Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March

This book is really a really long poem which was written in 1926 but wasn't published until 1928 because it was deemed too saucy. It was also a banned book in Boston. It was later published in 1968 but was a censored version until 1994 when it was re-published (again) but this time as the original with illustrations by Art Spiegelman - which is the one I read.

In a nut shell it is about a night of debauchery - a night in the life of Queenie and her man Burrs. It starts with a lover's quarrell between the two which then turns into a house party with the pre-requiste alcohol, lust, music and sex. Fights break out, Queenie indulges in a smutty little affair designed to get back at Burrs for calling her a slut, she inevitably gets caught in a moment of passion and somewhere along the way a murder is committed.

Brilliantly written, it is a poem written in narrative form or rather a novel written in the form of poetry - either way it is exquisite. The rhythm of the rhyming is almost like that found in a nursey rhyme but at the same time it has a kind of sensual flow to it. The lines are reduced to merely one word in parts to speed up the rhythm and to highlight the action.
My favourite passage is:

Some love is fire: some love is rust:
But the fiercest, cleanest love is lust.
And their lust was tremendous. It had the feel
Of hammers clanging; and stone; and steel

But the artwork is what really did it for me, black and white, completely devoid of colour and in an film noir style to reflect the period and tone and style of the poem, it adds an extra vibrancy and visual effect to the original poem.

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