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Mark Strand
'Essays' by Wallace Shawn
'Essays' by Wallace Shawn

Artists are in the business of simultaneously de-familiarizing and re-familiarizing us with the world around us. "Habit is a great deadener," Samuel Beckett explained, and art lends us a new pair of spectacles with which to view reality anew. Reading writer and actor Wallace Shawn's "Essays," a hodgepodge of short pieces on war, theater, sex, art and privileged guilt, with interviews of Noam Chomsky and poet Mark Strand thrown into the mix, I was reminded of this essential function of creative dreamers, be they playwrights, composers or painters. All, ultimately, are anthropologists of alien lands, which just so happen to be the ones we daily inhabit. Yes,...

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