Lost in Yonkers

( 6 )


It is 1942, and teenagers Jay and Arty have lost their mother to cancer. Their father hopes to find work in the South, so he leaves them in the care of their Grandma Kurnitz in Yonkers. Here, the boys also meet their daffy Aunt Bella and small-time gangster Uncle Louie. The boys settle into an apartment above Grandma's candy store and begin a new life with this peculiar family. Soon it becomes clear that Grandma's harsh, unforgiving nature has had a crippling effect on the emotional lives of her children. Winner ...
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It is 1942, and teenagers Jay and Arty have lost their mother to cancer. Their father hopes to find work in the South, so he leaves them in the care of their Grandma Kurnitz in Yonkers. Here, the boys also meet their daffy Aunt Bella and small-time gangster Uncle Louie. The boys settle into an apartment above Grandma's candy store and begin a new life with this peculiar family. Soon it becomes clear that Grandma's harsh, unforgiving nature has had a crippling effect on the emotional lives of her children. Winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Play, and the Pulitzer Prize in drama, Lost in Yonkers is about finding one's way through the tangled web of family relationships without losing the sense of self. "The best play Simon ever wrote." — New York Post
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Simon's 1991 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play about two young boys who are forced to live for a year with their domineering, ill-tempered grandmother while their father takes a job in another state is beautifully realized by the L.A. Theatre Works cast. Like most of Simon's works, this one features an eccentric cast of characters. Listeners meet Aunt Gert (played by Gia Carides), whose voice frequently switches into a wheeze midsentence, and Uncle Louie (played by Dan Castellaneta), a Bogart-like gangster. This production realizes Simon's trademark mix of comedy and drama: the one-liners are hilarious, but the characters' sad, dysfunctional relationships are poignant. The compassionate, three-dimensional performances, combined with Simon's nuanced writing and authentic rendering of 1940s speech, make the listener fully believe in these realistic, complex characters. Standout performers include Roxanne Hart as the boys' kindhearted but nervous Aunt Bella and Barbara Bain as Grandma Kurnitz, whose tough, coldhearted exterior is a reaction to a lifetime of devastating pain and loss. Also excellent are Ben Diskin and Kenneth Schmidt as the young boys. At first lonely and miserable, fearing and hating their stern grandmother, they gradually come to respect and understand her. Based on the Random House hardcover. (Jan. 9) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-- An insightful drama about one woman's drive and its emotional toll on her and her family. Grandma Kurnitz has endured many crises, ranging from a harsh childhood in Germany to being a young widow with six children in a foreign country. From her life she learned to be strong, hard, and cold, and this is the lesson she tries to instill in her four remaining children. While her two teenage grandsons are in her care, the three learn the importance of being loved and loving, and the difference between living and surviving. The themes of family ties and the search for love should strike a responsive chord with many young adults.-- Patricia A. Long, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452268838
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: Drama, Plume Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 183,063
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Since 1960, a Broadway season without a Neil Simon comedy or musical has been a rare one. His first play was Come Blow Your Horn, followed by the musical Little Me. During the 1966-67 season, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Sweet Charity, and The Star-Spangled Girl were all running simultaneously; in the 1970-71 season, Broadway theatergoers had their choice of Plaza Suite, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Promises, Promises. Next came The Gingerbread Lady, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys, The Good Doctor, God's Favorite, California Suite, Chapter Two, the musical They're Playing Our Song, I Ought to Be in Pictures, Brighton Beach Memoirs (which won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play of 1983), Biloxi Blues (which won the Tony Award for Best Play of 1985), and the female version of The Odd Couple.

Mr. Simon began his writing career in television, writing “The Phil Silvers Show” and Sid Caesar's “Your Show of Shows.”  He has also written the screen adaptations of Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys, California Suite, Chapter Two, and I Ought to Be in Pictures. His original screenplays include The Out-of-Towners, The Hearbreak Kid, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl, The Cheap Detective, Seems Like Old Times, Only When I Laugh, Max Dugan Returns, and The Slugger's Wife. He received the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for Lost in Yonkers.

One of the most respected and prolific playwrights of all time, Simon lives in California and New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2009

    Lost in Yonkers by Cori Hoberman

    If there were one place during the 1940's that I wouldn't want to get lost in, it would be Yonkers, especially if you're forced to live with a cruel grandmother while you father is off working to cure the family's financial problems. Living with their grandma meant, no love, no hope, no mother, and no money. The characters lives provide little interest for the reader, making the book, Lost in Yonker, by Neil Simon, not that exciting.

