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HH: [I] found The Red Wing so compelling that even though we have to cover the news of Iran, I want to begin by asking is this an homage in part to Patrick O’Brian?

DM: Absolutely. Patrick O’Brian, who of course notably wrote the Aubrey-Maturin books, 22 stories about life in the Napoleonic Navy and the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars. It’s one of the great works of fiction in the history of the English language, and I’ve read the books many, many times. And I was vastly inspired by them. It’s also an homage to the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser[, …] which is a series of 15 novels about a cad in the early Victorian days who went all over the Earth. There’s a lot of these great works of historical imagination. Bernard Cromwell writes them. Harold Coyle writes them. And I love all these stories, so I thought I’d try my hand at one.

    -INTERVIEW: David Mamet On The Red Wing, The First Book of His Novella, Three War Stories (Hugh Hewitt, November 26, 2013) The three novellas in this collection are loosely united by war themes. The first, and best, described above, is a memoir of a law suit by an author whose O'Brianesque novels hewed too closely to his true life adventures as a sailor and spy. The second, told in a disturbingly similar voice, is a memoir of Plains warfare by a former soldier. The last will be more familiar to Mamet fans. It is a dialogue driven tale of a hood and a cop stealing a plane at the time of Israel's war of independence.

Now I recognize that there's an element of unfairness in criticizing an author for writing the story he wanted to, instead of the one you wanted him to, but The Red Wing (that first story) leaves so much unsaid and offers such promise that Mr. Mamet could have written a worthy successor to the Aubrey and Maturin adventures that I found it maddening. As it stands, the palimpsest quality requires unraveling the memoir from the novels from the memoirs, all of which are, of course, fictions in the first place. This three or even four times removed quality is not just confusing but tends to blunt the impact of some of the best scenes. One can only hope that the author finds the time to write the novels that the story refers to.


Grade: (B-)


See also:

David Mamet Links:

    -FILMOGRAPHY: David Mamet (IMDB)
    -WIKIPEDIA: David Mamet
    -BOOK SITE: Three War Stories Paperback by David Mamet (FSB)
    -EXCERPT: excerpt of David Mamet's 'Three War Stories
    -EXCERPT: from The Redwing (Big Think)
    -ESSAY: FIVE BEST: Looking at War From Many Angles (David Mamet, April 23, 2011, WSJ)
    -ESSAY: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal': An election-season essay (David Mamet, Mar 11 2008, Village Voice)
    -ESSAY: Goldilocks (David Mamet, Winter 2005, Threepenny Review)
    -ARTICLE: New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves (LESLIE KAUFMAN, April 16, 2013, NY Times)
    -ARTICLE: David Mamet joins DIY trend as self-published ebooks top charts: Playwright's decision to do it himself comes as Rachel Van Dyken's homemade ebook heads UK and US charts (Alison Flood, 4/18/13,
-INTERVIEW: David Mamet On The Red Wing, The First Book of His Novella, Three War Stories (Hugh Hewitt, November 26, 2013)
    -INTERVIEW: Lunch with the FT: David Mamet: Dramatist David Mamet shocked fellow writers when he crossed America’s cultural divide to embrace conservatism. He tells John Gapper why he’s ‘crazy’ about Sarah Palin (John Gapper, 6/11/10, Financial Times)
    -INTERVIEW: Author Mamet to Newsmax: New Stories Deal With Brutality of War (John Bachman and Cynthia Fagen, 11/11/13, Newsmax)
    -INTERVIEW: TheDC Interviews: David Mamet talks War (Patrick Howley, 12/27/2013, Daily Caller)
    -INTERVIEW: America’s Cassandra: David Mamet Speaks on the Lies of Obama and War (Lloyd Grove, 11/11/13, Daily Beast)
    -INTERVIEW: David Mamet on Philip Seymour Hoffman (Hugh Hewitt, February 3, 2014)
    -PROFILE: David Mamet's Culture War (David Frum, 5/09/12, Daily Beast)
    -INTERVIEW: Writer-to-Writer: A Conversation With David Mamet (Mark Rubinstein, 11/18/2013, Huffington Post)
    -PROFILE: Mr. Mamet Has a Few Choice Words (DAVE ITZKOF, January 29, 2006, NY Times)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Political conservative in liberal Hollywood, David Mamet (John Carlson, Nov 13, 2013, KVI)
    -INTERVIEW: Is the political tide in Hollywood turning? (Megyn Kelly, November 11, 2013, The Kelly File: Fox)
    -INTERVIEW: David Mamet's Conservative Conversion (Sean Hannity, 7/08/11)
-ARCHIVES: David Mamet (NY Times)
    -ARCHIVES: David Mamet (Huffington Post)
    -ARCHIVES: David Mamet (The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Three War Stories by David Mamet (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
    -REVIEW: of Three War Stories (David Kinchen, Huntington News)
    -REVIEW: of Three War Stories (Sandra Cruz, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of Three War Stories (PF Haber, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of Three War Stories (Lars Walker, American Culture)
    -REVIEW: of Three War Stories (Write Teachers)
    -REVIEW: of
-REVIEW: of The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture by David Mamet (Marjorie Haun, BlogCritics)

Book-related and General Links: