counter create hit 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater

Availability: Ready to download

Sarah Ruhl is a mother of three and one of America's best-known playwrights. She has written a stunningly original book of essays whose concerns range from the most minimal and personal subjects to the most encompassing matters of art and culture. The titles themselves speak to the volume's uniqueness: "On lice," "On sleeping in the theater," "On motherhood and stools (the Sarah Ruhl is a mother of three and one of America's best-known playwrights. She has written a stunningly original book of essays whose concerns range from the most minimal and personal subjects to the most encompassing matters of art and culture. The titles themselves speak to the volume's uniqueness: "On lice," "On sleeping in the theater," "On motherhood and stools (the furniture kind)," "Greek masks and Bell's palsy." 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write is a book in which chimpanzees, Chekhov, and child care are equally at home. A vibrant, provocative examination of the possibilities of the theater, it is also a map to a very particular artistic sensibility, and an unexpected guide for anyone who has chosen an artist's life.


Compare
Ads Banner

Sarah Ruhl is a mother of three and one of America's best-known playwrights. She has written a stunningly original book of essays whose concerns range from the most minimal and personal subjects to the most encompassing matters of art and culture. The titles themselves speak to the volume's uniqueness: "On lice," "On sleeping in the theater," "On motherhood and stools (the Sarah Ruhl is a mother of three and one of America's best-known playwrights. She has written a stunningly original book of essays whose concerns range from the most minimal and personal subjects to the most encompassing matters of art and culture. The titles themselves speak to the volume's uniqueness: "On lice," "On sleeping in the theater," "On motherhood and stools (the furniture kind)," "Greek masks and Bell's palsy." 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write is a book in which chimpanzees, Chekhov, and child care are equally at home. A vibrant, provocative examination of the possibilities of the theater, it is also a map to a very particular artistic sensibility, and an unexpected guide for anyone who has chosen an artist's life.

30 review for 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    I loved this book so much that it is hard to write about it. Also, so much of it spoke to me so deeply that I kept thinking of people in my life I should buy it for. And I'm tempted to buy my own copy (I borrowed it from the library) and to carry it around in my purse to pull out in moments requiring succor, laughter, or simply elegantly phrased insight. It's funny that right now I am also reading David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, which is such a ginormous tome and a self-conscious attempt to wri I loved this book so much that it is hard to write about it. Also, so much of it spoke to me so deeply that I kept thinking of people in my life I should buy it for. And I'm tempted to buy my own copy (I borrowed it from the library) and to carry it around in my purse to pull out in moments requiring succor, laughter, or simply elegantly phrased insight. It's funny that right now I am also reading David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, which is such a ginormous tome and a self-conscious attempt to write a Great Contemporary Novel (in spite of his wacky science fiction subplots and persistent and sometimes even scatological humor), and yet that novel has left me tired, feeling like much of it is a slog, while this slender volume of essays, as brief as they are, has uplifted me (and not in the conventional didactic or sentimental sense, though they are certainly teacherly, and they appealed to my emotions as well as my intelligence). The title's implication of rushed, scribbled cast-off thoughts gives the book a certain energy and iconoclasm, but each tiny essay is so beautifully crafted that it belies the suggestion that this book came from jottings in a notebook that never quite became fleshed out. These essays--on the theatre, on illusion and play, on the importance of teachers, on the desires of children--are perfect as they are, entire, like the umbrella that Ruhl argues onstage gives the impression of a whole cosmos above. This book left me wishing that I was close friends with its writer. She gave me much to think about regarding my own relationship to parenting, play, art, and writing. And there's even an essay in here on lice! (As a toddler parent, I know from lice.) Beautiful, funny, smart, serious and well-considered yet never self-serious. A special, eloquent book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Initially I thought Ruhl's concept was brilliant - but after a couple dozen of these I started wishing she had written fully formed essays instead of 1-2 page sketches. And after reading about 50 of these abbreviated essays they started to feel tedious.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This book was only three stars to me because it was not what I expected. However, if you are a theatre person, I have full confidence this will be a four or five star book to you. I read this book on a whim, and thought it would be a series of 100 thoughts on random things like, well, umbrellas and sword fights. While these objects were briefly commented upon in the beginning, the book was not about ordinary things as much as it was about the author's thoughts on how plays should be conducted and This book was only three stars to me because it was not what I expected. However, if you are a theatre person, I have full confidence this will be a four or five star book to you. I read this book on a whim, and thought it would be a series of 100 thoughts on random things like, well, umbrellas and sword fights. While these objects were briefly commented upon in the beginning, the book was not about ordinary things as much as it was about the author's thoughts on how plays should be conducted and the relationship between writing and motherhood. While I loved the short interjections about her children and meaningful musings on life, I was a bit bored by the other stuff-- the stuff about actors and audiences and writing styles and technicalities. That being said, I also did not see or read most of the plays she talked about (and I did not like Waiting for Godot), so another reader may have a completely different reaction. I liked the ending a lot, though. I turn to fiction as an escape from loneliness, and the idea that identity is fluid is nice, albeit limited. Although this book was not for me, I recommend that you give it a try. As the author's children pointed out, you can appreciate that something is beautiful even if you don't like it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adrianne Mathiowetz

