Bride Then, oo, he is the son of William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker when I thought it was at its best I was therefore surprised to see this short collection of Essays, which I picked up with interest I mean, I wanted to see what Vizzini had to say beyond Inconceivable His essays are under two main headings Reality, mostly about politics, and Dream World, mostly about art Most writers are trapped by their own linguistic misconceptions, but I found Shawn to be incredibly focused Roger Moore describes him as a gentle and incisive soul, and his essays bear that out I also enjoyed the books two interviews, one with Noam Chomsky and the other with poet Mark Strand Now I want to read some of Shawn s plays


  5. says:

    A quick read and engaging, Shawn s spunky, refreshing take on politics and the arts exactly mirrors the kind of pugnacious Vizzini character he played in Princess Bride As fresh a take as it is, it s also and strangely exactly what you might have expected given the little you know about the man s personality direct, inventive, andthan a little self serving though with a wink.His interview with Chomsky is expectedly rewarding, and he offers harsh but eloquent in their crispness crit A quick read and engaging, Shawn s spunky, refreshing take on politics and the arts exactly mirrors the kind of pugnacious Vizzini character he played in Princess Bride As fresh a take as it is, it s also and strangely exactly what you might have expected given the little you know about the man s personality direct, inventive, andthan a little self serving though with a wink.His interview with Chomsky is expectedly rewarding, and he offers harsh but eloquent in their crispness critiques of the U.S with regards to Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and Palestine He has an impressive way of framing issues that makes it seem impossible to imagine another way of seeing it A representative passage occurs early on, in the second essay, and it serves as a sort of thesis for the types of political arguments you can expect from most of the book In contrast to the African miner who works underground doing painfully difficult labor in terrifying conditions and then receives a minuscule reward, I have a life that is extremely pleasant I have enough money to buy myself warm and comfortable shoes and sweaters each Wednesday I pay a nice person to clean my apartment and keep it neat and each April at tax time I pay my government to perform a similar service in the world outside I pay it to try to keep the worldor less as it is, so that next year it will not suddenly be me who is working a seventy hour week in some godforsaken pit or digging in some field under the burning sun It s all terrific, but my problem is that my government is the medium through which I conduct my relationships with most of my fellow human beings, and I m obliged to note that its actions don t conform to the principles of morality Yes, I may be a friendly fellow to meet on the street, but I ve found, through my government, a sneaky way to do some terrible things 27 8To sum up, this is a nice book to read if it comes across your path, as it did mine It s a quick read, breezy, but also filled with important ideas I wasn t expecting to keep it after reading, but it has enough of value to have earned a place on my shelf.Not Bad Reviews blakerosser1


  6. says:

    I m rather disposed to like Wallace Shawn for a variety of reasons, not least of which being that I ve seen My Dinner with Andre perhaps three dozen times, and Vanya on 42nd Street two dozen Despite being famous for his work as the world s most immediately recognizable character actors such as the homunculus of Woody Allen s Manhattan , his own plays signal the depth of his intelligence and insight, and suggest an artistic centeraligned with his stupendous collaborations with Andre I m rather disposed to like Wallace Shawn for a variety of reasons, not least of which being that I ve seen My Dinner with Andre perhaps three dozen times, and Vanya on 42nd Street two dozen Despite being famous for his work as the world s most immediately recognizable character actors such as the homunculus of Woody Allen s Manhattan , his own plays signal the depth of his intelligence and insight, and suggest an artistic centeraligned with his stupendous collaborations with Andre Gregory When I learned that this book existed I was immediately curious I ve heard Shawn interviewed at length and knew him to be droll, acerbic, and perceptive So I had to give it a shot The book contains a slender assortment of essays, many of which treat the politics of post 9 11 America I d say it is his autobiographical reflections on his own upbringing, and his own ambivalent relationship between his artistic work and the patronage that makes it possible, that is the primary driver of his political sensibility, which generalizes his sense of collective responsibility for all the various and terrible things that have been done by politicians and businesspeople during the dark years of the early 2000s He makes his case passing well and in thought provoking terms, but I must say I don t share his strong sense of collaborative guilt In my view, I m not responsible for policies that I oppose, undertaken by politicians I didn t vote for for In this sense, I could only participate to a limited degree in his exercises Shawn s sense of outrage was poorly served by a surprisingly flat interview he conducts with Noam Chomasky Instead of his usual razor sharp analysis, Chomsky indulges with Shawn in a lot of high handed Can you believe these people back and forth I was extremely impressed by Shawn s short essay on Israel s position in the world, which put the matter as well as it could be said The final third of the book focuses on literary matters, including a long interview he conducted with the poet Mark Strand


