Wendy and the Lost Boys
by Julie Salamon |
REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD
Playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died in 2006 at age 55, “came of age when women were supposed to do it all,” writes Salamon in this intriguing biography, which shows both how close Wasserstein came to achieving that Boomer ideal and how much the effort cost her. Raised by proud, ambitious, New York immigrant parents whose idea of female success was a smart marriage (for her 13th birthday, Wendy got charm-school classes), she channeled her longing for more into plays that captured her generation’s struggles. She won a Tony and the Pulitzer for The Heidi Chronicles in 1989, yet happiness, and lasting love, eluded her. Rejecting more than one devoted bore, she fell for gay pals like fellow playwrights Christopher Durang and Terrence McNally, then scrambled to have a child on her own in her 40s. In her final days, as she lay in a Manhattan hospital battling the lymphoma her friends feared resulted from years of fertility treatments (doctors say there’s no connection), Wasserstein told her mother she was actually traveling. “I’ve met a man,” she added. Sadly, that says it all.
by Amy Waldman |
REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT
In this fierce, frighteningly real novel about 9/11 and its aftermath, a New York City jury, tasked with choosing among anonymously submitted designs for a memorial, picks a garden that turns out to be the brainchild of an American-born Muslim, Mohammad Khan. Suddenly the choice becomes a personal and political powder keg. Weaving a dazzling tapestry of connected characters-from an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant who takes a stand, to Khan himself, who refuses to be any group’s mouthpiece-Waldman gives human faces to both Islamic zealotry and misguided patriotism. “Remembering and recovering” isn’t easy, this extraordinary book shows, but when divisiveness hampers our shared struggle to heal, the tragedy is even worse.
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller |
REVIEWED BY ERIC LIEBETRAU
The author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight returns with a companion piece to that bestselling 2001 memoir. Displaying a knack for well-chosen details, Fuller moves across time to narrate the story of her quirky family and their various homes in exotic locales, including Isle of Skye, Scotland, Kenya and Rhodesia. Despite an annoying habit of emphasizing certain points with Unnecessary Caps, the author charms with wry humor and a keen sense of her family’s oddities. Most importantly, she allows her bold Mum’s distinct voice to shine through with full-bodied, always-entertaining remembrances.
Girls in White Dresses
by Jennifer Close |
REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI
For many women of a certain age, this debut will ring bells. Wedding bells, to be exact. Set in New York City, the novel details the agonies of a group of young pals pursuing careers and men. The characters are overly similar and their fixation on marriage smacks of earlier eras. Still, an uncanny portrait emerges of a time in life marked by too many hangovers, bad dates and bridal showers-as well as an abundance of solid friendships.