Friday, September 23, 2016

Reader's Diary #1386- David Mamet: Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross, at just 108 pages, is still not an easy play to read. At first I though the dialogue was off, but then I realized that just the opposite might be true: it may be too realistic. If you've ever transcribed an interview (I have), you'll know what I mean when I say that everyday speech is rarely an eloquent thing. You don't often notice it in actual conversation, but there are weird pauses, lots of ums and other guttural nonsense, sentence fragments and so on. You don't notice it because you're also reading facial expressions, gestures, you're aware of the context and so on.

Mamet's dialogue is full of this and of real estate jargon. I'm sure that if you've seen the play performed (or the movie adaptation) you'd have a much easier time following along, but reading it? It ain't Shakespeare and there's nothing pretty about these words.

Not that this is a condemnation of the play, of course; it was written for the stage, not the page. What is a condemnation is my lack of enthusiasm for the story even after deciphering it. I get that it's about alpha-males carrying too much about, and willing to stoop to any level to get, stuff that most us probably don't care about or wouldn't admit if we did, but plot-wise it drags and never amounts to much. I even read a convincing interpretation that the play is really about organized religions. Fine, but it's all just character, with barely a point and even less of a tale. It might have made a fine painting.

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