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Author discovery: Theresa Rebeck

So lately I have been trying to see more live theater. I’ve been fairly successful in this goal, in part because a very cool theater company, Portland Playhouse, is now within easy walking distance of my house.

Last weekend, for instance, I saw Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck. Portlanders, I recommend the production. Get there quick, though, it’s only running through next weekend. (I am kind of in love with the venue, too. It’s a small former church, the sort of place where the Theater Borealis cast and crew from Rules and Geoffrey from Slings and Arrowswould feel perfectly at home.)

I liked the script enough that I was immediately compelled to find out what else Rebeck had written. She’s written a number of other plays, but I was most excited to discover that she’d also written a novel — Three Girls and Their Brother. If you click the link up there to her website, I would advise that you not read her own description of the book, though, because it is very spoilery.

I loved the book. It’s a satire of contemporary celebrity about three sisters, the granddaughters of a famous literary critic, who are catapulted to a ludicrous level of fame via a photo shoot in the New Yorker, and the effect this has on all of them and their brother. It is very smart. I saw some reviews online that dismissed it as fluff. I think those reviewers missed the point. Like E. Lockhart in YA, Rebeck has the gift of creating a compelling, witty surface with considerable depth beneath. As a matter of fact, in part because all the viewpoint characters are teenagers, I think Three Girls and Their Brother could have been published for a YA audience. (Although there are even more swears than there are in my books, which is saying something.)

Here’s a quote from Rebeck(the link is to the interview where it’s from) with which I’m very much in sympathy: “I’m curious about the different places writing invites me to explore, and I also feel no need to repeat myself. In fact, I feel a little impatient whenever I think I might be repeating myself. It makes me anxious.”

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  • Michelle
    March 31, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Whoa, apparently the next stop for Mauritius is the Pasadena Playhouse, where it’s opening tomorrow. Since it comes highly recommended from a trusted source, I’ll definitely have to check it out. :)