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Temporarily putting aside his role as playwright, director, and screen-writer, David Mamet digs deep and delivers thirty outrageously diverse vignettes. On subjects ranging from the vanishing American pool hall, family vacations, and the art of being a bitch, to the role of today's actor, his celebrated contemporaries and predecessors, and his undying commitment to the the Temporarily putting aside his role as playwright, director, and screen-writer, David Mamet digs deep and delivers thirty outrageously diverse vignettes. On subjects ranging from the vanishing American pool hall, family vacations, and the art of being a bitch, to the role of today's actor, his celebrated contemporaries and predecessors, and his undying commitment to the theater, David Mamet's concise style, lean dialogue, and gut-wrenching honesty give us a unique view of the world as he sees it.


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Temporarily putting aside his role as playwright, director, and screen-writer, David Mamet digs deep and delivers thirty outrageously diverse vignettes. On subjects ranging from the vanishing American pool hall, family vacations, and the art of being a bitch, to the role of today's actor, his celebrated contemporaries and predecessors, and his undying commitment to the the Temporarily putting aside his role as playwright, director, and screen-writer, David Mamet digs deep and delivers thirty outrageously diverse vignettes. On subjects ranging from the vanishing American pool hall, family vacations, and the art of being a bitch, to the role of today's actor, his celebrated contemporaries and predecessors, and his undying commitment to the theater, David Mamet's concise style, lean dialogue, and gut-wrenching honesty give us a unique view of the world as he sees it.

30 review for Writing in Restaurants: Essays and Prose

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I came away thinking, that most of what Mamet shared were the cranky recollections of an old white guy for the good old days. Moreover, it is tiring to read the many times he complains that these times are depraved and depressing. I would give this essay within, Decay: Thoughts for Actors, 4-stars as valuable. Both has a critique of our culture that constantly pushes for growth and a statement as the purpose of stage craft. This gem is so buried in muck, I can only average it all out to 2-stars. I came away thinking, that most of what Mamet shared were the cranky recollections of an old white guy for the good old days. Moreover, it is tiring to read the many times he complains that these times are depraved and depressing. I would give this essay within, Decay: Thoughts for Actors, 4-stars as valuable. Both has a critique of our culture that constantly pushes for growth and a statement as the purpose of stage craft. This gem is so buried in muck, I can only average it all out to 2-stars. I read this as an accompaniment to a playwriting class. Reading this collection is helpful in understanding Mamet's POV in his plays.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Petri

    I read this because it was short. Never read books because they're short. In fairness, I enjoy Mamet as a playwright and I always like to see the theories by which great writers do their writing. Sometimes they surprise you -- Auden's criticism I could read all day long, every day -- sometimes they live up to Plato's old adage that the last possible person you should ask about how poetry ought to work is a poet. They don't know, either. All they know is that it comes to them. I'm paraphrasing, o I read this because it was short. Never read books because they're short. In fairness, I enjoy Mamet as a playwright and I always like to see the theories by which great writers do their writing. Sometimes they surprise you -- Auden's criticism I could read all day long, every day -- sometimes they live up to Plato's old adage that the last possible person you should ask about how poetry ought to work is a poet. They don't know, either. All they know is that it comes to them. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but that's how this one struck me. I did enjoy his notes about the incantatory, rule-setting power of words at an early age, and the diary from the making of an 80s movie about an Iceman was hilarious in terms of how seriously everyone seemed to be taking the process. His piece on the Oscars as a modern religious ritual is great if you want to be That Guy With The Deep Serious Metaphysical Theory Of The Oscars who is ruining the party and making everyone else huddle around the dip. Actually, if you are That Guy, you'd probably like this whole book. If not, give it a pass and read a play instead. In those, he knows what he's talking about.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric Hensler