  7. says:

    I don t know how much I like Wallace Shawn but I kind of love him This collection, split in halves, covers Shawn s political and artistic essays, the division of which he elucidates in his introduction In both, his personality comes pouring out of every page He s equal parts angry and reverent, with a clear awareness of his upper middle class status and how it affects his thought Now, that s going to do one of a few things to you as the reader You might love that he s being honest and ru I don t know how much I like Wallace Shawn but I kind of love him This collection, split in halves, covers Shawn s political and artistic essays, the division of which he elucidates in his introduction In both, his personality comes pouring out of every page He s equal parts angry and reverent, with a clear awareness of his upper middle class status and how it affects his thought Now, that s going to do one of a few things to you as the reader You might love that he s being honest and run with it You might hate that he s a privileged white guy saying privileged white guy things and run with that Or you might ignore it altogether and try to focus on the content of the essays, which is often really interesting and originally explored if somewhat redundant in the Reality section I kind of hit all three, at various points I don t think Wally and I would have fun chatting over dinner he seems like kind of a dick conversational companion, judging by the transcribed interviews included here , but that said I love that there is someone like him writing.I wanted really badly to give this collection 4 stars, if only because of some truly excellent work in the art section his perspectives on theatre, holy fuck Myself and How I Got into Theatre and Reading Plays gave me unbelievable thrills but he should stick to that His political essays lacked a certain spark that flew in his art ones, and they just weren t the same quality That said, each essay was enjoyable to some extentjust wish the second half was longer It sthan worth your time


  8. says:

    Wallace Shawn is probably best known for saying Inconceivable in The Princess Bride, but I prefer to remember him from the exquisite film My Dinner with Andre His father was William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker for many years This book contains an eclectic set of essays written over a 23 year span of time Many are political, and while I agree with his progressive points, he doesn t really propose actionable solutions other than to influence society positively with art, which is hardly a Wallace Shawn is probably best known for saying Inconceivable in The Princess Bride, but I prefer to remember him from the exquisite film My Dinner with Andre His father was William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker for many years This book contains an eclectic set of essays written over a 23 year span of time Many are political, and while I agree with his progressive points, he doesn t really propose actionable solutions other than to influence society positively with art, which is hardly a new or controversial idea though certainly a good one.The best articles are his two interviews with Noam Chomsky and Mark Strand, where Shawn proves himself to be a very thoughtful interviewer in fact, these conversations brought to mind those in My Dinner with Andre, which may explain why I enjoyed them so much This is a short book, and uneven, but a worthwhile read for fans of the author


  9. says:

    So he s famous for theater, and I always thought I would admire him, having enjoyed what I read, and of course enjoying Malle s film of My Dinner With Andre Reading the first essay in this collection was a total turnoff for its trite obviousness reminiscent of the episode in Malcolm X s Autobiography where a white patron at the cotton club generously and patronizingly throws his arms around a black stranger s neck and declares you re just as good as I am Thanks for the validation I have So he s famous for theater, and I always thought I would admire him, having enjoyed what I read, and of course enjoying Malle s film of My Dinner With Andre Reading the first essay in this collection was a total turnoff for its trite obviousness reminiscent of the episode in Malcolm X s Autobiography where a white patron at the cotton club generously and patronizingly throws his arms around a black stranger s neck and declares you re just as good as I am Thanks for the validation I have to put the essays aside before they threaten to force a reevaluation, and I ll let Shawn s theater speak for him Maybe he s better when filtered through character and scenario That s what he does, right


  10. says:

    It s a strange book in some ways the order in which the essays appear seems odd why divide all the aesthetic ones from the political ones why end with the one about writing about sex and many of the essays, I think, were a little stronger in their original versions But there s so much excellent thinking packed into this book that I d have no qualms about recommending it to anyone at all.


