May 22, 2002

Make-Believe Town

These delightful essays from the brilliant playwright visit favorite Mamet topics with a directness not always possible onstage. Deer hunting, gambling, writing captions for dirty magazines, diners, it's all good and it's all lively. "The Jew For Export" is at once a fascinating look at the ambiguous place of Jewish actors -- Theda Bara, Lauren Bacall, Winona Ryder, Cary Grant, Paul Newman -- in film (see Brustein on Jews in the theater); Jews are everywhere, but "how would one know if one did not know." Mamet segues from this observation into a scathing, intriguing attack on Schindler's List, which he argues takes the same attitude toward the Jews that the stock melodrama adopts toward the pretty girl tied to the railroad tracks.