BOOK REVIEW: The Wild Party

Joseph Moncure March wrote this tale of debauchery and deception in rhyming couplets in 1928, just before the world descended into the depths of the Great Depression.

Decades later, artist and author Art Spiegelman (of MAUS fame), found a copy in a used bookstore and fell instantly in love with the darkness and depravity of March’s lost classic. In 1994, nearly 70 years after the publication of The Wild Party, Spiegelman published this illustrated version.

March’s short, taut thriller beautifully captures the grim determination of a group of down-but-not-out actors, dancers and vaudeville performers as they use drink and sex to mask the depression of their everyday lives. Spiegelman’s woodblock-style illustrations add the perfect touch of dark sensuality that at times turn to stale, harshly lit reality. The poem builds to an inevitable climax of violence that nevertheless leaves the reader sitting up straight and waiting for the end.

William S. Burroughs said of The Wild Party: “It’s the book that made me want to become a writer.”

Highly recommended.

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