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David Mamet

Author of Glengarry Glen Ross: A Play

203+ Works 9,906 Members 166 Reviews 20 Favorited

About the Author

David Mamet, November 30, 1947 - David Mamet was born on November 30, 1947 in Flossmoor, Illinois. He attended Goddard College in Vermont and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York. He began his career as an actor and a director, but soon turned to playwriting. He won acclaim in show more 1976 with three Off-Broadway plays, "The Duck Variations," "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and "American Buffalo." His work became known for it's strong male characters and the description of the decline of morality in the world. In 1984, Mamet received the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for his play, "Glengarry Glen Ross." In 1981, before he received the Pulitzer, Mamet tried his hand at screenwriting. he started by adapting "The Postman Always Rings Twice," and then adapting his own "Glengarry Glen Ross" as well as writing "The Untouchables" and Wag the Dog." He also taught at Goddard College, Yale Drama School and New York University. Mamet won the Jefferson Award in 1974, the Obie Award in 1976 and 1983, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1977 and 1984, the Outer Circle Award in 1978, the Society of West End Theater Award in 1983, The Pulitzer Prize in 1984, The Dramatists Guild Hall-Warriner Award in 1984, and American Academy Award in 1986 and a Tony Award in 1987. He is considered to be one of the greatest artists in his field. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Brigitte Lacombe

