Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thorton Wilder's Our Town

I love Our Town and have read it several times since high school. It's truly a classic in that it doesn't grow dated. I think Wilder accomplished this through the setting, the use of the Stage Manager, the scientific facts that make it seem like we're looking at the Webbs and the Gibbs objectively (yet he manages to make us care and feel for them).

The moderator of my online bookclub asked what we thought of Emily's question as to whether humans appreciate and see life when they're alive. I think Wilder does what us to think that NO, we don't realize life, every minute, etc. and I agree that only some poets and saints do. I remember Wallace Shawn's character in My Dinner with Andre saying something to the effect that if we noticed everything in our environments it would make our heads explode. Yes, creation is that wonderful. We do have to function and while I think I should notice and realize more to see things from Emily's post-life vantage point would be just too much. That's why the others warned her not to go.

I like how Wilder uses lists to describe Grovers Corners and life in general. I like how the dry humor contrasts with the innocence of this town and of so many American traditions, so that Wilder writes about them with a tone that shows some of the town's shortcomings without mocking this way of life.

I just went to to buy the DVD with Spalding Gray, but it costs $54 (used $43). I'll borrow it from

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