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Our Town (Perennial Classics)

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Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Marg Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Margulies, who writes, "You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play." In addition, Tappan Wilder has written an eye-opening new Afterword, which includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material.


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Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Marg Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Margulies, who writes, "You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play." In addition, Tappan Wilder has written an eye-opening new Afterword, which includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material.

30 review for Our Town (Perennial Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

    *Read for class* I enjoyed this WAY more than I thought I would. I expected it to just be boring Americana which is totally not my thing but the last act just totally blew me away. It was profound and thoughtful and terrifyingly accurate, but very well done.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    "So all that was going on and we never noticed...Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?” To answer poor dead Emily's question: I know I don't. Especially not today. Not on this Fourth of July. Most Independence Days I think about hot dogs, potato salad, Souza, and fireworks. And maybe--for a brief moment—about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This year, though, I am thinking about ever "So all that was going on and we never noticed...Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?” To answer poor dead Emily's question: I know I don't. Especially not today. Not on this Fourth of July. Most Independence Days I think about hot dogs, potato salad, Souza, and fireworks. And maybe--for a brief moment—about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This year, though, I am thinking about everything we have lost. Little towns like "Our Town," eaten up by urban sprawl or abandoned to the ghosts of the plains. Our sense of a common purpose. Our civility. Our truthfulness. Our faith in our justice system to bring about justice. Our belief that science and government can make things better. Our openness to the strangers among us--especially the children of strangers. Our friendships with people who are different—or who believe different things—from ourselves. And even our ability to agree about what flags should be honored and how our national holidays should be celebrated. The only hope I have is that, by being honest with ourselves, by spending a few moments this Fourth of July reflecting on all America has lost, we may perhaps realize--now, this minute--how wonderful our life on earth—in our America, in our town—really is.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    “Does anybody realize what life is while they're living it -- every, every minute?” ― Thornton Wilder, Our Town It's been years perhaps a decade or more since I last read OUR TOWN. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is. It is easy to see why this is one of the heavy hitters of the American Theatre. Our Town has been called "Wilder's hymn to ordinary lives," and so it is. 81 years later this powerful piece of theatre has lost none of it's charm. In OUR TOWN, Wilder expertly explores the beauty and sor “Does anybody realize what life is while they're living it -- every, every minute?” ― Thornton Wilder, Our Town It's been years perhaps a decade or more since I last read OUR TOWN. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is. It is easy to see why this is one of the heavy hitters of the American Theatre. Our Town has been called "Wilder's hymn to ordinary lives," and so it is. 81 years later this powerful piece of theatre has lost none of it's charm. In OUR TOWN, Wilder expertly explores the beauty and sorrow of human life. Wilder blends meditations on the ever evolving course of human existence with a heartfelt picture of life in small-town America. The first act unfolds, depicting 24 hours in the life of this average American town as we slowly see the characters reveal their souls to us. Wilder expertly blends comic vignettes that artfully show us the love, compassion and understanding that these characters are built upon. In Act II, Wilder explores “Love and Marriage.” Once more, the audience is transported back to events in George and Emily’s life; this time their wedding day. We hear various characters’ opinions about marriage, which compels them to make their own judgment and promotes the idea that while marriage may be another part of daily life, “each marriage is different from all the others, and no definition could satisfy everybody." The third act takes place nine years later in the summer of 1913. The Stage Manager explains how things have slowly changed in that time, such as fewer horses on Main Street and people locking their doors at night. He walks into the cemetery and points out the gravestone of Mrs. Gibbs, Mrs. Soames, and Mr. Stimson. Emily's younger brother have all died. The Stage Manager explains how the dead don't stay interested in the living for very long. They become weaned away from life on earth. Soon we find out that Emily is about to join the dead. After revisiting her life Emily sadly realizes life goes so quickly, and people don't realize it. She wonders if humans ever realize the meaning of life while they actually live it. It is here we witness the most tragic event in Our Town, George's collapsing in front of Emily’s headstone, mourning his loss, their loss. And in the end? OUR TOWN serves up much more than a pleasant, greeting-card picture of old New England. Wilder’s soul-stirring play is one that illuminates both the nobility and the pain in the fleetingness of human life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    American playwriting at its best. I think the most stunning thing is that this book manages to convey a deep sense of human tragedy without portraying people who rabidly abuse each other. This is also why many hack directors (not to mention high schools) have been able to produce the work as a saccharine fairytale, and the bad reputation of this play can certainly be attributed to these careless people. But you, my dear critical thinker--you should read this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    DON'T READ THE FORWARD UNTIL AFTER YOU'VE READ THE STORY. "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? ---every, every minute?" First published in 1938, OUR TOWN is a play by Thornton Wilder that delivers a hauntingly REAL look at life....and death....and love. ACT I begins on May 7, 1901 in the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. It is a nice town with a nice mix of people. Some are gossips, some have addictions and others have little disagreements and problems like mos DON'T READ THE FORWARD UNTIL AFTER YOU'VE READ THE STORY. "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? ---every, every minute?" First published in 1938, OUR TOWN is a play by Thornton Wilder that