Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet is the author of some of the best-known and most important plays in American theater, including American Buffalo (1977), Glengarry Glen Ross (1982), and Speed-the-Plow (1985). Born in 1947, Mamet grew up in a small Jewish neighborhood on the south side of Chicago and his plays often concern the everyday dramas of urban, working class people—the small-time con artist, the cutthroat salesman, the ingenious factory worker. He attributes his ear for dialogue to listening to his father talk and to several years of piano lessons, which gave him a feel for the musicality in speech. “Mamet deserves recognition for his careful, gorgeous, loving sense of language,” writes The Village Voice. “He has the most acute ear for dialogue of any American writer since J. D. Salinger.”
Mamet has also written numerous screenplays, including The Untouchables (1987), Wag the Dog (1997), and Ronin (1997). His awards include an Oscar, a Golden Globe Award, and a Tony. He received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1977 for American Buffalo. Mamet is also the author of several collections of essays and a collection of poems. He has taught at New York University, Goddard College, and the Yale Drama School.
Excerpt from Glengarry Glen Ross (1982)
AARONOW: How many leads have we got?
MOSS: The Glengarry… the premium leads… ? I’d say we got five thousand. Five. Five thousand leads.
AARONOW: And you’re saying a fella could take and sell these leads to Jerry Graff.
AARONOW: How do you know he’d buy them?
MOSS:: Graff? Because I worked for him.
AARONOW: You haven’t talked to him.
MOSS:: No. What do you mean? Have I talked to him about this? (Pause.)
AARONOW: Yes. I mean are you actually talking about this, or are we just…
MOSS: No, we’re just…
AARONOW: We’re just “talking” about it.
MOSS: We’re just speaking about it. (Pause.) As an idea.
AARONOW: As an idea.
AARONOW: We’re not actually talking about it.
AARONOW: Talking about it as a…
AARONOW: As a robbery.
MOSS: As a “robbery”?! No.
AARONOW: Well. Well…
MOSS: Hey. (Pause.)
AARONOW: So all this, um, you didn’t, actually, you didn’t actually go talk to Graff.
MOSS: Not actually, no. (Pause.)
AARONOW: You didn’t?
MOSS: No. Not actually.
AARONOW: Did you?
MOSS: What did I say?
AARONOW: What did you say?
MOSS: Yes. (Pause.) I said, “Not actually.” The fuck you care, George? We’re just talking…
AARONOW: We are?
MOSS: Yes. (Pause.)
AARONOW: Because, because, you know, it’s a crime.
MOSS: That’s right. It’s a crime. It is a crime. It’s also very safe.
AARONOW: You’re actually talking about this?
MOSS: That’s right. (Pause.)
AARONOW: You’re going to steal the leads?
Selected WorkThe Cryptogram (1995)Oleanna (1993)Some Freaks (1989)Uncle Vanya (1989)Speed-the-Plow (1985)Glenngarry Glen Ross (1982)Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1978)American Buffalo (1977)