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Like probably a lot of people, I know Wallace Shawn best from his roles in "My Dinner with André" and "Princess Bride". I've never seen one of his plays, and although I suppose I must have read one or more of the essays that originally appeared in "The Nation" I don't remember them. That should have tipped me off that the essays are, in fact, pretty unmemorable. I was hoping for more wit and play of intellect, but Wallace Shawn is basically a semi-intellectual: he knows his way around the neighborhood of ideas but hasn't built many original ones. This is abundantly clear in the interview with a genuine intellectual, Noam Chomsky, that is included here, the best thing in the book I'd say: even if you loathe Chomsky's politics you have to concede his brilliance in marshalling evidence and putting together an argument. Shawn, in contrast, stays at the level of generalities in most of these pieces.
—Second, even if you're a huge fan of Shawn you might be better off with the printed version of the book. Unless you have excellent hearing, this is not an audiobook for the car or anyplace with much background noise: Shawn's dynamic range goes way up and down, and if you set a volume that won't hurt your ears during his forceful passages you're likely to miss half of a sentence when he drops back to near a whisper.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What happened? These essays were great but we had to strain to hear them. Sometimes it was like Shawn dropped the mic. Come on. Production seems the easy part of this equation.