delivers a hauntingly REAL look at life....and death....and love. ACT I begins on May 7, 1901 in the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. It is a nice town with a nice mix of people. Some are gossips, some have addictions and others have little disagreements and problems like most of the world as they go about their...dare I say...monotonous daily activities. At first I thought this play was a simple look at everyday life without much substance....and thought it a bit strange as I had never read a play where a stage manager narrates.ACT II jumps to 1904 with yet more ordinary days of breakfast making, milk and newspaper deliveries, children off to school and men off to work. We see young love in the making and attend a wedding. We hear questions like, " Do you think it's going to rain again?" Sound boring?.......well, ACT III....knocked my socks off. Nine years have gone by and now it's 1913. So much has occurred....as you will see. OUR TOWN is a "deadly cynical acidly accurate play." OUR TOWN prompted me to add a new shelf today....'re-read-annually'....and although there are many favorite books I can add, OUR TOWN is the story that made me think to add it.OUR TOWN is Haunting, Thought Provoking and Memorable....with a wonderful touch of Supernatural. (Even if you don't like plays, you may want to check this one out. It won't take long to read and worst case, will add another + to your 2019 totals.) RECOMMEND!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Thornton Wilder’s iconic depiction of life in an American small town circa 1920. Act One is centered around the mundane, everyday occurrences of life...getting breakfast with the family, doing homework, milk deliveries, newspaper boys tossing the daily read onto the doorstep. Act Two marks an important cornerstone of small town life--a wedding. And, Act Three brings all this living into focus in a poignant way. What makes reading this all the more moving, is that the way of life described has al Thornton Wilder’s iconic depiction of life in an American small town circa 1920. Act One is centered around the mundane, everyday occurrences of life...getting breakfast with the family, doing homework, milk deliveries, newspaper boys tossing the daily read onto the doorstep. Act Two marks an important cornerstone of small town life--a wedding. And, Act Three brings all this living into focus in a poignant way. What makes reading this all the more moving, is that the way of life described has almost vanished entirely from our world. I remember morning milk deliveries, but my younger sister, separated from me by only six years, would not. Along with the point Wilder is making about appreciating the life you have, he made an unintentional one about appreciating the “kind” of life you have. Deceptively simple; enduringly rich.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Occasionally a book comes along that makes me say, now this is why I read. Thornton Wilder was perfect when he wrote this and the result was perfection. "Our Town" struck every chord just right for me. I grew up near a small town on a farm and I recognized this town, and I recognized these people. Through the first two acts of this play I was loving it and thinking, this is the Americana that is fast disappearing, maybe already has. Then act 3 knocked Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Occasionally a book comes along that makes me say, now this is why I read. Thornton Wilder was perfect when he wrote this and the result was perfection. "Our Town" struck every chord just right for me. I grew up near a small town on a farm and I recognized this town, and I recognized these people. Through the first two acts of this play I was loving it and thinking, this is the Americana that is fast disappearing, maybe already has. Then act 3 knocked me flat. I admit, I shed a tear. What happened was unexpected, and the message that Wilder presented made me stop and think. It caused me to reflect on my life and the people in it. I don't give many five star ratings, but this book is special, at least for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I appreciate this play more and more every time I read it, and I have read it quite a bit! It has been written that Thornton Wilder found "the cosmic in the commonplace" in "Our Town", and that is indeed the case. This play is a celebration of the everyday and mundane details of human existence. And although we like to imagine that our lives are composed of things larger than the everyday exercise of living, we are wrong. There are exciting and "big" moments in most lives, but that is the rarer I appreciate this play more and more every time I read it, and I have read it quite a bit! It has been written that Thornton Wilder found "the cosmic in the commonplace" in "Our Town", and that is indeed the case. This play is a celebration of the everyday and mundane details of human existence. And although we like to imagine that our lives are composed of things larger than the everyday exercise of living, we are wrong. There are exciting and "big" moments in most lives, but that is the rarer action. Most of the time we are going about our little sphere doing much the same thing, with the same people; and Mr. Wilder wrote a play that reminds us that this is not at all a bad thing. The three acts of this play are structured in a manner that allows them to encompass the most salient features of human life: everyday living, love/marriage, and of course death. Much attention is usually paid to the third act of "Our Town" because it is here Wilder is at his most sentimental and also where he makes his point most obviously. And I don't say that to detract from the play. The third act is brilliant, and gets to me every time. However, the first two acts are subtle worlds of genius that yield even greater rewards as one goes back and rereads them at later intervals in life. Many critics have charged the play with being "sentimental" and I think it is, and I don't think this is a negative attribute at all. We should be sentimental about the things we love, and what a sad existence one has if they don't love life. The real punch from this piece though is not from its sentimentality, but rather from the fact that we realize that we don't do what Wilder is urging us to do, even though we know we should. Late in the play, the recently deceased Emily says "We don't have time to look at one another." If that was true in 1937, imagine how much more true it is now! And we know what she says is true, and we want to amend it, and for the most part...we don't. There is no greater tragedy then knowing the correct way to do something, and then finding that we don't do it. "Our Town" painfully reminds us of this fact of life. This play is worth reading, then reading again, and after another interval, reading again. Unlike many works of drama, it is a satisfying reading experience, regardless of whether or not you see it as a performed play. As one character says, "I can't look at everything hard enough". "Our Town" does its best to get us to look at the things around us, and to appreciate them. It is a lesson worth returning to over and over again in life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amber Tucker

