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Shawn Levy
Shawn Levy
Film and pop culture historian, critic, poet, soccer nut, Burner
Hollywood
Biography
Film
Pop culture
Book a 1:1 with Shawn Levy
Hi!

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Talk soon,
Sam

Howdy! Appreciate your stopping by!

On my mind

I'm a longtime observer of Hollywood and pop culture in general, with several bestsellers and a lot of ideas for new books. Currently in the final stretches of a biography of Clint Eastwood and thinking about what's next. And always writing poems when I'm lucky enough to have one pop into my head.

Why I'm excited to talk with readers

Every time I speak with readers, going back to my days as a daily newspaper critic, I have come away enriched and informed. I'm also a longtime teacher of writing and film studies, and I have a lot to offer to anyone curious about those endeavors.

If you're interested in such esoterica as Burning Man, soccer, or life in Portland, Oregon, I just may be your guy.

All best,

Shawn Levy

Let's talk! Open to...👇
Freewheeling conversations
Questions about my writing
Questions about your writing
Writing in general
Book a 1:1 with Shawn LevyBook a 1:1 with Shawn Levy
Where else you can find me
Personal website
Substack
My latest
My Substack
 by 
Shawn Levy
Where I've written

In On the Joke

The Original Queens of Standup Comedy

In on the Joke is the story of a group of unforgettable women who knocked down the doors of stand-up comedy so other women could get a shot. It spans decades, from Moms Mabley’s rise in Black vaudeville between the world wars, to the roadhouse ribaldry of Belle Barth and Rusty Warren in the 1950s and '60s, to Elaine May's co-invention of improv comedy, to Joan Rivers's and Phyllis Diller’s ferocious ascent to mainstream stardom. These women refused to be defined by type and tradition, facing down indifference, puzzlement, nay-saying, and unvarnished hostility. They were discouraged by agents, managers, audiences, critics, fellow performers—even their families. And yet they persevered against the tired notion that women couldn’t be funny, making space not only for themselves, but for the women who followed them.

“A sensitive and vivid study of early female stand-ups… [Levy is a] painstaking, knowledgeable guide.”  

New York Times Book Review

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A Year in the Life of Death

Poems Inspired by the Obituary Pages of The New York Times

When Shawn Levy had the notion to write a poem each day for a year, inspired by the obituary pages of The New York Times, he had no way of knowing that the year in question, 2016, would claim so many of the world's most iconic figures. His project became, in effect, a vehicle for surveying the breadth of the twentieth century: Titans from all fields of endeavor, lives that contained one quirky but insoluble achievement, and people who had special significance in his own life. From Nancy Reagan to Muhammad Ali, David Bowie to Arnold Palmer, Prince to Janet Reno, Antonin Scalia to Mary Tyler Moore, and including a Black Miss America, an obsessive weather reporter, the nurse famously kissed by a sailor on VJ Day, the man who put the “@” in your email address, and the last man to walk on the moon, the lives recollected in these one hundred poems provoke compassion, sorrow, outrage, surprise, nostalgia, even laughter.

“This book is a wailing song, with side eye when and where you need it. These poems are a resuscitation of art and heart.”

― Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Verge

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The Castle on Sunset

Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont

Since 1929, Hollywood’s brightest stars have flocked to the Chateau Marmont as if it were a second home. An apartment building-turned-hotel, the Chateau has been the backdrop for generations of gossip and folklore: where director Nicholas Ray slept with his sixteen-year-old Rebel Without a Cause star Natalie Wood; Jim Morrison swung from the balconies; John Belushi suffered a fatal overdose; and Lindsay Lohan got the boot after racking up nearly $50,000 in charges in less than two months.

But despite its mythic reputation, much of what has happened inside the Chateau’s walls has eluded the public eye—until now. Vivid, salacious, and richly informed, The Castle on Sunset is a glittering tribute to Hollywood as seen from inside the walls of its most hallowed hotel.

“Fascinating, dishy, and glimmering with insight.... This is the definitive book about Hollywood’s most storied hotel.”

— Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of Wild

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