By Wallace Shawn

cover image of Essays

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A collection of “deceptively simple, profoundly thoughtful, fiercely honest” essays on art, life, and politics by the acclaimed actor and playwright (Howard Zinn, author of Political Awakenings and Indispensable Zinn).
Whether 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 people who serve our food and deliver our mail; describing his upbringing in the sheltered world of Manhattan’s cultural elite; or engaging in a fascinating interview with Noam Chomsky, Wallace Shawn has a unique ability to step back from the appearance of things to explore their deeper social meanings.
In these essays, Shawn grasps the unpleasant contradictions of modern life and challenges us to look at our own behavior in a more honest light. He also finds the pathos in the political and personal challenges of everyday life. With the same sharp wit and remarkable attention to detail that he brings to his critically acclaimed plays, Shawn invites us to look at the world with new eyes, the better to understand—and change it.
“Full 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 Magazine
“Lovely, hilarious and seriously thought provoking, I enjoyed it tremendously.” —Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature