one of my favorite books.Just finished my at least third reread. Thank you Uncle Ernie and Aunt Judy for buying this book from the Book of the Month club to stock your upstairs living room bookshelf.
Moss Hart was a very successful playwright [The Man Who Came to Dinner] and director [My Fair Lady]. Act One, his autobiography, tells the story of his first Broadway success,Once in A Lifetime, produced in 1930.
The reader of this book is also an active member of the audience. Hart is funny. You laugh at Hart’s outsized appetite, his ego, his desire to make elaborate speeches to his collaborator [who takes baths to avoid him]. But as you laugh, you want this nobody from Brooklyn to succeed. When he and his family walk out of their dingy apartment, never to return, and he opens the windows so the rain “whips in through the windows like a broadside of artillery fire” you want to give him a standing ovation. He loved the grand gesture; but he also conveys the small gesture, how hard writing well is, how many times you have to discard your words and start over.
Moss Hart was a romantic about the theater; Act One begins with the first time he saw Broadway. But he wasn’t romantic about poverty. “Poverty was always a living and evil thing to me.”He wasn’t romantic about family either. “With my mother, the gulf that parted us was even wider, and it remained so forever. I felt sorrow for her, I admired her, but I did not like her. If this seems like a heartless impertinence I do not mean it so”
This book is great because it is entertaining, insightful and true.