    It is everything you would expect from a book of Mamet essays. Acerbic, acrid, acid, bitter and viciously hilarious. (Damn, I had some strong alliteration going there...) Anyway, to the book. It is short and the essays are bite-size but meaty. I have my favorites but I'll leave that part to you to pick yours. Nobody here wants their hand held, I'm sure. I have to spill just a taste of the sauce, though. I have returned many, many times to the essay "True Stories of Bitches." Sit down, rhetoric-b It is everything you would expect from a book of Mamet essays. Acerbic, acrid, acid, bitter and viciously hilarious. (Damn, I had some strong alliteration going there...) Anyway, to the book. It is short and the essays are bite-size but meaty. I have my favorites but I'll leave that part to you to pick yours. Nobody here wants their hand held, I'm sure. I have to spill just a taste of the sauce, though. I have returned many, many times to the essay "True Stories of Bitches." Sit down, rhetoric-breath, it is not what its title would indicate. Ultimately (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) the author himself is the biggest bitch of them all, but it's the circuitous, insightful and stinging route to that end that makes the essay so much more than worth the ten minutes it takes to read. I'm not going to attempt to enumerate the times I've read this little gem since it came out I 1986, but I'll ball-park it at...a lot. Yes it's another of those.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Content aside, I found the rampant homophobia problematic. Even in 1986 it is hard to read works by someone as important in THEATER as Mamet, who then talks pejoratively about homosexuality. Especially when it wasn't relevant to the major points of the essays where this was mentioned. While it is never a neat nor clean endeavor to sift through the human flaws of artists to get to any value of their work, it's important to know WHO IS TELLING THE STORY in order to settle in our own minds how an a Content aside, I found the rampant homophobia problematic. Even in 1986 it is hard to read works by someone as important in THEATER as Mamet, who then talks pejoratively about homosexuality. Especially when it wasn't relevant to the major points of the essays where this was mentioned. While it is never a neat nor clean endeavor to sift through the human flaws of artists to get to any value of their work, it's important to know WHO IS TELLING THE STORY in order to settle in our own minds how an artist moves or inspires us. He is clearly a great playwright but his status should be contextualized along with his homophobic, misogynistic and xenophobic thoughts. How does it affect what he writes? Who he writes about? I also agree with many of the other reviewer's opinion that several of the essays sound like the ramblings of an old crank. I'll get off your lawn, David Mamet. I was on my way anyways...

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Warped One

    “The pursuit of fashion is the attempt of the middle class to co-opt tragedy.” There are so many great thoughts in this book, it reminds you what makes Mamet so great. There are also quite a few thoughts that betray a dated mindset of an adult in the 80s. Phrasing, concepts that seem dated and even cruel at times. I don’t see these as faults of the author, but as a a reflection of the faults of the era in which he writes. Overall enjoyable and insightful, his storytelling as always is sublime.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Crista Cloutier

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. I wanted to finish this book. It did make me want to write for the theater or even radio, but that's not what i'm focused on right now so I've had to set it aside.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Grace

    Mamet is prosaic even in his demands for simplicity. His complex and hard-won premises sometimes conflict (and, occasionally, are horribly outdated), but for the vast majority of the time, his bitter pills are honest and sound advice to the actor climbing up the hill of making art.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tom Li

    It's refreshing to hear the famed writer's views on various aspects of life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    3 1/2 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Unbridled