    The cover and title would make you think this book is light, goofy fare. Whoever's job this was failed -- the essays may only be 1-3 pages in length, but the majority of them are dense philosophical treatises on playwriting and the world of theater, and deserve a place in the college classroom. On the one hand: I have never been curious enough about the playwriting process to warrant reading an entire book on it, and often throughout this book, I struggled to care about what Ruhl so passionately The cover and title would make you think this book is light, goofy fare. Whoever's job this was failed -- the essays may only be 1-3 pages in length, but the majority of them are dense philosophical treatises on playwriting and the world of theater, and deserve a place in the college classroom. On the one hand: I have never been curious enough about the playwriting process to warrant reading an entire book on it, and often throughout this book, I struggled to care about what Ruhl so passionately cares about. It even felt a little presumptuous at times: that I, a person who was drawn to a silly title and pencil-drawn cover, would want to carefully define the role and ethics of a dramaturg, or debate the implications of the stage set without a ceiling. On the other hand, many of her observations and connections, while gleaned from the playwriting process, hold true for creating art in all sorts of mediums. And Ruhl's ability to express something profound in a concise paragraph can be breathtaking. Her essay on writing and waiting may have just changed my life -- way more than The Shins ever could have. I need to get off this internet, I've forgotten how to grieve.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Sarah Ruhl writes in one of her essays here that she hates the words "whimsical" and "quirky" as they are used to describe works of art, especially works of art accomplished by women. They are dismissive words. Maybe even the word "funny" might be included in this list of words dismissive of women playwrights. Now, I have heard Ruhl does not read reviews of her work, but she must know these words are used to describe her plays, her world of ideas. And to call them quirky and whimsical and merely Sarah Ruhl writes in one of her essays here that she hates the words "whimsical" and "quirky" as they are used to describe works of art, especially works of art accomplished by women. They are dismissive words. Maybe even the word "funny" might be included in this list of words dismissive of women playwrights. Now, I have heard Ruhl does not read reviews of her work, but she must know these words are used to describe her plays, her world of ideas. And to call them quirky and whimsical and merely "funny" could well be dismissive of them. Same goes for these short essays (or since she admits she doesn't have time to write them, they are essays that want to be written…). Use the word delightful, amazing, insightful. Even strange, she might accept. Certainly original would describe her work in almost every sense. And I will call them essays, Short short essays. Pithy. Sometimes with punchlines. More along the lines of poems (Ruhl's province, where she started) than longer, more "developed" essays. But as the short short story captures the "essence" of a story, so does the short short essay here capture the idea of an essay, a reflection on or exploration of an issue. The essays are short, sometimes a word or sentence or paragraph or a page or couple pages long, and I heard they were written because she is a mother of three, and this is basically often the length of what she could write during this time when they were small. Ruhl had written many great plays already, and was suddenly going to have to slow down a bit to be a mother. And these essays, which are a kind of series of love letters to the theater, are also love letters about being a mother, and the book is dedicated to her own mother, Kathy, a Chicago actress… and it has lots of references to playwright mothers and stage mothers and one essay is about watching her own mother die on stage, using those memories to reflect on stage vs real life grief (which,as it turns out from research, she tells me) is physiologically no different!). I like short short stories (also called flash fiction), and prose poems. I have recently read the collected short short stories of Lydia Davis. I am reminded of the short stories of Raymond Carver, which he explained in an essay were the only form he could write when he had several small children and was at the laundromat or had an hour still awake after they all went to bed. As she writes, in her complete essay, "An Essay in Praise of Smallness": "I admire minimalism." [My essay in response, entitled, "An Essay in Praise of Sarah Ruhl's "An Essay in Praise of Smallness": I also admire minimalism. (But I worry, is my essay merely derivative?!)] Ruhl is delightful and straightforward, fantastical (in Eurydice it is raining in an elevator) and unique and insightful and inventive. She prizes honesty (i.e., she hates "the Chekhov" accent actors invent) and engagement but also likes play, invention, intuition, surprise. In "The Language of Clear Steps," she speaks against "clear steps" of motivation, (and elsewhere dislikes asking what characters "want" as motivation for stage actions). Maybe key to her work is a phrase in that essay: ". . . theater artists are meant to challenge the inexplicable." That's what I think of Ruhl's work, such is in some of my favorites of her plays, Clean House, Eurydice, Dead Man's Cell Phone." I had intended to read these essays slowly, over time as I was reading other things, but I ended up reading them all in one sitting. They are that good. But trust me, I will read them again. Full disclosure as a kind of bragging: Kathy Ruhl, the playwright's mom, is a dear friend of mine, who I have seen many times on the stage and with whom I have seen a few plays. I've met Sarah in the company of Kathy a few times, and I've been to the Piven Theater (where Sarah grew up in the theater, with Kathy) in Evanston several times. Those facts may have increased the delight I got out of these short essays, but I bet anyone who is a writer and theater person and mother and lover of good writing would like them a lot.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Tried before to write about why I love this book so much and so fiercely, but failed then as I will likely fail now. I don't know Ruhl's plays at all (though I've since picked up a few to read), and I am not a playwright, but her essays here are wide-ranging and wonderful. She writes about theater here, sure, but also about parenting, and sickness, and, hell, umbrellas, and about tons of minutely observed things that she opens out into a greater significance. Some of the essays are so short that Tried before to write about why I love this book so much and so fiercely, but failed then as I will likely fail now. I don't know Ruhl's plays at all (though I've since picked up a few to read), and I am not a playwright, but her essays here are wide-ranging and wonderful. She writes about theater here, sure, but also about parenting, and sickness, and, hell, umbrellas, and about tons of minutely observed things that she opens out into a greater significance. Some of the essays are so short that they have a koan-like inspirational clarity to them; others are longer and more directly about the stage—though as with every piece in this collection, Ruhl's writing more about art and life, and the way the latter is indispensable to the former. Here's a taste: Early on, in an essay about how life makes the creation of art difficult, she closes, "At the end of the day, writing has very little to do with writing and much to do with life. And life, by definition, is not an intrusion." Ain't that just spot on and wonderful? It is.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marina Sofia

