(Lahr’s article appeared in the New Yorker, May 3.)
At the end of the 1984 play “Biloxi Blues,” Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical account of his induction into both the Army and adulthood, the wide-eyed nineteen-year-old hero, Eugene, is handed a book as a farewell gift by his first love, Daisy. “It’s blank pages,” she tells him. “For your memoirs.” The playwright, as it turned out, needed more than one book. At present count, Simon, who is eighty-two, has written two volumes of memoirs, thirty plays, more than twenty screenplays, and five musicals, one of the most successful of which—“Promises, Promises” (1968), with music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David—is now in revival (at the Broadway).
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