    Essays. Mamet is at his best telling a story about something that happened to him and his opinions on theatre are interesting too; but he has a tendency to digress in a most plodding manner. The prose is inelegant, and you see immediately the difference between prose and (his strength) dialogue, which, though obvious, you do not necessarily expect until confronted with the evidence. I doubt he can write a good novel. He exhorts his philosophy of action, but his philosophizing seems to commit the Essays. Mamet is at his best telling a story about something that happened to him and his opinions on theatre are interesting too; but he has a tendency to digress in a most plodding manner. The prose is inelegant, and you see immediately the difference between prose and (his strength) dialogue, which, though obvious, you do not necessarily expect until confronted with the evidence. I doubt he can write a good novel. He exhorts his philosophy of action, but his philosophizing seems to commit the act he argues against. In his favor, you do sense a sound and witty intelligence at work and that's a pleasure in its own right. Not warming your hands by the fire of a Mailer-like intellect, but certainly a good conversation over a beer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Fun, unabashed observations and critiques on a variety of subjects from a guy who loves theatre and holds it on a pedestal as an art form above all art forms. Which is probably why his essays relating to theatre are the most rewarding...although his pieces on pool halls and hunting are equally rewarding. But the language is dated and formal, so not all the essays are an easy read. Not as polished as his more recent essays, but whether you agree with him or not, he's always an interesting read, a Fun, unabashed observations and critiques on a variety of subjects from a guy who loves theatre and holds it on a pedestal as an art form above all art forms. Which is probably why his essays relating to theatre are the most rewarding...although his pieces on pool halls and hunting are equally rewarding. But the language is dated and formal, so not all the essays are an easy read. Not as polished as his more recent essays, but whether you agree with him or not, he's always an interesting read, as he doesn't hold anything back.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    This book was given to me by a Mamet fan, and since I'd heard a bit about him I tried it out. I was assuming by the title that this was about writing, but it didn't come across like that to me. It was more thoughts on ideas/topics/etc some of which were entertaining and others I skimmed over. It was interesting reading someone else's thoughts, and reminded me of my college days sifting through the pages for meaning. I'm glad I picked it up but it was a tough read for me, even when I was only rea This book was given to me by a Mamet fan, and since I'd heard a bit about him I tried it out. I was assuming by the title that this was about writing, but it didn't come across like that to me. It was more thoughts on ideas/topics/etc some of which were entertaining and others I skimmed over. It was interesting reading someone else's thoughts, and reminded me of my college days sifting through the pages for meaning. I'm glad I picked it up but it was a tough read for me, even when I was only reading little bits. Maybe in the future I'll be more ready for this book, but at least I tried it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Revolinski

    A collection of short and sometimes random texts. Makes for a good bedside book to be read over time. Great thoughts about theatre and acting, of course, creativity and art, poker and his childhood, and a summary of his experience as a spectator on the set of the sci-fi movie Iceman, which starred his wife. A good bit of criticism of some aspects of American culture that, though written in the 1980s, ring very true in the 21st century. I'd love to hear what he thinks now.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Josh Shelton

    Mamet is awesome and holds a lot of strong opinions. Most of these essays focus on theater, but several can be applied to the state of art in general. The title essay and the one on Bitchiness were favorites of mine. Everything was well-written and enjoyable, even the few that were clearly just introductions to other plays.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roxie

    I disagree with a lot of the author's ideas and beliefs, make no mistake; however, I really adored the way these essays were constructed, how said ideas are presented. These are truly great examples of Literary Essays and they contain some interesting instights about several theater-related crafts.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ann Cefola

    Mamet sees the theater as the location of America's collective unconscious. He has many sharp and validating observations about the pursuit of art within our culture. Fascinating to hear the interior dialogue of a major playwright.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    ok. some of Mamet's essays come off as preachy and naive. There are some great essays on the importance of integrity in theatre. His writing is so articulate and well crafted that it usually makes up for his high horse opinions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    When you become famous you get to have your collected laundry lists, after-dinner speeches, and random samplings of hot air set down in book form, which is what this little collection of largely hyperbolic oddities represents. Damn, if only I were famous...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    I liked these essays, they were well written. I might have liked them even more if I was an actor or an aspiring theatre person in general, but if you aren't they're still a good read and overall are very interesting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Annie Walaszek

    Strangely reassuring for theatre artists of today.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Most of the essays are on dramaturgy and are written for people whose interests lie therein. That said, many of the non-theater essays are excellent.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Della Scott

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11511772 I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11511772

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    "Decay: Some Thoughts for Actors" is the most galvanizing thing ever.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Martin

    Awesome. I think it's even better than 3 uses.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Terence Manleigh

    Smart and pithy essays on the theater and other matters from one of our greatest living playwrights.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Rizzo

    Excellent essays.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marina

    Sad to say that he is basically an asshole. True Stories of Bitchiness is proof enough of it. Too bad there was a good moment or two in some of the early essays.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Drew Cullinan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Rhodes

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

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