    Loved it. It's a real mish-mash of the trivial and the profound, of the everyday and the extraordinary. Funny, sarcastic, winsome and bold. I felt like underlining nearly every page and will be returning to it, dipping in and re-reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lavinia

    Don't let the title get you. This book is first and foremost about theatre and everything connected to it. With a touch of parenting. And yeah, she mentions umbrellas and dogs at some point.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Finished: 03.07.2019 Genre: essays/musings Rating: B+ Conclusion: Officially only about 3 of the writings are 'real' essays. The rest are Sarah Ruhl's short musings about plays, playwrights motherhood and children. I'm not complaining....this was an excellent book to drag me out of my 'reading slump'. Stepping into Ruhl's thoughts through the pages of this book …widens my appreciation of her craft...playwrighting. Whether we choose to spend our time with literary prizewinning essays or ...this light ente Finished: 03.07.2019 Genre: essays/musings Rating: B+ Conclusion: Officially only about 3 of the writings are 'real' essays. The rest are Sarah Ruhl's short musings about plays, playwrights motherhood and children. I'm not complaining....this was an excellent book to drag me out of my 'reading slump'. Stepping into Ruhl's thoughts through the pages of this book …widens my appreciation of her craft...playwrighting. Whether we choose to spend our time with literary prizewinning essays or ...this light entertainment is irrelevant. The book was still a delight!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    It wasn't surprising to me when, halfway through this book, Sarah Ruhl mentioned she'd originally wanted to be a poet: each of these brief essays is like a poem itself. One of the things I love about reading poetry is the shock of recognizing yourself, feeling that the poet has said exactly what you would have, if you only had the words. There is plenty of that in these essays, along with a number of very smart observations about narrative, stagecraft, and child-rearing. Poetry mourns the loss o It wasn't surprising to me when, halfway through this book, Sarah Ruhl mentioned she'd originally wanted to be a poet: each of these brief essays is like a poem itself. One of the things I love about reading poetry is the shock of recognizing yourself, feeling that the poet has said exactly what you would have, if you only had the words. There is plenty of that in these essays, along with a number of very smart observations about narrative, stagecraft, and child-rearing. Poetry mourns the loss of her, but she is a credit to the theater.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I’m giving up on this about halfway through. I’m bored and can tell it will be just more of the same for the next 100+ pages. The title is a bit misleading, as has been noted elsewhere. Most of these very short pieces (I hesitate to call them essays) are about or connected in some way to the world of theater – playwriting, acting, audience/actor relationships or some other aspect of that field – which I have little experience with and too little interest in to become engaged. There are also a fe I’m giving up on this about halfway through. I’m bored and can tell it will be just more of the same for the next 100+ pages. The title is a bit misleading, as has been noted elsewhere. Most of these very short pieces (I hesitate to call them essays) are about or connected in some way to the world of theater – playwriting, acting, audience/actor relationships or some other aspect of that field – which I have little experience with and too little interest in to become engaged. There are also a few about toddlers, with the same limitations and results. These writings do not seem like essays to me. Most of them are under two pages, many are only two or three paragraphs, and are rather observations or opinions. I consider an essay something that takes an idea and develops it to a certain extent, looks at it from different angles, makes connections and perhaps, but not necessarily, conclusions. These were merely musings. Any attempts to connect these ruminations about theater to larger generalizations about art and life seemed to me to be too tenuous and simplistic to be convincing. Stylistically the writing is fine, and for other people, the subject matter might be more interesting. It just wasn’t for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    susie

    “But what if lightness is a philosophical choice to temper reality with strangesness, to temper the intellect with emotion, and to temper emotion with humor. Lightness is then a philsophical victory over heaviness. A reckoning with the humble and the small and the invisible.” p.36

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christine Prevas

    This remarkable, gorgeous love letter to life as a theatrical artist has cleansed from me the muddied ambivalence towards theater with which Kenyon's drama department left me after four Aristotelian years.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chiara

    I am so glad I read this. It was lovely, it made me think of things in so many different ways...it really feels like a book I'll come back to again and again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Downs

    What a delightful little collection. I'm happy I bought a hard copy, because I have a feeling I'll be flipping through this book, rereading it, and loaning my copy to friends for many years to come.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kales

    I have been a fan of Sarah Ruhl's plays since college. When I saw this collection of essays in the bookstore, it was an instant buy for me. I wanted to learn more about this playwright I admire so much and her life and her insights. I got all of that and more -- I feel like 100 essays was a lot and there was a lot of information and thought. However, I underlined and dogeared so many essays and fantastic lines. It made me laugh and think and I have quoted it several times over the last four days I have been a fan of Sarah Ruhl's plays since college. When I saw this collection of essays in the bookstore, it was an instant buy for me. I wanted to learn more about this playwright I admire so much and her life and her insights. I got all of that and more -- I feel like 100 essays was a lot and there was a lot of information and thought. However, I underlined and dogeared so many essays and fantastic lines. It made me laugh and think and I have quoted it several times over the last four days. I look forward to looking over these essays and inspiring lines again and again. Conclusion: Keep

