Neil Simon Rewrites: A Memoir

ISBN 13: 9780684826721

Rewrites: A Memoir

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9780684826721: Rewrites: A Memoir

The popular playwright and author of Barefoot in the Park recounts his painful childhood, his many influences, anecdotes from his career, and the devastating death of his wife. 100,000 first printing. Tour.

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Review:

After serving an apprenticeship under Sid Caesar and Phil Silvers in Los Angeles, Neil Simon returned to New York at age 30 to embark on a career as a playwright. Some 35 years and three dozen plays later, the most successful comedy writer in the history of the American stage is still at it. In Rewrites, Simon reflects on his career, his relationship with his older brother and mentor Danny, and the loss of his wife Joan to cancer. Along the way, he reveals the price he has paid for his achievements: "I felt like I had stopped relating to people as friends, relatives, acquaintances.... Instead they turned into my victims, as I ripped their private souls from their being, feeding my hunger, my insatiable desire to use them in my writings, in my plays, in my thoughts."

From the Publisher:

Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite, The Goodbye Girl, The Out-of-Towners, The Sunshine Boys -- Neil Simon's plays and movies have kept many millions of people laughing for almost four decades. Today he is recognized not only as the most successful American playwright of all time, but also as one of the greatest.

More than the humor, however, it is the humanity of Neil Simon's vision that has made him America's most beloved playwright and earned him such enduring success. Now, in Rewrites, he has written a funny, deeply touching memoir, filled with details and anecdotes of the writing life and rich with the personal experiences that underlie his work.

Since Come Blow Your Horn first opened on Broadway in 1960, few seasons have passed without the appearance of another of his laughter-filled plays, and indeed on numerous occasions two or more of his works have been running simultaneously. But his success was something Neil Simon never took for granted, nor was the talent to create laughter something that he ever treated carelessly: it took too long for him to achieve the kind of acceptance -- both popular and critical -- that he craved, and the path he followed frequently was pitted with hard decisions.

All of Neil Simon's plays are to some extent a reflection of his life, sometimes autobiographical, other times based on the experiences of those close to him. What the reader of this warm, nostalgic memoir discovers, however, is that the plays, although grounded in Neil Simon's own experience, provide only a glimpse into the mind and soul of this very private man.

In Rewrites, he tells of the painful discord he endured at home as a child, of his struggles to develop his talent as a writer, and of his insecurities when dealing with what proved to be his first great success -- falling in love. Supporting players in the anecdote-filled memoir include Sid Caesar, Jerry Lewis, Walter Matthau, Robert Redford, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse, Maureen Stapleton, George C. Scott, Peter Sellers, and Mike Nichols. But always at center stage is his first love, his wife Joan, whose death in the early seventies devastated him, and whose love and inspiration illuminate this remarkable and revealing self-portrait. Rewrites is rich in laughter and emotion, and filled with the memories of a sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet life.

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