‘Recessional’ (Review)

RECESSIONAL (Broadside Books, May 2022) is not a book for the faint of heart. Its author, well-known playwright, and Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet, warns us that today the threat to our democracy is by the “thuggery of domestic commissars” who do not tolerate deviation of action or opinion from their approved narrative.

Depending on your political bent, social values or religious inclinations, the tone and tenor of his book will take you down the rabbit hole of provocative thought. It will either validate the ideological prism through which you see the world or shatter the lenses through which you view it, thus infuriating you to the point of distraction. America is battling an Uncivil War; David Mamet is in the thick of it and is taking no prisoners.

His book consists of thirty-eight diverse and distinctive essays which shed light on a kaleidoscope of issues which trouble him. Each essay depicts conflicts, but not about the usual protagonists: race, religion, and class, but more poignantly about the difficult choices people make. As such, he says we do not always make the right choice or the moral one, for if we did, we would have no need for laws.

Without a doubt, Mamet’s essays will give the reader serious matters to contemplate, a sampling of which are: On the Passivity of Jews, Slave Lessons, Cause and Effect, Grief and Wisdom, and lastly, Recessional. But the content of the issues he raises is what elicits Mamet’s ire, as he riles against the bane of our nation today, the shameless recession of responsibility.

“Savagery appeased can only grow” declares Mamet, as will the escalating disfunction of our nation. But what can we do about it? The thirty-eight essays Mamet wrote during this “past terrible year,” are his attempt to answer that question.

About the Author
Since retiring from IBM Steve Wenick has served as a freelance book reviewer for HarperCollins Publishing and Simon & Schuster. His reviews and articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Algemeiner, Jerusalem Online, Philadelphia Inquirer, Attitudes Magazine, and The Jewish Voice of Southern New Jersey. Steve and his wife are residents of Voorhees, New Jersey.

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