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Misch

    I've never read any of Sarah Ruhl's plays, but this essay collection has me intrigued. This book makes me think she would be a very interesting person to meet and have a conversation with. She sees things in such a nuanced way, and I appreciate her insight. Here's one of the passages that stood out to me: "A suspicion that lightness is not deeply serious (but instead whimsical) pervades aesthetic discourse, But what if lightness is a philosophical choice to temper reality with strangeness, to te I've never read any of Sarah Ruhl's plays, but this essay collection has me intrigued. This book makes me think she would be a very interesting person to meet and have a conversation with. She sees things in such a nuanced way, and I appreciate her insight. Here's one of the passages that stood out to me: "A suspicion that lightness is not deeply serious (but instead whimsical) pervades aesthetic discourse, But what if lightness is a philosophical choice to temper reality with strangeness, to temper intellect with emotion, and to temper emotion with humor. Lightness is then a philosophical victory over heaviness. A reckoning with the humble and the same and the invisible."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leah Heath

    I liked some of these essays, and some of them were meh. It's a really small book though if your looking for a quick read. I liked all of the ones where she mentions her family. Those essays always had suprising little thoughts. Like just because you think everyone wants something materialistic doesn't make it true. This book is also by a playwright about (mostly) plays. Some topics I found interesting some not so much. I think I just like references I understand though and when I don't know who I liked some of these essays, and some of them were meh. It's a really small book though if your looking for a quick read. I liked all of the ones where she mentions her family. Those essays always had suprising little thoughts. Like just because you think everyone wants something materialistic doesn't make it true. This book is also by a playwright about (mostly) plays. Some topics I found interesting some not so much. I think I just like references I understand though and when I don't know who or what someone is referring to I read it but it won't stick with me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Blair Macmillan

    Ruhl approaches musings on theatre, performance, and creation through an innately human lens. Reading this book, I was reminded of how often we shy away from reflecting life in our work, preferring to build castles and watch from afar, choosing instead to forgo the impulses at the root of play. Some ideas simply felt outdated- or perhaps just out of my reach generationally- but nevertheless, the book felt present and current. I'm also a personal fan of the one page essay, makes me feel speedy an Ruhl approaches musings on theatre, performance, and creation through an innately human lens. Reading this book, I was reminded of how often we shy away from reflecting life in our work, preferring to build castles and watch from afar, choosing instead to forgo the impulses at the root of play. Some ideas simply felt outdated- or perhaps just out of my reach generationally- but nevertheless, the book felt present and current. I'm also a personal fan of the one page essay, makes me feel speedy and keeps my goldfish attention span in check.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Waldron

    I love this little book--it's like one of those tomes you find in high school or college and keep close to you, imagining it was written just for you; you secretly keep opening the covers to dip into it for just one more dollop of delicious, perfectly confected wisdom...if you've ever loved theatre or writing or being a woman, a mother, a human, if you've ever loved letting your thoughts simply roam, and the wonderful surprises that emerge from the miracle that is your mind, this is for you...

  21. 5 out of 5

    M.A. Reads

    This book is definitely written for theatre nerds (and parents, I guess). It's a bit inside baseball at times, but still a wonderful and poignant look at the art of theatre and the art of parenting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex White

    I can't explain why this book is so magical! I can only say it is, and hope you think so, too.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    What a joy to get to live inside Sarah Ruhl's brain for 215 pages!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    I enjoyed the essays on the author's real life - these were far more relatable for me. Several were over my head but seemed likely to appeal to more theatre-minded people!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Keith Moser

