Recent Work By Sasha Taublieb

The plays of Mac Wellman. Pretentious nonsense? Or clever fun? Damned if I know. Over the years, I’d read nearly every play by the sexteguagenarian, Obie-award winning, Guggenheim fellowship recipient, thus developing an unhealthy obsession with bad pennies, cheese, crows, and engaging in analytical discussions about every Wellman-loving director from Jim Simpson to some undergrad. I thought, “Pshaw. I’ve got this.”  

I was determined to not be the ditzy, inarticulate actor who gushes “I love Mac Wellman” and then, when asked to support her view, dishes out a puzzled look. I had smart things to say about the kooky, yet philosophical writer. Still, I wasn’t going to drone on with doctoral gobbledygook about Brechtian storytelling, Beckettian landscapes, puppets, social metaphors, and references to Shakespeare, Greek tragedy, and meter.

Someday This Will be Funny, Tillman’s collection of short works, takes us through a myriad of subjects and styles—some with fast-paced quirkiness and economy of language, others with monotone didacticism.It’s amazing that the writer who turned out a multi-layered piece of flash fiction about a woman who hoards unpaid parking tickets in her glove compartment is also the same writer who produced a dull, overly sentimental and philosophical, essay-story-hybrid about mourning doves sitting at her window—unfortunately, the first piece in the collection.

I took a while reviewing Diana Spechler’s new novel, Skinny because I was too busy trying to fit into itty bitty shorts at Banana Republic. I tried to do double-duty—reading some of the book while I waited in line—but it was too confusing. All those size zero mannequins that looked like Gray Lachmann, the protagonist of Skinny and her co-counselors at “fat camp” telling me to go to work out, while a new, blank document in MS Word sat on my desk at home saying feed me!

Unemployed and looking for an inexpensive way to not feel miserable and lonely? Richard Ford has edited a new anthology of short stories about work and class: Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar. It features an array of established authors—Ann Beattie, Donald Barthelme, Junot Díaz, John Cheever, Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff, and more—but collecting a bunch of stories about work and slapping a light blue cover on it is nothing new. In 1999 Signet Classics published a similar compilation, The Haves and Have-Nots edited by Barbara Solomon, and in 2004 Random House published Labor Days—I think you can guess what those stories are about—edited by David Gates.