Wendy and the Lost Boys

When I saw Wendy Wasserstein sitting in an audience in New York City, I was like all the others Julie Salamon said “would stop her on the street…not with starstruck awe but with familiarity…”  Like everyone else, I thought I knew her; I even have a friend who went to Mt. Holyoke, her alma mater.  Watching her plays felt like having a private conversation with a good friend.  In Wendy and the Lost Boys, a biography of Wendy Wasserstein, Salamon promises to reveal some of the private secrets behind the public life of the playwright.

I’ve studied the pictures preceding each chapter and read through her beginnings, growing up in an immigrant family in Brooklyn from 1950 – 71.  Her mother married twice – Wasserstein’s father was also her uncle, and her older step-brother, Abner, was quietly placed in a “special” school.  More secrets to be revealed? Who fathered her child?  What was it like having Meryl Streep as a fellow graduate student?  Salamon’s story reads like a long gossipy magazine article with sections on “becoming a writer,” the Pulitzer prize winning Heidi Chronicles, famous friends, mother of a toddler at age 50…

“A friend often told her, ‘You were born into great material.'”

Francine Prose, wrote a review of the book for the New York Times:   What Wendy Wasserstein Wrought.   Charles Isherwood’s 2006 article – Her Plays Spoke to a Generation – not only summarizes her writings and craft but also shows her as the flagbearer for women who could laugh at themselves while they thought they could or should have it all – husband, children, and career.

For Wendy, two out of three wasn’t bad.