Works by David Mamet

Glengarry Glen Ross: A Play (1984) 1,048 copies
Oleanna (1992) 773 copies
American Buffalo (1975) 498 copies
On Directing Film (1991) 447 copies
The Untouchables [1987 film] (1987) — Screenwriter — 341 copies
Writing in Restaurants (1986) 308 copies
Speed-the-Plow (1988) 291 copies
Chicago: A Novel (2018) 190 copies
The Old Religion (1997) 170 copies
The Village: A Novel (1994) 147 copies
A Life in the Theatre (1977) 145 copies
Glengarry Glen Ross [1992 film] (1992) — Screenwriter — 141 copies
The Cryptogram (1995) 138 copies
Boston Marriage (2001) 118 copies
House of Games [1987 film] (1987) 108 copies
The Edge [1997 film] (1997) — Screenwriter — 100 copies
Some Freaks (1989) 99 copies
House of Games (1987) 98 copies
Edmond (1982) 84 copies
The Verdict [1982 film] (1982) — Screenwriter — 76 copies
Romance (2005) 76 copies
Faustus (2004) 69 copies
Heist [2001 film] (2001) — Director/Screenwriter — 67 copies
The Old Neighborhood (1998) 63 copies
Woods, Lakeboat, Edmond (1987) 62 copies
November (2008) 60 copies
Passover (1995) 60 copies
Spartan (2004) — Director; Screenwriter — 55 copies
Theatre (2010) 54 copies
Bar Mitzvah (1998) 52 copies
Race (2010) 51 copies
The Postman Always Rings Twice [1981 film] (1981) — Screenwriter — 38 copies
The Spanish Prisoner [film] (1998) 35 copies
Reunion and Dark Pony (1979) 35 copies
Hoffa [1992 film] (1992) — Screenwriter — 33 copies
Things Change (1989) 32 copies
The Shield: The Complete Third Season (2008) — Director — 32 copies
Plays 3 (1996) 32 copies
The Woods: A Drama (1979) 29 copies
Redbelt (2008) 28 copies
The Unit: Season 3 (2014) 27 copies
Short Plays and Monologues (1650) 26 copies
Theatre (1937) 25 copies
Three War Stories (2013) 23 copies
The Voysey Inheritance (2005) 23 copies
Death Defying Acts (1996) 23 copies
The Chinaman (1999) 22 copies
The Water Engine (1978) 19 copies
Lakeboat (1980) 18 copies
The Winslow Boy [1999 film] (1999) 18 copies
The Anarchist (2013) 17 copies
The Unit: Season 4 (2014) 17 copies
Three children's plays (1986) 16 copies
Homicide: A Screenplay (1992) 15 copies
Henrietta (1786) 15 copies
The Duck and the Goat (1996) 14 copies
China Doll (2015) 13 copies
The Hero Pony: Poems (1990) 13 copies
Homicide [1991 film] (1991) — Director — 13 copies
David Mamet: Plays Four (2002) 13 copies
Orchards (1987) — Author — 12 copies
The Handle and the Hold (2013) 11 copies
Keep Your Pantheon (2009) 11 copies
The frog prince: A play (1983) 10 copies
Edmond [2005 film] (2005) — Writer — 10 copies
The Penitent (2017) 10 copies
The Shawl (1985) 9 copies
Warm and Cold (1988) 8 copies
Three Jewish plays (1987) 6 copies
Squirrels: A Play (1982) 6 copies
The Duck Variations (1988) 6 copies
The Verdict: A Screenplay (1981) 4 copies
Yes But So What 4 copies
Plays 5 (2015) 4 copies
Manifiesto (2011) 4 copies
Phil Spector 2 copies
Teatteri (2013) 2 copies
Oleanna [1994 film] (2003) — Director — 2 copies
Epilogue 2 copies
Vermont 2 copies
Mr. Happiness 2 copies
Cross Patch 2 copies
Two Scenes 2 copies
Dowsing 2 copies
Deer Dogs 2 copies
Maple Sugaring 2 copies
Morris and Joe 2 copies
The Dog 2 copies
Film Crew 2 copies
Four A.M. 2 copies
In the Mall 2 copies
Food 2 copies
Businessmen 2 copies
Columbus Avenue 2 copies
Shoeshine 2 copies
A Sermon 2 copies
Cold 2 copies
In Old Vermont 2 copies
Steve McQueen 2 copies
The Hat 2 copies
Doctor 2 copies
Monologue 1 copy
Almost Done 1 copy
Vrai et faux (2010) 1 copy
Secret Names 1 copy
Dark Pony 1 copy
Reunion 1 copy
Bradford 1 copy
6 Action Movies [DVD] — Director — 1 copy
On Acting (1999) 1 copy
School (2010) 1 copy
Jolly 1 copy
Dodge 1 copy
David Mamet shorts (2010) 1 copy
Fish 1 copy
Strays (2004) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Cherry Orchard (1904) — Adapter, some editions; Introduction, some editions — 1,966 copies
Uncle Vanya (1897) — Adapter, some editions — 905 copies
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 (2004) — Contributor — 739 copies
A Practical Handbook for the Actor (1986) — Introduction — 423 copies
Ronin [1998 film] (1998) — Screenwriter — 238 copies
Bad Trips (1991) — Contributor — 231 copies
The Best American Poetry 1999 (1999) — Contributor — 208 copies
Nine Plays of the Modern Theater (1981) — Contributor — 178 copies
Take Ten: New 10-Minute Plays (1997) — Contributor — 164 copies
Granta 55: Children (1996) — Contributor — 128 copies
Granta 16: Science (1985) — Contributor — 81 copies
Moving Parts: Monologues from Contemporary Plays (1992) — Contributor — 56 copies
The Jewish Writer (1998) — Contributor — 50 copies
The Best American Political Writing 2008 (2008) — Contributor — 36 copies
Vanya on 42nd Street [1994 film] (1995) — Original play — 30 copies
That's a Wrap: How Movies Are Made (1991) — Foreword — 26 copies
The Obie Winners: The Best of Off-Broadway (1980) — Contributor — 25 copies
American Buffalo [1996 film] (1996) — Author — 23 copies
Best American Plays: 8th Series, 1974-1982 (1983) — Contributor — 19 copies
We're No Angels [1989 film] (1989) — Screenwriter — 16 copies
Best American Plays: Ninth Series, 1983-1992 (1993) — Contributor — 15 copies
Playboy Magazine ~ April 1990 (Deborah Driggs) (1990) — Contributor — 2 copies


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Common Knowledge



This is the first David Mamet novel that I've read. Chicago tells a 1920s story about gun-running, the Italian South-side Outfit, the Irish North-siders, a flower-shop girl, a black madame, a singer passing in the speaks, and two Chicago Tribune reporters still dealing with the Great War while happily avoiding the Volstead Act's intended consequences.

The main issue here is that we are more than 100 pages in until the actual plot of the novel begins to truly unfold. Neither the characters nor the dialogue are enough to really compel the reader forward to that point--unless one is just interested in the scene. As a person who loves history and Chicago the city, I had no major issues doing that, but I imagine others could be annoyed.

Also, this is neither a thriller nor a true mystery (the solution isn't strictly possible until the end, when the protagonist knows and the narration simply reveals it as a fait accompli). As such, it's hard to figure the genre of this novel and that may be disappointing some of the readers who came expecting X and ended up with Y.

But, if you like 1920s Chicago, David Mamet style conversations, and a wide cast of Chicago's demi-monde, then you will enjoy (though probably not overly so) this book.
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JohnLocke84 | 10 other reviews | Oct 12, 2023 |
First off, reading this book is like reading someone's private journal; the thoughts are broken up, there are incongruous jumps between what are laid out as sections of the same chapter; ideas are just thrown out with minimal or no argument or development. Not what one is looking for in an argumentative or persuasive book. On the other hand, if you want to get a peek inside Mamet's head, this is for you.

