"Spiegelman's drawings are like demonic woodcuts: every angle, line, and curve jumps out at you. Stylishness and brutishness are in perfect accord."
The New York Times
Art Spiegelman's sinister and witty black-and-white drawings give charged new life to Joseph Moncure March's Wild Party, a lost classic from 1928. The inventive and varied page designs offer perfect counterpoint to the staccato tempo of this hard-boiled jazz-age tragedy told in syncopated rhyming couplets.
Here is a poem that can make even readers with no time for poetry stop dead in their tracks. Once read, large shards of this story of one night of debauchery will become permanently lodged in the brain. When The Wild Party was first published, Louis Untermeyer declared: "It is repulsive and fascinating, vicious and vivacious, uncompromising, unashamed . . . and unremittingly powerful. It is an amazing tour de force."
A lost ``classic''? It's odd how strikingly some writing may date to an era yet can later be resuscitated because of its potential for art and camp, and thus gain a new audience. That's what Spiegelman (Maus I and II) has pulled off here by rediscovering and illustrating this jazzy, insistently rhyming roaring '20s period poem, banned in Boston when first published in 1928. What Spiegelman, in his introduction, calls his ``fetishistic'' pleasure in the poem, penned by the New Yorker's inaugural managing editor, is borne out by March's dither of hard-edged rhythms recounting the boozing, brawling and fractious lovemaking of an all-night party ending in a murder. The characters are hard-boiled and needy-and stereotypically presented. The women, especially, seem deliberately one-dimensional, even offensively so-if one is inclined to take offense at all. But the poem works as a bouncy artifact, and the black-and-white illustrations are appropriately, viscerally graphic, summoning up the sense of a knockabout urban spree with debonair zeal and well-appointed crudeness. (Dec.)