Early Works: Kenneth Lonergan


“My mother read everything I wrote, but she always complained that there were too many explosions. I gave her chapters of The Wonderful World of Pluto as I was writing it, and at some point she said, ‘Someone gets blown up on every page!’ So my conscience pricked me and I wrote a chapter at the end of the book—which was somewhat insincere—in which the main character wanders around, feeling glad that there’s ‘no more violence.’”—Kenneth Lonergan

“Early Works,” a new series in Esopuswill make periodic incursions into the purest source of creativity: the unbridled sensibilities of a child. Each installment will feature examples of youthful work that represents the first glimmers of creativity from well-known artists and writers. We inaugurate the series with a contribution from acclaimed playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, who shares a collection of books he began writing and illustrating as a young boy. Coming from the creator of such keenly observed plays as This is Our Youth and Lobby Hero and the nuanced, character-driven films You Can Count on Me and Margaret, their subject matter may come as something of a surprise.

Born in 1962 and raised on New York City’s Upper West Side, playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan is a playwright and filmmaker whose plays include Lobby Hero (2001; winner of the Outer Critics Circle Best Play Award); The Waverly Gallery (2000; Pulitzer Prize finalist); and This Is Our Youth (1996; Drama Desk Best Play nominee). His first film, You Can Count on Me, was nominated for an Academy Award for best screenplay; his second, Margaret, was released in 2011 and proclaimed a “masterpiece” by The New York Times. Lonergan’s 2016 film, Manchester by the Sea, won Lonergan an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated in multiple other categories.