Absurd Drama Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, Fernando Arrabal, Edward Albee, Martin Esslin

When Plays like Ionesco’s Bald Primadonna and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot began to be produced in the early 50’s, critics and audiences were caught with their underthings in knots facing a phenomenon which appeared to flout every accepted standard of drama. Since then the “theater of the absurd’ has become a major dramatic form expressing something of the sense of spiritual desolation which followed the shock of the Second World War shaking religious, spiritual and moral foundations.

In this volume Ionesco’s first full-length play, Amedee and three short plays: Adamov’s Professor Taranee, Arrabal’s The Two executioners and my favorite Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.

There is an elaborate introduction by Martin Esslin suggesting the antecedents and showing how the development of the plays as poetic images gives them an inner realism and rich theatrical quality.

Absurd Drama Books

Absurd Drama Books

Absurd Drama Books

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KICK-ASS, by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr

If you ever wanted to be a super hero, fantasized of sporting a mask and just heading outside to some kick-ass? Well, this is the book tailored for you – the comic that starts where other super-hero books stop. Kick-Ass is realistic super heroes taken to the next level. Miss out at your own peril! Wolverine: Enemy of the State’s team of Mark Millar (Civil War) and John Romita Jr. (World War Hulk) reunite for probably the best new book of the 21st century. This title collects Kick-Ass numbered 1-8.

And the cinematic adaptation! If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like if some fool – and an untrained kinda nerdy high school fool, at that – decides to don a superhero costume and prowl the slimy streets in search of mischief, this’ll be an eye-popper-go and watch it!

The central figure is comic-book-reading 16-year-old Dave Lizewski who does not have a tragic a past, no radioactive insects bites, no exposeure to a magic words and he’s not an orphan from an exploded planet. To quote Miesur Lizewski, his origin is he was bored. But under Mark Millar’s insanity, Dave’s story takes on this dark, outrageous, ultra-violent turn while still staying somewhat in the periphery of what’s real.

This trade collects the first eight issues and welcomes you into an urban bloodbath. Don a wet suit and looking for trouble, odds are you’re gonna end up bumping against some seriously hard MOTH%$FUC*&RS. And when your only super powers are perseverance and some talent for soaking up punishment, you’ll most likely end up hurtin real bad. Dave gets severely pounded his first time going up against some thugs, and then he gets bowled over asss over heel by a hurtling car.

Months of recovery from his injuries, and one would think Dave’s learned his lesson. But then Dave puts on the costume again and resumes his night patrols. And then, while bracing some muggers, Dave becomes an overnight online sensation, the first real-life superhero. The Internet even gives him his superhero code name. And soon other costumed freaks are following in his footsteps, including a badasss ten-year-old girl expertly wielding swords. Go throw your hands in the air for the lethal and potty-mouthed Hit-Girl. And, okay, with Hit-Girl, Millar does wander past what’s believable. But she’s such a cool character that we have to, have to give her a pass.

Despite the Rob Liefeld intro, this trade is a pure awesomeness, but it’s horribly suited for children, nuns, and perhaps Armenians. Profanity and nudity are a healthy presence. Let me say that KICK-ASS is bloody and brutal and subversive and simply in your damn f—– face, and Millar shows you why no one’s actually gotten away with putting on a costume and stomping on amoral lowlifes in real life. Artist John Romita, Jr. comes in with some of his best stuff and there’s even a bit of Frank Miller vibe in his art. Saying that this series is violent is to understate matters, kinda like suggesting that Big Daddy exhibits questionable parenting skills. One may go as far as saying Mark Millar is insane, and I’m sticking to that. But the guy is also a master of his craft, and so we eat up his dish of bloody visceral bombast, and I also relish how Dave and, later, Red Mist go about on their new careers (Meanwhile, Big Daddy & Hit-Girl’s relationship is really too dysfunctional to be relatable). So is this an unflinching, credible look at costumed vigilantes in the real world? Probably more so than not. The dialogue, by the way, rings true, as does Dave Lizewski. And the story is funny as well. Dave Lizewski is a compelling character, and the kid is seriously disturbed. Still doesn’t keep me from saying that his alter ego absolutely friggin’ rules!

