Julie Salamon

Wendy Wasserstein—who won a 1989 Tony and Pulitzer for The Heidi Chronicles—died of lymphoma at age 55 in 2006 after a lifetime spent wondering what women expect of themselves … and gay men. In Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein (Penguin, $29.95), Julie Salamon provides an intriguing biography that considers the people who played a role in shaping Wasserstein’s psyche. Among them: one helluva merciless mother and formidable Yale classmates including Christopher Durang and Terrence McNally (gay and gay). Wasserstein established herself as an female voice in 1977 with Uncommon Women and Others—also a great title, as it turned out, to describe the luminous list of actresses compelled to portray her characters on stage and screen: Meryl Streep, Joan Allen, Madeline Kahn, Julianne Moore, et al. Most of Wasserstein’s work is of local interest because it incubated at the Seattle Rep under the guidance of director Daniel Sullivan. More generally, Salamon delves into her many “husbands,” gay men often woven into her plays. There’s a vexing fixation in fiction on those “lost boys” whom she clearly adored, but couldn’t marry, in fact. STEVE WIECKING

Mon., Sept. 19, 7 p.m., 2011