By Julie Salamon.
This is a biography of the awesome playwright Wendy Wasserstein.
People tell you all kinds of stupid shit when you remain single and they do not. "You'll find the right person eventually, it'll happen when you're not trying, there's someone out there for everyone." Then I think of folks like Wendy, who spent her entire life not married even though she wanted to be, getting nagged all the time to just get married already, and...well, she never did get married and find The One, did she? She wanted the traditional husband-and-children lifestyle, seemed to feel obligated to want it on top of that what with being Jewish and the parental nagging, and she didn't get it. Okay, so things probably could have gone better had she actually dated straight men in the last couple of decades of her life, which as far as I can tell, she did not. That didn't help. But those were the sorts of fellows that felt drawn to her enough, and she to them. But as usual, the gender thing ruined it all, and she ran out of time.
I don't know if that has anything to do with the review, really, but it bothers the hell out of me that people spout shit like that. And the end of her life just made me so sad for so many reasons. Not so much of a case of "she failed" so much as she tried to make it happen and it didn't go well, and her life ended too soon, and ARGHHHHHHHHHH.
Okay, okay, I'll try to tone down the angst for the rest of this review.
So Wendy grew up the youngest of five children in a ah...strange family that hid its secrets. Like Wendy's mom being married to one fellow for her first couple of kids and then marrying his brother after he died. Like her first son getting brain damage from an illness and getting put into a home and otherwise forgotten by the family, to the point where Wendy spent most of her life not knowing this information. Her oldest sister and other brother were high-rolling business types who rolled in and out of marriages, her younger sister stayed married and lived quietly in another state. Wendy couldn't help but compare herself to them--and her mother couldn't stop doing it either. Wendy floundered in college, didn't know what to do with herself, and eventually fell into playwriting, basing her plays on her family and friends in real life with very little fictionality. People, ah...had thoughts about that. But she came into her own and had a very successful career writing and giving speeches and mingling with the famous folks of NYC.
The title is very apt because the 'Lost Boys" theme runs through it often. As for her dating life, it seems that any straight man Wendy dated was only so-so about her, and she was only so-so about them. The folks she really hit it off with were all gay men, and she had varying degrees of ah, intimate relationships with them. She wanted to get married and have kids with someone, but none of her "husbands" (as she declared her close gay guy friends) could bring themselves to go that far. Finally taking a page from her own play The Heidi Chronicles, she spent many years getting artificially inseminated. Bizarrely, it didn't work until she was 48(!) years old, and due to miscarriage risk she kept it a secret until she gave birth. Alas, while she finally had the child she'd always wanted, having a baby destroyed her looks and health entirely. She got cancer and died only a few years after her child's birth.
Well, she definitely won in the career portion of her life. Wrote great plays. She did finally get the child she wanted, even if that didn't go very well or for very long. And she had a lot of friends.
It's hard to review a biography. You can't really help how the plot goes--this isn't reality television :P But I can say that the author did a good job of covering as much of Wendy's life as she could find out about, and got great coverage from the folks still living as far as I can tell. You do get to find out what was behind the plots of Wendy's works, which is always interesting to me--had no idea she was THAT based in real life...and didn't usually bother to tell anyone that before they got a ticket to opening night. The shadier aspects of Wendy's personality aren't given short shrift, but don't make you hate her either. We've all got dicey parts of ourselves that we're not proud of.
Even though I wish it ended differently (hah), this gets four stars.