    Read this as part of my 2017 Reading for Growth Challenge. I had almost purchased it last year after seeing in on the shelf at NYC's Drama Book Shop. I've wanted to read more of Sarah Ruhl's plays (The Clean House is the only one I've read so far) and the title caught my eye, but for some reason (probably the other 6 books I bought that day) I didn't pick it up. When I saw "essay collection" on this year's challenge, I knew what to buy and read! It's probably more of a 4.5* book, but I rounded up Read this as part of my 2017 Reading for Growth Challenge. I had almost purchased it last year after seeing in on the shelf at NYC's Drama Book Shop. I've wanted to read more of Sarah Ruhl's plays (The Clean House is the only one I've read so far) and the title caught my eye, but for some reason (probably the other 6 books I bought that day) I didn't pick it up. When I saw "essay collection" on this year's challenge, I knew what to buy and read! It's probably more of a 4.5* book, but I rounded up because why not? Ruhl has this wonderful way of writing her essays that makes you feel very close to her. I knew nothing about her (besides a few of her plays) but after reading this collection I feel like calling her up next time I'm in NYC to see if she wants to get coffee and talk theatre. The essays range in size from one sentence to several pages (they probably average around a page and a half). The general conceit is, as a mother of three she has very little time to sit down and write so this book collects a lot of her ideas that could possibly be longer dissertations if time weren't at such a premium. Her writing is concise and smart and funny. The topics she writes about range from using storms on stage to creating neologisms; from comparing the standard theatrical structure to the male orgasm to wondering why so many excellent playwrights get "promoted" to other genres (e.g. screenwriting or TV). Most of the essays revolve around playwriting and the theatre, so it's not too surprising I enjoyed it. What did surprise me was the sudden urge I felt to write a play of my own. I've never thought of myself as much of a writer. Stand-up comedy, sketches, novels—all feel too difficult for me to do with any sort of regularity (where does one come up with the "idea" for a joke, a sketch, a book?). But while reading 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write part of me wanted to create a play where a sudden gust of wind affected the plot; where a rhyming epilogue put verse back into theatre; where I refuse to write "End of Play" on the last page and instead just use "The End." But beyond a few things that came across me I still don't have an idea (or the time) to write anything. Plus I'm way behind in my yearly challenge...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gochrisgo

    Fresh and parent friendly (very short!) essays about non-musical theater, parenting and life. I’m very interested in how much emotional impact can be pulled from two pages or less. My favorite piece is the one about the velvet covered stool.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    (3.0) Already forgotten most of this, a lot about being a playwright, not so much about being parent But some of the good stuff: On melting your heart: "I have an umbrella with a picture of the sky inside. My daughter Anna said, when she was three and underneath it, 'We have two skies, the umbrella sky and the real sky.' When I went out with her in the rain recently without an umbrella, she said, 'It's all right, Mama. I will be your umbrella.' And she put her arms over my head." On plays (and art): (3.0) Already forgotten most of this, a lot about being a playwright, not so much about being parent But some of the good stuff: On melting your heart: "I have an umbrella with a picture of the sky inside. My daughter Anna said, when she was three and underneath it, 'We have two skies, the umbrella sky and the real sky.' When I went out with her in the rain recently without an umbrella, she said, 'It's all right, Mama. I will be your umbrella.' And she put her arms over my head." On plays (and art): "I would be interested in seeing a short series of plays, all called "Untitled." So that the eye might be redirected and the play might become ever more interior and private, with no recourse to a title that might restric meaning. Titles by their nature imply that the play's architecture is like a bull's-eye (and some are) with the point being in the center. Sometimes the point is in the margins, or in the experience of throwing the dart." Yeah, though I don't think I have a better experience in modern art museum when I see a piece that's Untitled # 29. :/ "It used to be in Shakespeare's time that nobodies, actors, would play royalty, somebodies. Now there is no royalty in our culture but for actor-celebrities themselves. So now the actors are somebodies in real life while on stage they pretend to be nobodies. And we no longer write about royalty on stage; we write about the common man. "What does that do to mimesis or to the sense that we are seeing something important on stage? When a nobody pretends to be a somebody, the transformation is magical. But when a somebody pretends to be a nobody, are we just watching for a glimmer of the somebody inside the nobody?" Interesting. Note: mimesis/mimetic is her pet word. Love the semicolon use: take that editors! "Recently, my son said to me after seeing a ballet on television: "It's beautiful but I don't like it." And I thought, Are many grown-ups capable of such a distinction? It's beautiful, but I don't like it. Usually, our grown-up thinking is more along the lines of: I don't like it, so it's not beautiful. What would it mean to separate those two impressions for art making and for art criticism? Also: she named her children after the streets at the intersection at which she met her husband. Shrug.

