Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller (Play)

Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman is a 1949 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller. It was the recipient of the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play.

I read this play script right before I watched the stage play in London at The Noël Coward Theatre. It’s only about 100 pages long and quick to read like dialogue always is compared to prose.

It was probably the first time that I attempted to read the script before watching the play – and it was great to know every single thing that happened on stage. (Because normally I do miss stuff said on the stage.) So I might do it again in the future. I love stage plays, have loved it since high school. And now that I’m in London it is the perfect place to go see them. I try to go at least a couple of times a year.

The story is very bleak, as you can tell from the title. It’s about the death of a salesman in every single aspects, literally and metaphorically. It is about the decaying of dreams and finally realizing that you haven’t made it, and not even your sons have made it. But it wasn’t just about watching a train wreck of a man and his family. I’m generally not one to like any kind of misery books and the likes, but the play goes deeper. The dynamics and the relationships of the characters are quite complex and handled tactfully.

As a side note, before I went to New York I seemed to not able to recall any books set in New York, but after I came back I keep bumping into them. This play is set in outer New York and Boston.

Mee’s rating: 4/5Some people may not like this play because it’s so crushingly sad, but I can see why it’s become one of the classics – it has the whole package of drama, complex characters, purposeful dialogues, and believable turns of events.

Death of a Salesman, London 2015
Poster of the limited run of the classic play in London 2015

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

secret history

In The Secret History we follow six Classical Greek students in Vermont college. In the first couple of pages it is revealed that this group of friends killed one of them. So the story is a why-dun-it rather than a who-dun-it, and about the aftermath of the killing. Great premise.

I read the second half of the book on a boat in Greece and Turkey so The Secret History is officially my summer and holiday reading:

reading on a boat
Can’t lie – it’s pretty awesome to spend your holiday reading on a boat :)

As The Goldfinch is more recently out, everybody on the boat seemed to have read it and ask me if I had read it too. I haven’t. The Secret History is my first Donna Tartt book, and I do realize I’m a bit late to the party. In fact I wonder a bit whether the book has gotted a bit dated. Though it was only published in 1992 – so our world is still largely similar, the non-existence of mobile phone was a bit jarring. There are a large amount of calling to someone’s flat or someone’s dorm, and trying to contact someone by landline, and not being able to reach the person. It’s similar to the slight annoyance you feel when you watch movies from the 90s, and major plot points hinge on people not being able to contact each other immediately with mobile phone, and you think there’s no way stories like this could happen again now.

I liked that the book is very readable. I think it’s a perfect beach read (or boat read or holiday read) – or any time when you have a big chunk of reading time, since it is 660 pages long. So since I read it during the holiday I didn’t mind too much that it’s so long – kinda reminded me of the 5th book of Harry Potter, both of which are very readable. But really they went on and on and on. After about 2/3 of it though I’m pretty fed up with all the characters being drunk or drugged 90% of the time. I never liked people’s drunk stories and I don’t like being drunk myself, so I had little empathy for all the drunkenness.

Tons of bloggers/readers love this book I know, so I didn’t quite expect my lukewarm reaction. I wonder if I would’ve felt differently if I read it when it was out. I have a feeling that the book just doesn’t date very well. I’d be interested to know what you think if you’re one of those people who just read this book in the past couple of years.

Mee’s rating: 3.5/5 starsIt’s a very readable book, but I didn’t love it as much as I hoped. Will probably read The Goldfinch though.

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