    Okay, first of all – because people will criticize me for it, and rightly so – I have not seen this play. I fully appreciate that plays are written in order to be viewed on stage, not on page, and that people who judge a play after merely reading it are probably the bane of a playwright's life. That said, I feel that if there's any play that's could be "seen" just as well in the mind of the reader, it's Our Town.. From the setting to the plot to the characters' actions, the entire thing is almo Okay, first of all – because people will criticize me for it, and rightly so – I have not seen this play. I fully appreciate that plays are written in order to be viewed on stage, not on page, and that people who judge a play after merely reading it are probably the bane of a playwright's life. That said, I feel that if there's any play that's could be "seen" just as well in the mind of the reader, it's Our Town.. From the setting to the plot to the characters' actions, the entire thing is almost austerely minimalistic, in a way that doesn't require strenuous use of the imagination. Which I did enjoy about this reading/mental viewing experience, since I felt guilty about not having seen it. Another thing I liked in this play is the continual communication with the audience. The Stage Manager is, I guess, some metaphorical stand-in for an angel, able to appear among us without our recognizing it, to play different roles among us (i.e. the Mr. Morgan and the minister), and able to deliver a transcendental tones for the humans keen enough to hear him. That type of narrator must have been innovative for the play's time, and I like what Wilder did with that. The most impassioned response I could stir up at the ending, however, was a raised eyebrow. I feel Wilder started off with an intriguing set-up, and proceeded to careen downhill. He did exactly what any self-respecting reader was predicting he'd do. Yes, I should keep in mind that it was first produced and published in 1938. In context, I suppose the qualities of this play mean a lot more than they do today. But as to one critic's claim that he has "transmuted the simple events of human life into universal reverie," I simply fail to grasp any genuine artistic profundity here. He's trying, he really is; you can tell in many places. But I just don't think he pulls it off. Example: the ending references to the stars. "My boy Joel was a sailor, - knew 'em al. He'd set on the porch by evenings an' tell 'em all by name. Yes, sir - wonderful!" "A star's mighty good company." "Yes, yes 'tis." Sorry, but am I the only one who sees something that's trying to be Profound, and achieves only a scrabbling Pathetic? I appreciate that he's trying to show how life is art, or should be seen as art. The "live-every-moment-as-though-it-were-your-last" sort of message is obvious enough, and it's not lost on me; many of my favourite-ever works of literature, vis. art and theatre share the same "point." And in its overwhelming (or rather underwhelming) simplicity, the entire play in every aspect is a challenge to the viewer to remember that the simple moments deserve our full attention. At the same time, even with a killer cast, I have a hard time picturing this play as something to stay in the mind for more than an hour afterwards. I would like to watch it someday. Still, there's plenty that make me appreciate life-as-art a heck of a lot more than this American classic has done.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Goodbye, Grover’s Corners I saw a really terrible movie this weekend called "Stardust". I thought that it would be terrific since the cast is star-studded and mostly because it was based on a novel by the very clever Neil Gaiman (who I am a big fan of, Sandman, American Gods, Good Omens & the "Brakiri Day of the Dead" episode of Babylon 5 for fans in the know). But alas, the movie sucked (although Deniro was funny. Yarg!!). But the movie also stars Claire Daines who I used to be a big fan of in th Goodbye, Grover’s Corners I saw a really terrible movie this weekend called "Stardust". I thought that it would be terrific since the cast is star-studded and mostly because it was based on a novel by the very clever Neil Gaiman (who I am a big fan of, Sandman, American Gods, Good Omens & the "Brakiri Day of the Dead" episode of Babylon 5 for fans in the know). But alas, the movie sucked (although Deniro was funny. Yarg!!). But the movie also stars Claire Daines who I used to be a big fan of in the series My So Called Life. And then I got to remembering that the finale of that show was one of the best ever simply because it was not really meant to be the finale. But, that's how life is. The series ended with a telling of Thornton Wilder's play, Our Town. That the series ended like this just stunned me. It went like this if you care to know. Katimski : Oh, you can remember it like this: If you keep going downstage, you're going to fall _down_. Okay? Oh, oh, oh,and...could you........... stop acting? Please? Rayanne : What? Katimski : Stop acting. There's really no need for it. You see, Emily is dead. The life she had is over. That's a pretty big deal. I mean...oh, gee whiz, she is just now realizing how precious every moment of that life really was. And that she never really appreciated what she had. Just imagine...what that must feel like, Rayanne. [pause.:] Rayanne : [sadly:] I can't go on, it goes so fast, we don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on, and...we never noticed. Take me back. Back to the hill, to my grave. But first, wait! One last look. Goodbye. Goodbye, world. Goodbye, Grover's Corners. Momma and Poppa. Goodbye to clocks ticking. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every every minute? Abyssinia : No. Saints and poets, maybe they do so. Rayanne : I'm ready to go back. Angela : [crying, chin trembling:] Were you happy? Rayanne : [sadly:] No. I should have listened to you. But that's all human beings are. Just blind people. [Rayanne turns and walks away. Angela turns the other way and exits:] I remember seeing this play in high school and not thinking very much of it. I guess I was just too young to understand. But seeing this one axis-shifting scene, the climax of the play delivered in it's most seemingly natural context, that of a high school drama production, really made me change my mind. For some reason, after seeing Claire Daines in that movie, I was thinking over and over about that "Our Town" scene and lamenting that someone writing for television didn't have the wit or the where-with-all to try something so simple and wonderful like that again. But, was it the storyline of the series that made that one scene feel even more impacting, or did the scene from Wilder's play bring classic relevance to a silly teen-drama? Ah-ha. I went to the bookstore that night and I bought a copy of the play. In the introduction that very feeling is addressed, how many young people are introduced to this play when they are deficient in experience and short on attention. People tend to lump it into a Kapra or Rockwell kind of kitsch. At least, I fell into that trap. But now, reading it again closer to 40 makes me understand what a wonderful work of art that play really is. The introduction calls it a "great American play, perhaps THE great American play." And then the writer of the introduction goes on to explain how he experienced the play back in 1988 or '89 with Spalding Gray as the omniscient Stage Manager. Wow. Wow. Just wow!! After you've been blessed with a little perspective (read also age and experience), every single meaning in the play that went right over your head at 17 hits you right between the eyes AND STICKS...like the banana in Swimming to Cambodia. So, while I read the play I imagined Gray in that role and let Thornton Wilder take me to Grover's Corners for the mundane drama that is everyday life, for the metaphors that still resound today. And I loved it. I loved every character. Even the school teacher (didn't see that one coming, did you Dan?). I loved everything they did and everything they said. That a character can come in, be given all the aspirations and talents in the world then be destroyed by a few words from the Stage Manager dumbfounds me. How terrible, how casual, how like real life. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? No. The saints and poets, maybe. They do some. At the end of the Brakiri Day of the Dead episode written by Neil Gaiman, Mr. Morden says, "One does not go to the dead for wisdom". It seems that Thornton Wilder would disagree.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Khaled Sherif

    Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every.. every minute?

  12. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    Reading this play for the first time when I was in (then equivalent of) junior high was like discovering someone who had been reading my thoughts—or anyway could make sense of them. I remember going from ‘A-ha!’ to ‘Oh yes!’ all throughout until I got to the last act and Emily’s return to her family home on her 12th birthday. Then with tears streaming down my face I imagined myself saying the same words to my own mother, “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me,” and lat Reading this play for the first time when I was in (then equivalent of) junior high was like discovering someone who had been reading my thoughts—or anyway could make sense of them. I remember going from ‘A-ha!’ to ‘Oh yes!’ all throughout until I got to the last act and Emily’s return to her family home on her 12th birthday. Then with tears streaming down my face I imagined myself saying the same words to my own mother, “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me,” and later, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?” I knew the answer to that rhetorical question was no. Yet it gave me the empathy I needed to be compassionate with those around me as I was incapable of holding on to that beautiful realization about life for five minutes past closing the cover of the book. Why? Why did I need to keep coming back to this book (or its equivalent) to remember how precious every second of life is? Why is it so easy to forget and so hard to remember? Every thing in this play aches of simple joy, family togetherness, life shared and the elusiveness of tender love. Some might call it romantic or even simplistic I suppose. One reviewer here on GRs, said that Wilder was ‘trying to be Profound, and achieved only a scrabbling Pathetic.’ She focused solely on the stars at the end. Not many other reviewers agree with her, including me. I’ve lost track of how many times I have returned to Our Town. God willing there will be more. Emily’s words have haunted me from the first, and I pray they always do. Sweet sweet life, may I do better each day to treasure you as the Great Gift you are!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter Monn

    Loved it! My full review will be up on my booktube channel at http://YouTube.com/peterlikesbooks Loved it! My full review will be up on my booktube channel at http://YouTube.com/peterlikesbooks

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play. Our Town is a 1940 film adaptation of a play of the same name by Thornton Wilder starring William Holden, Martha Scott, Fay Bainter, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee and Frank Craven. It wa Description: Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play. Our Town is a 1940 film adaptation of a play of the same name by Thornton Wilder starring William Holden, Martha Scott, Fay Bainter, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee and Frank Craven. It was adapted by Harry Chandlee, Craven and Wilder. It was directed by Sam Wood. The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Scott, who repeated her stage role as Emily Webb, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Aaron Copland was nominated for Best Score. Watch here Our Town 2* The Bridge of San Luis Rey 5* The Ides of March