  28. 4 out of 5

    India Braver

    The essays are short. Really short. I feel as if they could be so much more interesting if they were longer, and perhaps arranged in a more meaningful order- the order seems arbitrary, which is fine, but coupled with the shortness, it is hard to extract any meaningful impact from this collection. I would start an essay and then almost immediately finish it due to its brevity and then move on to the next because I wanted more- but it's thus really hard to properly digest any of the essays because The essays are short. Really short. I feel as if they could be so much more interesting if they were longer, and perhaps arranged in a more meaningful order- the order seems arbitrary, which is fine, but coupled with the shortness, it is hard to extract any meaningful impact from this collection. I would start an essay and then almost immediately finish it due to its brevity and then move on to the next because I wanted more- but it's thus really hard to properly digest any of the essays because a point is made too quickly, and even the points themselves might be good, I wish they were impacted out more so I understood that the points were actually important/at least worth registering in my brain. Although I read each essay and liked a bunch of them while reading, very few stood out five minutes or even five seconds later. Also, the title of the book doesn't suggest this as much as it should: most of the essays are about theater, so if you find that interesting, you'll enjoy this collection more. There are also some very personal stories about illness, and these struck me as unsettling at first. If you really want to enjoy this book, read only one or two essays at a time and take time to think about them before moving on. Because a lot of the points here are really interesting, when you take the time to actually consider them - something the structure of this book seems to unfortunately discourage. Not every point is interesting - some just seem pretentious and pointless, but others are cool to think about as long as you're open minded. I do think you will enjoy this a lot more if you have an interest in theater or the history of theater or if you're an English major.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Minicucci

    Sarah Ruhl's plays are some of my very favorite, and I was excited to dig into this book. On the surface, the book seems to underplay its seriousness and significance with the shorter form and the "commonplace book" feel of the cover. But Ruhl uses that shorter form, tied together with considerations of motherhood and its sparse time, as a lens for all sorts of considerations of craft. The first section, on playwriting, was especially striking to me. Ruhl, as she is in her plays, is a master of Sarah Ruhl's plays are some of my very favorite, and I was excited to dig into this book. On the surface, the book seems to underplay its seriousness and significance with the shorter form and the "commonplace book" feel of the cover. But Ruhl uses that shorter form, tied together with considerations of motherhood and its sparse time, as a lens for all sorts of considerations of craft. The first section, on playwriting, was especially striking to me. Ruhl, as she is in her plays, is a master of the small moment and the meaningful sliver. So many of these tiny essays stick with me, especially those considering the relationship between herself and Paula Vogel. Her essay on Vogel and if playwriting can be taught might be my favorite thing I've read all year. This is a rare book that looks at art & motherhood and makes equal demands of both. There is brutal honesty and beautiful thinking in it, and I found myself unable to put it down for the all-of-a-week that I've owned it. If you're a writer, or a mother, or a writer who is a mother, or a writer that has a mother, or a mother that has a mother, or a son who remembers his mother acting when he was a boy too...if you're any of those things or any number of other things, I imagine you'll love this book as much as I did.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Ruhl writes with a lovely attention to cadence and vocabulary that I really enjoy. Her writing is passionate and her ability to distill moments into profound ideas with clarity and ease is just fantastic. She asks simple, engaging questions, wanders into fascinating anecdotes, and then reveals delicious insights that tie the questions, anecdotes, and big ideas all together in a sparkling, gorgeous package. I most enjoyed the first sections that focused on general aesthetics and Ruhl's experiences Ruhl writes with a lovely attention to cadence and vocabulary that I really enjoy. Her writing is passionate and her ability to distill moments into profound ideas with clarity and ease is just fantastic. She asks simple, engaging questions, wanders into fascinating anecdotes, and then reveals delicious insights that tie the questions, anecdotes, and big ideas all together in a sparkling, gorgeous package. I most enjoyed the first sections that focused on general aesthetics and Ruhl's experiences as an artist who is also a mother. When she dipped into situations that were specific to playwrights working in Broadway or LORT theatres, I lost a bit of interest as these don't apply as readily to me, and are ideas that have been discussed at length elsewhere (such as new plays being 'fixed' to death and the problems inherent in the standard rehearsal schedule). That said, while I'm a theatre artist myself, I think Ruhl's writing and ideas have universal appeal to all artistic souls. This is an engaging, beautiful read by an artist who is passionate and thoughtful about her work.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.