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David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre

Overview

Author, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, David Mamet is often referred to as the quintessential American writer. His works are known for their clever and terse dialogue and have earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross and Oscar nominations for House of Games as well as The Spanish Prisoner, Wag the Dog, and The Verdict. This comprehensive biography uses extensive theater and film archives to reveal in detail his ideas on writing—including the genesis for many of his plays—acting, and directing....

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Overview

Author, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, David Mamet is often referred to as the quintessential American writer. His works are known for their clever and terse dialogue and have earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross and Oscar nominations for House of Games as well as The Spanish Prisoner, Wag the Dog, and The Verdict. This comprehensive biography uses extensive theater and film archives to reveal in detail his ideas on writing—including the genesis for many of his plays—acting, and directing. Beginning with his Chicago origins, the work goes on to cover his relationship to Judaism, his reputation for machismo, as well as discussions of and excerpts from early plays and stories that have never before been referenced in print. Also included are interviews with key actors and directors such as William H. Macy, Mike Nussbaum, Robert Brustein, and Neil Pepe.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Nadel (Tom Stoppard: A Life) has turned his analytical eye to Chicago-born playwright David Mamet. Mamet's plays American Buffaloand Glengarry Glen Rossput him on the theatrical map, the latter winning him a Pulitzer Prize. In addition, Nadel discusses Mamet's television and Hollywood career in depth. Mamet wrote a number of episodes for the series Hill Street Bluesand directed such successful films as House of Games, Wag the Dog, and The Verdict. Nadel explores Mamet's Chicago youth and the influence the city and his neighborhood had on his creations, his relationship to Judaism, and the emotional violence he exhibits throughout his work. He also studies the "Mamet style" of dialog in which characters speak in a clipped, rapid-fire manner that challenges the audience to pay attention. Of particular interest is Nadel's exploration of Mamet's characters and the real people who inspired them. Nadel draws on interviews, archival resources, and anecdotes from those who knew and worked with the playwright. Recommended for all theater and film study collections. (Index not seen.)
—Susan Peters

From the Publisher
"Nadel aims high....synching up the full range of Mamet's work with his closely guarded personal affairs. It helps that the raw material on both counts is memorably vivid."—The New York Times Book Review

"This is compelling stuff—front row seats to the life of one of America's most influential playwrights. Mamet moves me and makes me jealous like few other writers can; this little jewel of a biography helps me appreciate the man as much as the work. An essential read."—Neil LaBute, Writer/Director

"I worked on more than twenty of David Mamet's plays, and I still learned a lot. Ira Nadel did his #%&*$ homework."—Gregory Mosher, Director, Arts Initiative, Columbia University

“Drawing upon David Mamet’s essays, interviews, and literary works, as well as the recollections of actors and directors with whom this seminal has worked, Ira Nadel has written a thoughtful, compelling, and often gritty account of the life and career of one of the 20th century’s most gifted writers. Nadel’s biography skillfully juxtaposes Mamet’s life in Chicago and Vermont with the machismo, marginality, and Jewish identity that inform Mamet’s life and work.”—Leslie Kane, Emeritus Professor of English, Westfield State College and author Weasels and Wiseman: Ethics and Ethnicity in the Work of David Mamet

"A fascinating biography of one of America's greatest living playwrights. A must read for anyone interested in the theatre."—Amanda Foreman, author of the Whitbread-award winning Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

"Nadel’s style of writing, like his subject’s, is very down-to-business. There is a wealth of information contained in these nearly three hundred pages."—Man in Chair

Praise for Ira Nadel:

"Readers may find themselves swept away." —American Theatre

"Nadel ...has written what will surely be the standard account for some years to come."—Weekly Standard

"The best and most complete Stoppard biography available, this is a no-brainer acquisition."—Library Journal

"Ira Nadel lifts the lid on this most brilliant of living playwrights...Mr. Nadel clearly knows his subject."—New York Sun

"His work is always scrupulous and exhaustive, coming alive."—Book Magazine

"This new biography is a superb introduction to both the dramatist and his life and a study of how the two often intersect."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230378711
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 998,153
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ira Nadel is a well-known critic and biographer. The author of the acclaimed Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen and Tom Stoppard. He is currently a professor of English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations     xi
Acknowledgments     xv
Introduction     1
City of Fact     11
South of the Northeast Kingdom     33
Off-Loop     63
South Side Gypsy     81
The American Way     115
Soldier of Fortune     145
A Jew in the Nineties     171
Book of Games     203
Arcade Amusement     229
Notes     251
Index     273
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