Okay, now on to the review of the content.

He comes right out and identifies himself in the first three pages: a Liberal who, in late mid-life, discovered that life is made of trade-offs and therefore became a conservative. Immediately, for me, the alarms are going off: here is a guy who claims that only in his 50's or 60's did it occurred to him that, “surprise!” life is made of trade-offs and we can't have everything; by extension, we're left to believe that as a “Liberal” he must have believed was that there were no trade-offs and we could indeed have everything.

Next follow a slew of “musings with titles” that we are to take, apparently, as chapters or essays. He fills this with many curious assertions that will sound familiar if you've listened to Fox or Limbaugh.
1. “Liberals hate capitalism.” Full stop.
2. A running screed, spread across a few of his titled musings, that can be summed up as, “Young Liberals suck. Liberal Arts degrees suck. FILM SCHOOLS SUCK.” (He really, really, really does not like film schools.)
3. In particular, “Young Liberals” (he capitalizes that repeatedly) have been, and are now, ruining our country because they hate (economic) freedom, America (-ness..?), and Israel. He softens this here and there by downgrading, “hate freedom,” to something along the lines of, “liberals want the same things conservatives want, but are just hopelessly confused about how to get them.”

Who precisely are these people he hates/pities/dismisses? Apparently they are uneducated and lazy, naïve and clueless, busy doing their yoga, getting their houses feng shui'd, and standing around watching their immigrant gardeners sweat under the Sun while moaning about how it is so unfair they don't get paid more, while faithfully recycling their cans and bottles in a desperate attempt to fill the void left by their rejection of responsibility/authority/God. This is not hyperbole (on my part). Mamet actually writes this.

Do these people even exist? What “Young” person owns a house, complete with gardeners and interior decorators, while going to school and being unemployed and, presumable, otherwise living a life of dissipation? Perhaps in David Mamet's world, this is a reality; but in that case he is not impugning liberalism or Liberalism, but some Mamet construction that simply shares the name Liberalism. Perhaps in the circles he runs in, this is happening (*cough* *cough* looking at the Mamet kids and their friends.) But not anywhere I've been.

In any case, these 20 and 30-somethings have been exerting their terrible power by... actually, that is also not clear. They way he describes them they would seem to unable to even feed themselves. But, as it would seem he has particularly singled out people that have become adults only in the last decade or, at the most two decades, one must assume they not only overcame their obvious disabilities, but also have access to a time machine... or that these people formed a cabal while still in diapers... or something. It's almost like Mamet is blaming today's “Young Liberals” as a way of not blaming... I dunno, just to make up some random numbers, people who at this point, roughly 50, 60, 70?

Moving on a bit, we also find out that liberals are all God hating, but Nature loving because Nature is the new God; as is, confusingly, Government, Equality, and -yet more confusingly- Liberalism itself. Unless Liberalism is just a new religion. I forget. At times his paragraphs are koan-like... or simply nonsense.

Next, we move on to finding out that Mamet hates bureaucracies. A lot. (When Mamet doesn't like something, he really goes all in.) Government, management, labor (presumably organized labor?), safety inspectors, and I'm sure more that I am forgetting; in any case, all of them are leeches, all only existing to perpetuate their own existence. I'm not sure who, in broad strokes, this leaves, but apparently engineers (but only good ones), writers (of course) and set designers are okay. Again, I'm not making this up, that's his list. Also, students who are NOT LIBERAL ARTS MAJORS maybe get a pass.

I suspect he really means to give a pass to some “Rand-ian” class of creators. And he really does seem to mean this in a Randian way; the innovator, the creator, the unfettered striver is the pinnacle of human development, etc.. Of course, he several times tells us that, yes, we need government for roads, police, military, and a handful of other activities; presumably these people would not belong to any bureaucracy, and the above mentioned strivers would not either.

In other words, we will all exist as small, autonomous teams and individuals. Roads, military, police and a few other functions are still to be provided by the (nonexistent) (non-bureaucratic) government (run on, as we later find out many pages later, a 0% tax rate: since lower taxes raise earnings, and higher earnings raise tax revenues, having no taxes at all will generate the most tax rev... wait... hrmm. Oh, wait, nevermind. My 3rd grade arithmetic was bothering me, but I'm all better now.) Unfettered growth and prosperity will be provided by entrepreneurs; in teams of 4 or less, of course, since management and labor are THE HATED BUREAUCRACY.