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EssaysFull Of What You Might Call Conversation Starters Tricky Propositions About Morality Politics, Privilege, Runaway Nationalist Fantasies, Collective Guilt, And Art As A Force For Change Or Not It S A Treat To Hear Him Speak His Curious Mind O MagazineIn These Beautiful Essays, Wallace Shawn Takes Us On A Revelatory Journey In Which The Personal And Political Become OneWhether Writing About The Genesis Of His Plays, Such As Aunt Dan And Lemon Discussing How The Privileged World Of Arts And Letters Takes For Granted The Work Of The Unobtrusives, The People Who Serve Our Food And Deliver Our Mail Or Describing His Upbringing In The Sheltered World Of Manhattan S Cultural Elite, Shawn Reveals A Unique Ability To Step Back From The Appearance Of Things To Explore Their Deeper Social Meanings He Grasps Contradictions, Even When Unpleasant, And Challenges Us To Look, As He Does, At Our Own Behavior In A Honest Light He Also Finds The Pathos In The Political And Personal Challenges Of Everyday LifeWith A Sharp Wit, Remarkable Attention To Detail, And The Same Acumen As A Writer Of Prose As He Is A Playwright, Shawn Invites Us To Look At The World With New Eyes, The Better To Understand And Change ItPraise For Wallace Shawn And Essays Lovely, Hilarious And Seriously Thought Provoking, I Enjoyed It Tremendously Toni Morrison Wallace Shawn Writes In A Style That Is Deceptively Simple, Profoundly Thoughtful, Fiercely Honest His Vocabulary Is Pungent, His Wit Delightful, His Ideas Provocative Howard Zinn, Author, A People S History Of The United States Wally Shawn S Essays Are Both Powerful And Riveting How Rare To Encounter Someone Willing To Question The Assumptions Of Class And The Disparity Of Wealth That Grows Wider Every Year In This Country To Have Such A Gentle And Incisive Soul Willing To Say What Others May Be Afraid To Is Considerably Refreshing Michael Moore, Film Maker Shawn S Language, His Unmistakable, Original Voice, Felicitous, Is Unadorned, Elegant, Immediate, True He S Also A Brilliant Interviewer, As Everyone Who S Seen My Dinner With Andre Which Is Just About Everyone Knows And, Of Course, He S Very Funny Tony Kushner, Playwright, Angels In America Wallace Shawn Is A Bracing Antidote To The Op Ed Dreariness Of Political And Artistic Journalism In The West He Takes You Back To The Days When Intellectuals Had The Wit And Concentration To Formulate Great Questions And To Make The Reader Want To Answer Them David Hare, PlaywrightWallace ShawnWallace Shawn Is An Obie Award Winning Playwright And A Noted Stage And Screen Actor Star Trek, Gossip Girl, The Princess Bride, Toy Story His Plays The Designated Mourner And Marie And Bruce Have Recently Been Produced As Films He Is Co Author Of The Movie My Dinner With Andre And Author Of The Plays The Fever, The Designated Mourner, Aunt Dan And Lemon, And Grasses Of A Thousand Colours


About the Author: Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn, sometimes credited as Wally Shawn, is an American actor and playwright Regularly seen on film and television, where he is usually cast as a comic character actor, he has pursued a parallel career as a playwright whose work is often dark, politically charged and controversial He is widely known for his high pitched nasal voice and slight lisp.