  15. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    Excellent. A pure joy to read. Now I would like to see it performed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    A timeless masterpiece!This is absolutely my favorite play. It is timeless and universal, pertaining to anyone, anywhere. The story takes place in a small town at the turn of the century, in 1901, and takes place over the course of about fourteen years. The story line is extremely simplistic, but allows the reader to focus on the deeper themes that author, Thorton Wilder, is able to display. The play has three acts that each represent daily life, love and marriage, and death. Living people are p A timeless masterpiece!This is absolutely my favorite play. It is timeless and universal, pertaining to anyone, anywhere. The story takes place in a small town at the turn of the century, in 1901, and takes place over the course of about fourteen years. The story line is extremely simplistic, but allows the reader to focus on the deeper themes that author, Thorton Wilder, is able to display. The play has three acts that each represent daily life, love and marriage, and death. Living people are portrayed as ignorant to life's small significances. The way that this is presented is touching, and had a huge impact on the way that I look at life. This play taught me to have a unique appreciation for life and its offerings. As I mentioned, its ideas are universal and very sentimental.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    It’s a regular little town in the US a hundred years ago. It’s an extraordinary little town in the US a hundred years ago. It’s very ordinariness makes it extraordinary. As is, Wilder hints, all life. To walk. To talk. To eat. To drink. And, perhaps most of all, sharing this amazing life with others. Read this play and you will remember to be alive. To everything.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Read this for my English class, very different play with a great message!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part IV Part I http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part II http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part III http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... The Troubles, continued (view spoiler)[ Casualties, continued (view spoiler)[ In memoriam, continued (view spoiler)[ Corporals killings 19 Mar 88 (2 killed by PIRA at funeral) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal... Lisburn van bombing 15 June 88 (6 British Army The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part IV Part I http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part II http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part III http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... The Troubles, continued (view spoiler)[ Casualties, continued (view spoiler)[ In memoriam, continued (view spoiler)[ Corporals killings 19 Mar 88 (2 killed by PIRA at funeral) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal... Lisburn van bombing 15 June 88 (6 British Army soldiers killed by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Lis... Ballygawley bus bombing 20 Aug 88 (8 British Army soldiers killed, 28 wounded by PIRA roadside bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballygaw... Deal barracks bombing 22 Sep 89 (11 British military bandsmen killed by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Dea... Attack on Derryard checkpoint 13 Dec 89 (2 British soldiers killed, 2 wounded by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_o... Proxy bomb attacks 24 Oct 90 (7 killed by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_bo... 1991 Cappagh killings 3 Mar 91 (4 killed by UVF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Cap... Glenanne barracks bombing 31 May 91 (3 killed, 14 wounded by large PIRA truck bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenanne... Coagh ambush 3 June 91 (3 PIRA killed by SAS) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coagh_am... Teebane bombing 17 Jan 92 (8 Protestants killed, 6 wounded by PIRA land mine) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teebane_... Sean Graham bookmakers' shooting 5 Feb 92 (5 Catholics killed, 3 wounded by UDA/UFF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Gra... Clonoe ambush 16 Feb 92 (4 PIRA killed, 2 wounded by British Army) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonoe_a... Attack on Cloghoge checkpoint 1 May 92 (1 soldier killed, 23 wounded by PIRA bomb attack) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_o... Warrington bomb attacks 20 Mar 93 (2 children killed, 56 people injured by PIRA bombs in Cheshire England) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warringt... Castlerock killings 25 Mar 93 (6 killed by UDA/UFF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castlero... Bishopsgate bombing 24 Apr 93 (1 killed, 30 injured by PIRA bomb in London) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_Bis... Shankill Road bombing 23 Oct 93 (10 killed by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shankill... Greysteel massacre 30 Oct 93 (8 killed, 12 wounded by UDA/UFF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greystee... 1994 Scotland RAF Chinook crash (29 Killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Sco... Loughinisland massacre 18 June 94 (6 Catholics killed, 5 wounded by UVF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loughini... London Docklands bombing 9 Feb 96 (2 killed by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Doc... Manchester bombing 15 June 96 (200+ injured, large part of the Manchester city center destroyed by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Man... Thiepval barracks bombing 7 Oct 96 (1 killed, 31 injured by PIRA bombs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiepval... Omagh massacre 15 Aug 98 (29 killed; 31 including two unborn babies; by RIRA bomb) (This is the most deadly single incident in all the Troubles, occurring after the Belfast Agreement.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omagh_bo... (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] Books about the Troubles (view spoiler)[ Warning! I am not an expert on this, in fact I have read none of the books mentioned in this section. Nevertheless, I respect other people’s opinions, and have come up with the following lists. The method of my madness was to first assemble titles of almost a hundred books, then narrow these down by looking at ratings (both on Goodreads and Amazon), reviews, and information in Wikipedia. Note that I ruled out any book that was published before the modern Troubles began in the late ‘60s. There are many books, both fiction and non-fiction, which deal with or are set in earlier periods of Irish history, particularly the era before and after the Irish War of Independence (1919-21) and the Irish Civil War (1922-23). These conflicts finally resulted in the division of Ireland into the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, a division which still exists in the present, and a division responsible for the modern Troubles era. The starting list of books was assembled from lists on Amazon, Goodreads, and Wikipedia, plus lists at the following sites: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/... and http://www.theworkersrepublic.com/bes... (The Goodreads list contained a lot of books that were disqualified because they were not concerned with the modern Troubles era.) Each of the Top 10 lists is ordered by year of publication. Links to Wiki articles on the book are given where they exist. Top 10 Non-fiction books on The Troubles Note that writing non-fiction about the Troubles is not the safest occupation in the world. 1973 War and an Irish Town, Eamonn Mccann 1987 Ten Men Dead, David Beresford 1995 Rebel Hearts , Kevin Toolis 1995 Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life , John Conroy 1997 Killing Rage , Eamonn Collins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_... ) Author was murdered in 1999 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eamonn_C... ) 1997 Fifty Dead Men Walking: The terrifying Story of a Secret Agent Inside the IRA , Martin McGartland. Author was abducted but escaped in 1991, was later shot six times at his home in 1999 but survived. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_M... ) 1999 Bandit Country: the IRA and South Armagh , Toby Harnden 1999 The Shankill Butchers , Martin Dillon (stay away if you have a weak stomach) Author received death threats from a number of groups, emigrated to the U.S.. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_D... ) 2006 Watching the Door , Kevin Myers 2010 Voices From the Grave , Ed Moloney Bonus Picks 1999 Lost Lives , David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton This book is not light reading. Library Journal describes it as “a 1600 page obituary”, and compares it to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The full title is Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles. It is an exhaustively researched book whose authors spent seven years examining and documenting each of the 3638 deaths that were directly caused by the Troubles in the years 1966 to 2000. For a good review, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2000/... 