Tim Byrne reviews 'The World Only Spins Forward: The ascent of angels in America' edited by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois

Tim Byrne reviews 'The World Only Spins Forward: The ascent of angels in America' edited by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois

The World Only Spins Forward: The ascent of angels in America

edited by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois

Bloomsbury, $42.99 hb, 437 pp, 9781635571769

Most of the time, plays are just entertainments; they can be witty and insightful, even powerful and contemporary, and still function as merely satisfying divertissements. Rarely, so rarely entire decades can pass without one, a play functions in an entirely different capacity: these are works so galvanising they seem to presage, if not actually bring about, socio-political change. Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879) was one; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (1953) is undeniably another; and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A gay fantasia on national themes is probably the greatest of the modern era. A new book, The World Only Spins Forward (2018), edited by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, aims to contextualise, honour, and perhaps even lionise this monumental masterpiece. It paints an overarching portrait – in a gathered testimony by the people who worked on, wrote about, and/or witnessed it – of the play’s cultural roots and its progression into the American theatrical canon.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Tim Byrne

Tim Byrne

Tim Byrne is a freelance writer and theatre critic for Australian Book Review, Time Out Melbourne, and Australian Arts Review. He is currently working on a novel. Tim is also a bookseller and interviewer, running a series of author interviews at Avenue Bookstore. He maintains an arts blog that focuses on theatre, film, and books.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.