Waiting: Selected Nonfiction

Elizabeth Swados. Hanging Loose (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-934909-21-8
Having written reassuringly about mental illness (My Depression: A Picture Book), Swados's latest collection of published and unpublished nonfiction pieces seems intended only to make herself feel good. The novelist, composer, poet, theater director, and five-time Tony nominee admits as much in prepublication materials, stating that she is "celebrating different parts of my life and the many people who have been a part of it." Indeed, Swados writes about the late Ellen Stewart, her mentor, and founder of New York City's La Mama Experimental Theatre, young actors she's directed in theatrical productions, awkward encounters with Marlon Brando and Sean Penn, and African travels with innovative director Peter Brook. The book's strongest pieces are the few in which Swados focuses on others, such as "The Story of a Street Person," a moving portrait of her schizophrenic older brother, who lost his right arm and leg after hurling himself in front of a subway train and later died alone in a barricaded storefront apartment. Elsewhere, Swados jokes about being bipolar, which "might suggest that I'm into saving the environment," while the title essay offers a profound, yet whimsical meditation on the trials and tribulations of waiting. More such essays would have been welcome. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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