2012 A Political History of the Two Irelands , Brian M. Walker. Recommended to me by GR friend Gerard. Written by his favorite politics lecturer at Queen’s College. Special – Books on the IRA I’ve separated these out from the other non-fiction. Not only would they have taken up too much of the list, but some could have reputations as being biased towards one side or the other. Here, without comment, are four books, each of which is more of a general work on the IRA than any of the books in the Top 10 list. 1970 The IRA , Tim Pat Coogan (nine editions since first published) 1997 Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein , Peter Taylor 2002 A Secret History of the IRA , Ed Moloney (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Secret... ) 2003 Armed Struggle – The History of the IRA , Richard English Top 10 Fiction books on The Troubles 1975 Harry’s Game , Gerald Seymour 1983 Cal , Bernard MacLaverty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cal_(novel) ) 1988 Watchman , Ian Rankin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchman... ) 1994 House of Splendid Isolation , Edna O’Brien 1995 Divorcing Jack , Colin Bateman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorcin... ) 1996 Eureka Street , Robert McLiam Wilson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M... - this author article is mainly about the book) 1996 Drink With the Devil , “Jack Higgins” (“Sean Dillon”) 1999 The Bombmaker , Stephen Leather 1999 The Marching Season , Daniel Silva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marc... ) 2012 The Cold Cold Ground , Adrian McKinty Bonus Pick 1987 Patriot Games , Tom Clancy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_... ) This is a bonus pick because it is so much more famous than any of the other books on the list, that it seems to be in a category by itself. (hide spoiler)] Music of the Troubles (view spoiler)[ Just a couple selections, I don’t have a big collection of this music. The first song is by Nanci Griffith. It’s not really about the Troubles, but like Neville’s novel, the Troubles are the backstory to at least the first part of the song – where I first heard the words “Falls Road”. The song appeared on the album Dust Bowl Symphony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9lUG4... The next song is by a Canadian folk singer, Stan Rogers, who died tragically in 1983. I was introduced to this music by a co-worker a few years ago (of Irish descent by the way). This was one of his favorite songs on the posthumous album From Fresh Water. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwld86... There’s even a Wiki article on the song. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Rogers and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hous... Finally, the number 3 song (biggest pop hit) from a list at http://www.stylusmagazine.com/article... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM4vbl... … powerful (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] This last spoiler is again mainly for people not familiar with Belfast and Northern Ireland. It may help such readers get their geographical bearings in the novel. Locations in the novel (view spoiler)[ The two sections following contain maps showing locations mentioned in the novel. Belfast locations (view spoiler)[ The following map links have already been given, but are placed here again for convenience. http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/i... http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/i... Several roads mentioned throughout the novel are shown on the map below. The M2 & M3 (blue) are in the upper right hand corner. The road drawn in red between 1 and 6 is where the B38 begins being called Springfield Road, which continues (green) to the SW as the A55, and ends where the A55 becomes the Monagh By Pass. Shankill Road (B39, yellow) is above the red portion of Springfield. Falls Road (the A501, orange) starts where Divis Street ends, winds down to the Milltown Cemetery, then turns south (red) and ends at A55. Lisburn Road (A1, orange) begins at the lower end of the B23 (yellow - University Road, then Malone Road) and continues down to the A55, south of which it become Upper Lisburn Road. Ormeau Road (A24) is shown in green, cutting across the red rectangle and over the river. All of the roads mentioned here (even the M2 and M3) have their own articles in Wiki. By the way, whenever “lower” is used in describing a road in Belfast, it means lower in elevation, that is, closer to the harbor (and to the city center). So that end of the road will likely be “higher” on the map than the other end. larger view:https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-mY... Key 1. “ Fegan’s small terraced house on Calcutta Street” (chapter 1) (off the Springfield Road, p 51) I can’t find a Calcutta Street in Belfast, but there are a couple streets in the indicated area with Indian associations. 2. “… the elevated motorway behind, where the M3 became the M2. In front of them, the River Lagan flowed into Belfast Lough.” (chapter 2) The docks where Gerry gets rid of his first ghost. and 2A. “ The lights of the Odyssey complex shimmered across the water” (same) The Odyssey complex across the river from the dock area. 3. “ the City Airport, now named after the great George Best, the footballer who destroyed himself with alcohol.” (same) Sorry, the “3” got cut off from the map image. It should be just to the right of the upper right hand corner. 4. “ Lisburn Road Police Station” (chapter 4 - 26) 5. “ at his mother’s terraced house on Fallswater Parade … just off the lower end of the Falls Road” (chapter 8 - 45) There’s no Fallswater Parade on the maps I’ve seen, but there is a Fallswater Street (and Avenue) in the place indicated. 6. “… the apex between Springfield Road and the Falls, where his mother’s old house stood” (chapter 8 - 45) This is somewhat confusing. 5 and 6 seem to be different locations for his mother’s house. Either they should be at the same location, or else he’s implying that his mother lived in two different places. (marked on map) “ They came from all over Belfast: Andersonstown, Poleglass, Turf Lodge …” (chapter 8 - 45) (not marked on map) “ … and some from the Republican enclaves in the north of the city and the Lower Ormeau” (chapter 8 - 45) The Lower Ormeau is in South Belfast, the main Republican area of the Ormeau Road. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ormeau_R... 7. “ the Christian Brothers School” (chapter 8 - 47) There may be another such school, this one is about a mile and a half down Falls Road (across the A55) from 5 where Gerry presumably was raised. 8. “ Black Mountain loomed over the graveyard” (chapter 13 - 79) The graveyard referred to is certainly the Milltown Cemetery, the main Catholic cemetery in Belfast, just off the Falls Road (although it’s not named in the novel). I’ve drawn the outlines of the graveyard on the map. Black Mountain is also indicated near the top of the map. The red rectangle shown on the map is the area shown in the next map. This is fairly coincident with the Botanic ward of the city, and is centered on Queen’s University. larger view:https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VX... Key 9. “ They’d organized a flat in the Holylands … Palestine Street, Jerusalem Street, Damascus Street “ (chapter 14 - 90) 10. “ Queen’s University … at the bottom of the Malone Road ” (chapter 14 - 90) 11. “ a house on University Street, just off Botanic Avenue ” (chapter 14 - 90) 12. “ a flat off the Lisburn Road, on Eglantine Avenue ” (chapter 15 - 101) (marked on map) “ They walked in silence to the Malone Road, and turned north towards Queen’s University.” (chapter 19 - 119) 13. “ the city Hospital on the Lisburn Road ” (chapter 26 - 159) The Belfast Hills looming over the Milltown cemetery Belfast looking east from the Divis/Black Mountain trail, Samson and Goliath in the background (hide spoiler)] Other locations (view spoiler)[ This map shows the various locations outside Belfast that are mentioned in the novel. Some are more important than others in the story. Two counties of Ireland are shown, Louth and Monaghan, plus five of the six counties of Northern Ireland. The westernmost county, Fermanagh, is southwest of County Tyrone. Key A. “the bogs near Dungannon” (chapter 1) Dungannon is a medium sized town quite a ways west of Belfast. The body of one of Gerry’s victims was disposed of in the bogs. B. “The port town of Dundalk would be bypassed altogether, along with the Player’s Inn.” (chapter 3) Dundalk is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. It’s about 50 miles from both Belfast and Dublin. C. “a housing estate on the edge of Lurgan” (chapter 4) Lurgan is a town south-west of Belfast. D. “Armagh. There’s a car park by a chapel, opposite the council buildings.” (chapter 12) E. “across the border, to the forests and lakes around Castleblaney” (chapter 13) Castleblaney is north-west of Dundalk, in Ireland, near the border with Northern Ireland. F. “Portcarrick” (chapter 31 – 193-5), “up the Antrim coast” (p. 219). Portcarrick appears to be a fictional place. There is a Port Carrick, but it’s in Scotland. Portcarrick is described as where Gerry views “the North Atlantic meeting the Irish Sea”. G. “Twenty minutes took them to an industrial estate north-west of the city” (chapter 38 – 223) (H). “a few acres of land and a modest house that straddled the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, where Country Armagh became County Monaghan.” (chapter15 – 98) Bull O’Kane country. Actually the “H” should probably be on the Ireland side of the border? Can’t recall. (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sookie

