Simon, the theatre critic who recently lost the position he held for 37 years as theatre reviewer at New York magazine, saw Applause Books lend his writings a degree of immortality recently with the publication of three volumes of his opinions.
The trio of books are titled "John Simon on Theatre," "John Simon on Film" and "John Simon on Music." Predictably, the heftiest tome, composed of 837 pages, is the theatre book. Included are reviews dating back to 1974 (Candide is the first) and ending in 2003 (with the National Actors Theatre production of The Persians).
Director Jack O'Brien provides the introduction for the book. "You couldn't simply dismiss a Simon review if it were a pan, and you couldn't smugly share in the joy, were it a rave," writes O'Brien. "John was always too far ahead of the class, outstripping everyone else in both knowledge, history, reference and that one element without which any critic can be dismissed as merely a 'reviewer': he had standards." $32.95 is the list price.
Bruce Beresford wrote the introduction for the film volume (662 pages, $29.95), and Ned Rorem penned the into to the collection of music writing (504 pages, $27.95).
The acerbic critic was recently hired to review theatre for Bloomberg.com. He will write a weekly column as well as monthly "think pieces" on the arts for the the politically conservative magazine the Weekly Standard out of Washington, DC. Simon is known equally for his considerable erudition, his longevity as a critic (he is 80) and his vituperative style. His stinging reviews—particularly his sometimes vicious appraisals of performers' physical appearances—have periodically raised calls in the theatre community for his removal.
Simon, who was born in 1925 in the former Yugoslavia, and never lost his Eastern European accent, was educated at Harvard. He began by writing critiques for Commonweal and the Hudson Review. He also reviewed for New York's Channel 13, but was forced out in 1967 because the station considered his notices misanthropic.