And of course, it goes without saying, no one will have heard of David Mamet because *?*$ {@&*! LIBERAL ART MAJORS.

Sigh. I wish I was making this up (well, the last bit I did.)

To recapitulate, since I'm letting loose with a bit of stream-of-consciousness myself:
1. Mamet only just now discovered that life is trade-offs and this SHOCK! has shown him the error of his “liberal” ways.
2. Needless to say, having defined Liberalism to be the kind of doe-eyed naivete that would embarrass a Care Bear, Mamet finds tearing it apart is fairly easy.
3. Then, foisting this belief onto others, Mamet invents from whole cloth an entire generation whiling away their time in film school making art pornos, with barely enough time left to split between complaining to their interior decorators, eating ice-cream, and spitting on the grave of Jefferson while writing checks to Hezbollah (presumably from their trust funds.)
4. One wonders, given this, why anyone under the age of 45 is complaining at all, what with the feng shui and peeled grapes and all: David Mamet doesn't deign to address this.
5. Clearly, David Mamet needs to get out more.

Mamet is really angry at the 1960's and 70's, the excesses and absurdities of some strains of Liberalism of these decades. Mamet is angry at the Roosevelts and Taft (and maybe Freud.) And he is angry at film school, and, at this point is so angry he is making the Hulk jealous. David Mamet wants the kids to get off the goddamned lawn.

That said, I am a bit sad: he does broach, in moments of clarity, some issues that deserve to be discussed. Some larger issues like, “What exactly is meant by Equality? How much is enough? How do we know when we've gotten there, and what do we measure in order to know that we've gotten there?” These, and questions like these, are real, difficult, and worthy of serious consideration; and I don't think they are often approached by people of a more leftist leaning; there is a presumption that “equality” is worth whatever it takes, whatever that might mean, and whatever exactly equality means. I think that is a fair point.

But those questions are all buried in a angry prose of a guy who -again- only just now figured out that life is made of trade-offs. This is from a guy who lauds plumbers and farmers, but who apparently doesn't get out enough to realize that there might be more to Liberals than his daughter's “heiress” classmates and his friends' “doyen” dinner circles, and that there might be more to the “Liberal Young” than evidenced by the 40 or going-on-50 year old snapshot he has in his head.

This from guy who hates social studies because it is indoctrination, which the schools should not be doing, because culture can only be learned in the family, because only in the family can we learn morals, moral reasoning, and the application of justice... which you have no right to apply in law because games would suck without rules, which is why if you cheat in business maybe you can get a pass, but you should be ostracize anyone who would cheat in a game of poker. Oh, and despite all those platitudes, families are really truly valuable because of their economic impact. Which is why you can't have gay marriage. (Is your head spinning yet?)

The amount of illogic deployed in this book is, literally, dizzying.

Ignoring all that, the book, for me can be paraphrased, emotionally at least, in one passage: Mamet is enjoying a visit to an art gallery and is Disgusted! Angered! Revolted! to see a lady not throw out her paper plate, but instead fold it up and put it in her purse, presumably to reuse. Obviously, he concludes, she is a Liberal desperately placating her untenable nihilism. (Again, that is not sarcasm on my part; this is paraphrasing what Mamet writes.)

Think about this. Run through this yourself. Really ponder what kind of person (a) even notices someone else doing something like this, (b) has any kind of emotional reaction whatsoever to it, much less a reaction of being disgusted and angered, (c) concludes that this is yet more proof of the vast conspiracy against righteousness, and (d) writes about it in a book and publishes it.

That's who wrote this book, and that's what, God help me, I just spent a part of my life reading.
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dcunning11235 | 10 other reviews | Aug 12, 2023 |
I wanted to give in-between 3 and 4 stars. Mostly brilliant. I was in awe of the dialogue. The ending is weak and I often notice in plays in an effort to keep characters to a minimum that a couple of key characters that are dicussed never show up and would have been great additions. The main characters discuss having a seance with people who don't appear. I think it could have been hilarious if they had. The Irish maid is awesome. Love her comments and how rude the other characters are to her.
Mcdede | 2 other reviews | Jul 19, 2023 |
Hilarious and still holds up very well
Mcdede | 5 other reviews | Jul 19, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Terence Rattigan Author, Original play
Dean White Director
Jonathan Katz Screenwriter
Clark Johnson Director
Bill Norton Director
John Guare Author
Gregor Jordan Director
Martin Jarvis Director
Joe Mantegna Actor, Narrator


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