    The characters are ordinary. The story is ordinary. The happenstances are ordinary. The life-love-marriage-death, is ordinary. The life of Grover Corners is ordinary. The setting is ordinary. But. But. But. Thronton Wilder snatches these mundane moments from our lives and puts them on his stage: raw, exposed and vulnerable for all to see. An ambition to change the way of life dances in the eyes of a young man, a young woman adores the moon and romanticizes a future, an elderly couple pass into quietness The characters are ordinary. The story is ordinary. The happenstances are ordinary. The life-love-marriage-death, is ordinary. The life of Grover Corners is ordinary. The setting is ordinary. But. But. But. Thronton Wilder snatches these mundane moments from our lives and puts them on his stage: raw, exposed and vulnerable for all to see. An ambition to change the way of life dances in the eyes of a young man, a young woman adores the moon and romanticizes a future, an elderly couple pass into quietness; the lines said by these people are all taken from pages of our own lives. The fascination of an unknown future, ignorance and careless about the time and longing that leads to an inevitable end. A slow, quiet and thoughtful rendition of everyday life that is universal in its representation.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    This story takes place in a small, New Hampshire town, like the one I was born in and lived in for a time, with it's "New England Yankee" values. As with the case with people everywhere, there's tragedy in this story, which is often over-looked; instead, as one reviewer below puts it, it's often staged as a saccharine fairy-tale. This has been reinforced by the 1940 film version, starring William Holden. But in Wilder's own "Some Suggestions for the Director,” he writes, “It is important to maint This story takes place in a small, New Hampshire town, like the one I was born in and lived in for a time, with it's "New England Yankee" values. As with the case with people everywhere, there's tragedy in this story, which is often over-looked; instead, as one reviewer below puts it, it's often staged as a saccharine fairy-tale. This has been reinforced by the 1940 film version, starring William Holden. But in Wilder's own "Some Suggestions for the Director,” he writes, “It is important to maintain a continual dryness of tone—the New England understatement of sentiment, of surprise, of tragedy.” Coming from a family of that ilk, I know exactly why that temperament creates significant problems and why Wilder might be mocking it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I have read this book too many times to count. It is amazingly ageless and speaks to each generation. I was priviledged to see Paul Newman open as the Stage Manager on opening night in Wesport,CT. I read quotes from it at my younger sister's funeral. I carries a lot of weight with me. Read the book before you ever see a high school production!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Brilliant allegory, but needs to be seen.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    It is perhaps silly to say that Our Town is underrated but that is how I feel. I found it unexpectedly profound. Setting the last act in a cemetery with the deceased people commentating was original and unexpected. It would be hard to dismiss Emily’s feelings in that last act. The characters in Our Town are simple small town folk with real aspirations and real problems, so it all seemed authentic. From the milkman to discussion about who was inheriting the farm I could relate. In my own town grow It is perhaps silly to say that Our Town is underrated but that is how I feel. I found it unexpectedly profound. Setting the last act in a cemetery with the deceased people commentating was original and unexpected. It would be hard to dismiss Emily’s feelings in that last act. The characters in Our Town are simple small town folk with real aspirations and real problems, so it all seemed authentic. From the milkman to discussion about who was inheriting the farm I could relate. In my own town growing up, we had a milkman deliver our milk and we discussed what to do with our farm when I was little so these little things really struck a chord and I came along seventy years after this play is set. There is a subtle genius operating on Wilder’s part here with the small town touches so that even with the muted drama, the story is tragic. Wilder’s approach differs from the over the top drama in say many of Tennessee Williams’ plays, a contemporary. Williams was born in 1911 when St Louis was the fourth largest city in the U.S. and Wilder was born in the sleepy academic town of Madison WI some fourteen years earlier. I think this can explain a lot about their different experiences and what they felt comfortable writing about. By the way, I like Tennessee Williams writing, even when the characters are throwing vases at one another. So if one doesn’t go in expecting Our Town to knock his or her socks off, it won’t disappoint. After reading the play, I watched the 1940 William Holden movie version. The footage and audio were quite bad so I can’t give it high marks, except for the stage manager played by Frank Craven who came across clearly and got the best lines. I also saw the play in high school. I only remember bits and pieces and was hardly at an age where I could reflect on anything. 4 1/2 stars. So glad I finally read it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    Our Town is a short powerful play by Thornton Wilder. It portrays our environment, lives, and death within the very few pages. The story is so vivid, it draws one into the town, and the lives of the characters. It is historical and philosophical. But what amazes me most is the realistic view of our lives that is encompassed. Emily symbolizes life, marriage, and death. In life, she is almost always with his friend and neighbor George Gibbs. Marriage comes to her without any training. She is force Our Town is a short powerful play by Thornton Wilder. It portrays our environment, lives, and death within the very few pages. The story is so vivid, it draws one into the town, and the lives of the characters. It is historical and philosophical. But what amazes me most is the realistic view of our lives that is encompassed. Emily symbolizes life, marriage, and death. In life, she is almost always with his friend and neighbor George Gibbs. Marriage comes to her without any training. She is forced to learn the heard way. Happiness and eternal happiness is what she desires. She hopes to be loved forever. However, she looses her life as well as the foetus during choldbirth. On the other hand, George believes he can love Emily forever. He doesn't entertain some of the superstions of his time. He seems to be a romanticist who thinks the best for everything. He isn't afraid of any challenges in his path. All in all the Town is has people from all background. It tell us that we can co-exist no matter our differences. Whether we are rich, educated, or ignorant, there is a purpose for us. Always we are reminded to live and be happy as it is only through life that we can be happy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diz

