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August: Osage County by Tracy Letts Review

Title: August: Osage County

Author: Tracy Letts

First published February 1, 2008

138 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9781559363303 (ISBN10: 1559363304)

Rating: 4.14


A masterpiece of modern theatre, August: Osage County delves deep into the complexities of a dysfunctional American family. A hot summer night sets the stage for the disappearance of the Weston patriarch, leading the family to reunite at their Oklahoma homestead.

As secrets are uncovered, the play takes us on a wild ride of epic tragedy and black comedy. Tracy Letts masterfully weaves together three generations of unfulfilled dreams, leaving no character unscathed.

This three-act, three-and-a-half-hour production is a must-see for anyone seeking a thrilling and unforgettable theatrical experience.

About the Author

Tracy Letts is an accomplished American playwright and actor, known for his award-winning play August: Osage County, which earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Letts comes from a family of writers and performers. His mother, Billie Letts, is a best-selling author, while his late father, Dennis Letts, was a college professor and actor.

Letts grew up in Durant, Oklahoma, where he attended Durant High School before moving to Dallas to pursue acting. He worked various odd jobs, including waiting tables and telemarketing, while honing his craft.

Eventually, Letts moved to Chicago, where he spent over a decade working for theater companies such as Steppenwolf and Famous Door. He was one of the founding members of Bang Bang Spontaneous Theater, along with actors such as Michael Shannon and Paul Dillon.

In 1991, Letts wrote his first play, Killer Joe, which went on to be performed in numerous countries and languages.

In 2007, Letts premiered his play August: Osage County in Chicago, which later moved to New York and earned him both a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008. Letts’ plays often explore complex moral and spiritual themes, and he cites Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Jim Thompson as his influences.

He also considers sound to be a powerful storytelling tool in theater.

Despite his success, Letts remains an active member of the Steppenwolf company and continues to write and act in plays. His mother has described his work as both humorous and dark, often featuring characters who are struggling with their own mortality.

Editoral Review

August: Osage County is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by American playwright and actor Tracy Letts, which was first published on February 1, 2008. The genre of the book is primarily drama, which explores a family’s dysfunctional relationships and traumatic past, and examines the impact of addiction, betrayal, and secrets on human relationships.

Letts uses dark humor, intense psychological drama, and multi-dimensional characters to portray the complexity of family dynamics and the struggle to find meaning and connection in modern America. The plot of the story revolves around the Weston family, who reunites in their rural Oklahoma home when their patriarch, Beverly Weston, goes missing.

The three Weston sisters, along with their significant others and relatives, gather at their family home to search for their father, only to confront their mother, Violet, and a series of explosive revelations about their past, including rape, adultery, drug addiction, and suicide. Through the unfolding of the family’s chaotic and contentious interactions, Letts explores themes of family dysfunction, personal responsibility, and the effects of addiction on human relationships.

Letts’ writing is sharp, witty, and insightful, and August: Osage County is a beautifully written story. The book’s characters are multi-dimensional and flawed, and Letts masterfully uses their interactions and conversations to reveal their vulnerabilities, motivations, and conflicts.

The pacing of the plot is brisk, and the story unfolds with a sense of urgency and momentum that keeps the reader engaged and invested in the outcome. The book’s themes are also relevant and timely, especially in light of the ongoing national conversations around family relationships, addiction, and unresolved trauma.

One of the book’s strengths is Letts’ ability to create vivid and realistic characters who possess distinctive personalities and motivations. The dialogue between the characters is compelling, and the way they interact with each other is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Letts skillfully balances humor and tragedy, creating a sharp and engaging narrative that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. However, there are some limitations to the book as well.

While Letts’ writing is excellent, some readers may find the book’s intense psychological drama and the somber themes to be emotionally taxing. The story is also complex, and readers may have to pay close attention to the various character arcs and subplots to fully appreciate the book’s scope and impact.

Overall, August: Osage County is an exceptionally well-crafted book that beautifully captures the complexity of human relationships and the struggle to find meaning and connection in modern America. The book is a must-read for anyone who loves intense dramas, multi-dimensional characters, and engaging storytelling.

The book deserves 4.5 out of 5 for its engaging writing style and compelling portrayal of family relationships.