    The characters in this novel are the reasons to put this book down. They confuse and bore you. For example, the character Louie was a pointless character; he just gave the author more words to put on the page. Another example is the charater Grandma. Grandma is one character you don't want to get involved with. She's a grouchy, selfish, and cruel person. She has no friends and hardly any family. She never showed any love or support for her them, and all she did was treat them the way she was treated back when she was a little girl living in Germany. That is why her son Eddie has no self-esteem, her other son Louie is a small time gangster, her daughter Gert has a speech impediment, and her other daughter Bella has the metality of a child. There were two other children but they both passed away. Eddie's two sons, Arty and Jay, are forced to live with her for ten months, and it's a miracle how they even survive.

    If I were to give this book a rating, out of five stars, I would give it a two. I don't recommend this book, because it's not worth reading something that will not hold your interest. If Neil Simon was willing to change each character and the plot of the story, you might want to consider readng it. This book was originally a play, and it should have stayed that way.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    Lost in Yonkers Review

    Have you ever been to Yonkers? Well, if you haven't the play "Lost in Yonkers", by Neil Simon, takes place in the city of Yonkers. The author really describes the feelings of this city. He does this by uses words to describe the poor, rundown neighborhood. The book takes place in the year 1946. During the 1940's World War II was happening. Also, the country was recovering from the great depression.
    There are only seven main characters; their names are Jay, Arty, Eddie, Bella, Grandma, Louie, Gert and Jay/ Arty's dad. This play is told from the point of view of Arty and Jay. The main idea of this story is that Jay and Arty have to stay at their grandmother's apartment. The two kids have to stay there because their father is in search of money to pay back a loan shark. As the kids stay at their grandmothers home they learn new lessons and the learn information about their family members.
    "Lost in Yonkers" is fun and easy to read and it teaches an important lesson about survival, that many should learn. In the play, Neil Simon teaches the lesson of survival by showing that you can learn from your older folks. Jay and Arty learn how to live on their own. Their grandmother's harsh German heritage instructs lessons into Jay and Arty.

    I would recommend this book. This book is a new way to read because it is written in a form of a play. Neil Simon uses the characters voice choice to describe feelings and emotions. If I was to rate this play from 1 to10, I would give it an 8. Once again I would recommend this book to anyone who is forward to reading in a different style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Lost in Yonkers book review

    What happens when people are in the absence of love? In the fictional play, ¿Lost in Yonkers.¿ By Neil Simon two young teenagers must cope with their grandmother while their father goes to make money. Without the love of their dad and their hard- hearted grandma right next to them, all they have are themselves to care for. When Jay and Arty¿s mother died from cancer, their father, Eddie, had to spend an exorbitant amount of money. Because of this, he needed to go and work to regain the money, forcing him to leave Jay and Arty with their grandma while he went south to look for work. While the young teens were living with their grandma they had to do whatever she said or they would be kicked out. Their grandma shows no empathy for them as they live in her lifeless house. ¿Lost in Yonkers,¿ was uninteresting and a forgettable play. I agree with the authors opinions that love is something that kids need. Jay and Arty are in the absence of love when the only people they have to love them are each other. I did not like this play because it was neither entertaining nor original. Out of a five I would give it a two. I don¿t recommend this book to people because I did not enjoy it. It was unrealistic and very shallow. It did not give much detail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    I enjoyed this one

    When I first bought this book, since I am a first time Neil Simon reader I was excited to read some of his work. I was not disappointed. This drama takes place in Yonkers, New York in the 1940s, set during WWII. The characters have depth and a feeling of genuineness to them. The twisted web the story weaves has a few common threads: living versus surviving and the need for love. This is a ¿moving drama about the cruelties and painful memories that scar a family.¿ This play is funny in the typical Neil Simon style and yet is also heartrending because of the reality of the issues portrayed. The book is not very long, and is not a difficult read. There is light language used in a few spots, but I believe that is appropriate for young adult readers, especially since it helps illustrate the characters and fits with the setting of the drama. I think that you will be moved by this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2002


    Lost In Yonkers, to me, began as a wimsical play of humor and jokes, a snappy and clever launching of the plot, and funny, almost silly characters. As i began to digest and become one with the play itself i realized it was but so much more. the play is fantastic, filled with drama, tears, moments so tense and beautiful they shook my heart right in my chest, palpitated every gland of eagerness that i posess, and severed whatever boundary i formerly had in between okay play and brilliant play. I loved it, and most everyone should. Get it, trust me, you'll laugh and cheer and cry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2001


    This was a very great play. It's funny and comical, but dramatic with wisdom. The changes in the characters occur obvious, but subtle. It starts out seemingly to be about the two main boys, Arty and Jay, who have to stay with their Grandmother for a long while, but shifts into focussing on Grandma Kurnitz and her life.

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