    I remember reading this back in high school, and at that time I thought this was one of the most boring things I ever read. However, in rereading this as an adult I discovered that there is something to appreciate in this play. The basic message of this play is that life is made up of a lot of mundane everyday activities, and that we often don't appreciate these experiences until it's too late. That's not really a message that can reach younger people who are chasing dreams and looking for adven I remember reading this back in high school, and at that time I thought this was one of the most boring things I ever read. However, in rereading this as an adult I discovered that there is something to appreciate in this play. The basic message of this play is that life is made up of a lot of mundane everyday activities, and that we often don't appreciate these experiences until it's too late. That's not really a message that can reach younger people who are chasing dreams and looking for adventure, but it is something that an older person with a family might understand. So, if you've only read this as a high school student, it might be a good idea to check it out again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bbrown

    Our Town feels like a play that could be elevated into something special with the right production, but just in terms of what Wilder wrote it isn't very good. To call it nuanced I think you have to grasp at thin straws, and to call it insightful I think you have to be satisfied with boring insights. What character of real depth is there in Our Town? What change does it push for beyond the platitude of "treasure every day?" What virtues does this play have, that are not better exemplified in play Our Town feels like a play that could be elevated into something special with the right production, but just in terms of what Wilder wrote it isn't very good. To call it nuanced I think you have to grasp at thin straws, and to call it insightful I think you have to be satisfied with boring insights. What character of real depth is there in Our Town? What change does it push for beyond the platitude of "treasure every day?" What virtues does this play have, that are not better exemplified in plays that predate it (Ibsen's A Doll's House) and plays that came after it (Miller's Death of a Salesman)? I've heard takes to the contrary, but make no mistake, Our Town is a piece of Americana, idealizing the small-town existence of ahistorical yesteryear and lamenting the changed lives that came later. One of the main characters, when deciding to stay in town, states "I guess new people aren't any better than old ones. I'll bet they almost never are. Emily . . . I feel that you're as good a friend as I've got. I don't need to go and meet the people in other towns." Now that character isn't depicted as the brightest bulb, but Our Town never depicts him regretting his decision to remain in isolation, to forego getting higher education in a nearby city, or to stay only among his own and not meet anyone new. Sure, the omniscient Stage Manager is quick to reveal the tragic fates of many characters, those that died in wars or through accidents, but these are not tragedies born of small-town life at the time, to temper the positive portrayal of the town, but tragic ends that frequently arise outside the confines of the town of Grover's Corner (a soldier dies in a war on foreign soil, a mother dies visiting her daughter in another city, a boy's appendix burst while on a field trip). There's no lamentation that, in a big city, Emily would have received medical attention that saved her from dying in childbirth. You could stage the play so that such a perspective was implicit, but such an implication is nowhere to be found in the play itself. Our Town does not depict small towns as utopias, but it does depict them as superior to what came after. When characters show discontent it is with change; change in circumstances, change in perspective, change with the world, not with their lot in the small town of Grover's Corner. There's nothing wrong with advocating small town life as superior to big city living (or the suburbs, or what have you), but hand-in-hand with that belief there's a certain level of saccharine sweetness and unquestioning belief of the superiority of the past that makes the play ring less true. It also contributes to the simple nature of the play, that doesn't seem to have anything of interest to say (more on that below). Again, what is the play trying to inspire in its audience beyond the uninteresting? The final act of Our Town, the subject matter of which is so predictable that the Stage Manager even lampshades it, is more sad and somber, but it accomplishes this by focusing on death and the idea of "people don't know what they've got till it's gone." It's not skillfully done. And what lesson is there to take from it, "live life to the fullest?" That's pretty much the definition of a trite message, true but boring. Wilder offers no insight into how to live life to the fullest, just that it's generally a good idea. The final section of the play, where Emily watches her own past life, has clear parallels to an audience viewing a play, but Emily finds the entire experience painful and not worth doing. There's no indication that Wilder was trying to tell his audience that the medium they were experiencing is ultimately not a worthwhile use of their time, or that he alternatively recognized the irony here. Having read some of Wilder's correspondence from when he was developing the play, I don't see any evidence that Wilder was sowing depth here that I somehow missed, instead I get the sense that he wasn't even aware of the tension between the (uninspired) lesson of the play and the play itself. Having finished the play I didn't find a single takeaway worth taking. The characters lack depth, with many you can reduce to a job or single trait, and none having real nuance. I don't give any points to having characters with only a flash of complexity, right before they walk down the aisle, that is never actually explored. Again, a production could make it interesting, but the play does not. The Stage Manager was a theatrical device with some novelty, but it added no new facets to the substance of the play that could not have been delivered by a narrator and a handful more bit parts. The language was fine, but nothing special. Some scenes (the high school romance scenes) seemed intentionally cliché, but without subversion, or doing anything else with their cliché nature. I expect many people have found and will find Our Town emotionally affecting, but to me this does not speak to whether it has anything interesting to say, or whether it's any good. As far as I can tell it has nothing interesting to say, and it's not very good. It has its virtues: it's easy to stage and it's palatable. Those just aren't virtues on which I place any significant value. A note on edition, just so you’re aware of some pros and cons: The Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition includes the play and a long section providing further information on the history and development of the play, but it has relatively little in the way of critical analysis of the play (either contemporaneous to its initial run or later on) and physically the book feels very cheap in terms of cover & paper quality.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erin Kelly

    Reread with my English I class. I played the Stage Manager in class and sobbed like a baby through the flashback scene. Need I say more? This is amazing and changes my perspective a little bit every time I read it. A book or play that can do that is truly something special. Seize the day!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maryam Rajee

    "Mother Gibbs, I never realized before how troubled and how ... how in dark live persons are."

  30. 4 out of 5

    The Celtic Rebel (Richard)

    I like most teens and young adults read Our Town as part of our school curriculum in either high school or college, or both. The first time I read it in high school I didn't really like it or get it. Then in college I had it as part of American Lit class, and that time it clicked for me. The play is about love, death and our fate, and despite those themes to me it is not as completely as dark as it sounds. The play has such a wonderful moral that teaches us that even the most mundane part of our I like most teens and young adults read Our Town as part of our school curriculum in either high school or college, or both. The first time I read it in high school I didn't really like it or get it. Then in college I had it as part of American Lit class, and that time it clicked for me. The play is about love, death and our fate, and despite those themes to me it is not as completely as dark as it sounds. The play has such a wonderful moral that teaches us that even the most mundane part of our lives are important; that each and every day of our life can be significant. It's a play about normal people living the average normal everyday life in the United States. It teaches us to embrace life and appreciate all of it. To me it is a play that can be appreciated by the young, but as with me I think you learn to appreciate it more as you grow older. It is a wonderful slice of life picture of life in small town America. The characters are so memorable, and the love between George and Emily is timeless. I've read the play several times since I first read it as a requirement, and have seen a few productions on the stage. I appreciate it more and more, and each time it has a profound influence on me. When I seem to forget it's message I go to the library and check it out again.

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