We Play Ourselves offers a delightful, satirical glimpse into the entertainment industry and the price of fame. But Cass is less of a stereotypical Hollywood egomaniac than a garden-variety millennial, pining for a not-quite-ex and ordering takeout. Still, she approaches the world with openness and humility, taking responsibility for her own misery as she crawls out from rock bottom. Silverman balances wit with earnestness, the laugh-out-loud moments highlighting the absurdity of writing — whether plays, films or poetry, the genre she skewers most adroitly in a pitch-perfect parody of an overhyped ingénue. Cass’s desperation for a new, simpler life is universal. As she falls again and again, the reader believes she has the heart to pick herself back up.
... specificity of language is a talent of Silverman’s. Each page of the book is saturated with textured and complex characters. There is no filler, no stock photographs ... Nothing is wasted, Silverman’s approach far from minimalist, but still painstakingly economical ... Silverman’s wordplay and humor are some of the novel’s great pleasures, as are its surprises, however discomfiting or violent ... At its finest, the impulse to create, the novel ultimately shows, has nothing to do with calculations of jealousy or topicality ... We Play Ourselves is not only a story about how all-consuming artistic ambition can be—but also a poignant portrait of how much an artist can learn to love her work.
Silverman uses suspense to good effect here, compelling readers to flip pages quickly, desperate to know what happened; what’s the big thing Cass did to ruin her life? ... Silverman handles these overlapping stories well. There is a lot going on in the plot, however, and not enough time to spend with each of Cass’ relationships. The teenage girl fight club documentary plotline is less interesting than it could be because the reader’s ear is always to the wall, waiting to find out more about what happened with New York and Tara-Jean Slater ... While Cass’ relationship with her new housemates appears dynamic, there still isn’t enough room to explore these relationships in depth, leaving some character arcs feeling a little like reading off a list of names ... the drama of that event isn’t what readers will be left thinking about. The plot grabs you in more subtle ways ... an excellent dynamic that Silverman does a great job exploring, inviting readers to sympathize with Cass’ jealousy but realize, even as she talks from the first-person perspective, she’s missing something important ... a brilliant ending.