KICK-ASS, by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr

KICK-ASS, by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Walter Anderson was considered to be quite an odd person, rowing across twelve miles of open water in a leaky skiff to reach Horn, an uninhabited island without running water or electricity. But this solitary artist didn’t much care what they thought as he spent weeks at a time on his personal paradise, sleeping under his boat, sometimes eating whatever washed ashore, sketching and painting the natural surroundings and the animals that became his friends. Here Walter created some of his most brilliant watercolors, work he kept hidden during his lifetime. In a beautifully crafted picture book biography, writer Hester Bass and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis pay homage to an uncompromising American artist.

This book would make a wonderful addition to any art class, especially the classes that teach that “art is an adventure.” (Ms. Bass’s words.) “The Secret World of Walter Anderson” is just lovely. If you love art, artists, or nature, this book is for you.

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are is one of those rare books (along the lies of Dahl, Dr. Seuss…) that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up.

Max dons his wolf suit in quest of some mischief and gets banished to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows within the confines of his room, allowing his wonderful wild rampage to continue unhindered. Sendak’s color illustrations are blissful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder.

The wild things with their mysteriously mismatched parts and adorable giant eyes manage somehow to be scary-looking without ever really being disconcerting and at times they’re downright hilarious. Sendak’s defiantly run-on sentences lend the perfect touch of stream of consciousness to the tale, which floats between the land of dreams and a child’s imagination.

Children can really identify with Max and his rebellious thoughts. Upon banishment to his room for misbehavior, his imagination helps him to run away to where the wild things are and collect his thoughts. Sendak certainly remember what its like to be a child and feel like no one understands what you are basically feeling, and not quite understanding yourself. Ruling the wild things helps Max understand that he just wants to feel loved, and helps parents to keep in mind that such outbursts from children are essentially cries for attention – for someone to just love them. Mr. Sendak understands children! When you read this book it will transport you back to your own childhood and you will remember that lost feeling of being a child.

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

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The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Jostein Gaarder

I stumbled upon Gaarder’s now famous Sophie’s World years ago at a school book fair. Having made several false starts on it since, I gobbled the book whole in a span of 3 days some months ago.

My second Gaarder find is as delightful as Sophie, if a little less obscure, but not lesser in depth. Gaarder picks up on a fanciful premise, perhaps even one that many false-start writers have briefly indulged in, in cerebral privacy – that of recording every scrap of idea for a story that they chance upon, and supplying inspiration to the content starved writers of the world.

The main character in Gaarder’s novel an immensely clever and intelligent man who picks up on what might seem like a singular disability – the lack of a need to write, and establishes himself in a monopoly of ideas. The Spider is now an eminent figure, if with a vague designation, in a literary tradition that seems to be founded in his own fertile mind. A trader in constant dealing with writers, all such translucent creatures, he seems trained in the art of making pithy comments on the nature of writers – the good, the bad, the average, and the deluded.

However, secrecy, and a finely honed skill for ‘beating about the bush’ are intrinsic to his dealings. This leads to the weaving of a widespread, but fragile web, spun by the monopolistic Spider himself. With the passing of time, his buyers seem to be catching up on him, or is it his own barely leashed imagination? The Spider soon finds he has to spin faster in order to keep himself from getting caught in his own web.

Intertwined within his own life’s tale are a myriad of stories that have twisted into being from his own experiences, unconscious as he is of them. And it is in these scattered clues, in the recalling of his own mosaic life that a narrative begins to emerge.

James Andersson’s translation of Gaarder’s novel is deeply absorbing. Like a thriller, it’s tempting to sprint through it till the end, but it’s worth the reader’s while to remember that The Ringmaster’s Daughter comes from the creator of Sophie’s World – the story is full of barely hidden observations, comparisons, and philosophically inclined comments that need to be “sniffed, chewed, and thoroughly digested.”

Review By Ajooni Singh Chhina
Gooblet – Goobes Book Republic

The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Jostein Gaarder

The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Jostein Gaarder