Rules for Others to Live By: Comments and Self-Contradictions by Richard Greenberg

May 28, 2018

Playwright weaves together characters and life events with enviable depth, clarity, and succinctness.

Somebody’s algorithm decided I might like this book, and comparisons to David Sedaris and Garrison Keillor were all the convincing I needed.

I’m not sure I can say what this was about, because it wasn’t any one person or theme. Nor was it Greenberg going on about himself, even though it provided an intimate and seemingly authentic glimpse into his thoughts and accumulated wisdom. Maybe New York, maybe some people he’s known, maybe parts of the journey one goes on when living in his own head. It featured his thoughts on several different topics, plainly labeled, and yet nothing felt like a breathless rant or absurd fabrication.

Whatever I just read, it struck a surprising balance of being opinionated and eccentric without ego or grandiosity. Gentle, casual, profound wisdom that never raised its voice. There were a number of phrases I’d have highlighted and circled and dog-eared if not for the consideration of my fellow library patrons.

I felt many times like I could relate to this (apparently famous) Richard Greenberg fellow, yet his prowess with language never blurred the thick line between reader and writer.