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realjimbob

REALJimBob

Fortysomething, photographer slacker, working in IT, living in Greenwich; failed polymath; drinks and eats too much, reads too little...

Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller Many years ago my dad went through a phase of trying to improve me - sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. One of his attempts was this book. He bought it for me as a present back in 1986. Twenty-six years later, I've just read it, and I don't think it worked.

Willy Loman is a salesman at the end of his career and his life. A life he's spent chasing 'the American Dream' apparently pretty unsuccessfully. He's full of big dreams and an over-exaggerated sense of past achievements. His family all seem to buy into this vision, yet they seem to be living a pretty hand-to-mouth existence. Willy and Linda's children, Biff and Happy, both seem to have struggled to live up their father's optimistically high expectations for them - Biff is an itinerant farm-hand and Happy is a office assistant. Biff is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his choice makes him happy but disappoints his father, while Happy appears to be heading down the route of emulating his father's behaviours. These mismatches, between what he believes he should have and what he actually has, also appears to have driven him into a state of clinical depression.

As other reviews have already suggested, I imagine this works much better on the stage than on the page. None of the characters are particularly likeable, or even that interesting as individuals. Hopefully the benefit of a cast brings a level of depth to the characters that allows the play to work.