I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir

Knopf. Mar. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9780593320525. $30. MEMOIR
In this richly detailed book, award-winning playwright and actor Fierstein tells his life story, from growing up in Brooklyn to finding success and adulation in the theater world. Fierstein discusses working in experimental theater and Broadway and off-Broadway musicals. He wrote the Tony-winning Torch Song Trilogy and starred in and wrote the book for La Cage Aux Folles—he notes that both of these works broke barriers for gay representation in theater. Fierstein also recounts performing in Hairspray and Fiddler on the Roof and cowriting the hit Kinky Boots. He shares his experiences of coming out and dealing with homophobia in the media. His memoir is filled with evocative characters and scenes, and his wit and way with dialogue shine. Among the book’s most poignant moments is Fierstein’s memory of watching a 2017 revival of Torch Song Trilogy; he reflects with surprise that its topics, which were revolutionary and almost radical when the show debuted (e.g., drag; gay relationships), have since become far more accepted, even commonplace, in mainstream culture.
VERDICT Written with verve and enthusiasm, Fierstein’s memoir will be a must-read for his fans and for theater lovers and anyone who appreciates pop culture.
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