A witty trip through a unique life in the theater.


Reminiscences by one of the pioneers of American avant-garde theater.

Few artists’ lives have been as colorful as that of Gregory. Born in Paris in 1934 to Russian Jewish parents, he lived a privileged life of “private clubs, private schools, debutante balls” once the family left wartime Europe for New York. They spent summers in a California house Thomas Mann rented to them, where they socialized with celebrities like Errol Flynn, with whom his mother had an affair. He discovered a passion for acting when he attended a New York private school “established to train repressed, polite, withdrawn little WASPs.” Much of this book, co-written by London (An Ideal Theater: Founding Visions for a New American Art, 2013, etc.), is a series of vignettes, some more entertaining than others, about Gregory’s artistic and spiritual journey: stage manager jobs at regional theaters, lessons at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio, pilgrimages to ashrams in India, and outrageous flourishes in the plays he directed, such as a production of Max Frisch’s Firebugs that featured an actual fire engine onstage and scenes from Hiroshima projected onto a trampoline—a gig that got him fired. The narrative is filled with anecdotes about such luminaries as fellow director Jerzy Grotowski, who had a profound influence on Gregory’s work, and Gregory Peck, who “slugged” him during an argument during the filming of Tartuffe. The highlight for many readers will likely be details of his long collaboration—“forty-five years and only one fight”—with Wallace Shawn and the making of their art-house hit My Dinner With André. These sections chronicle the duo’s struggles to make the picture, from Gregory’s memorizing hundreds of pages of dialogue for “the longest speaking role in the history of film” to his wearing long johns during the shoot because they couldn’t afford to heat the hotel where the restaurant scenes were staged.

A witty trip through a unique life in the theater.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-29854-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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