The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March
“The Lost Classic”
“The book that made me want to be a writer.” – William S. Burroughs
The Wild Party is a notorious (banned in Boston) narrative poem written in the mid-1920s and published in 1928 about a pair of hard living theater types, Queenie and Burrs. One day they decide to throw a party for their equally hard living friends. People get drunk. People get fucked. People cry. People fight. One guy gets shot. The cops bust up the place. The party ends. It’s a quick read with a large cast of characters. Some of whom you might even recognize as yourself or your own friends.
“The rest were simply repetitions
of the more notorious. Slim editions:
Less practiced; less hardened:
Less vicious; less strong:
Just a nice crowd trying to get along.”
I think the Spiegelman illustrations make this edition. The book itself is one of those ‘one of a kind cult classics’ like Saki’s “The Unbearable Bassington” that touch you lightly. But that don’t get forgotten even as you wonder if they’re really any good. “The Wild Party” got turned into a musical twice in the same Broadway season a few years back. Certain special people compared the versions, argued about them. Both shows flopped – as has to be the case with something like this – a big successful Broadway show would have killed it.
Agreed. The book is something of a novelty item, though I’m glad I read it. It’s a decent afternoon’s entertainment. Granted, I’d probably scratch my own eyes out before I’d want to see a musical based on this. I suspect no piece of scenery would survive unchewed.
Queenie was a dancer and her age stood still…
What Rick Bowes said – I can’t quite tell if it’s that kind of really great writing that feels effortless, or if it’s actually just kinda bouncy and evocative and drags you along. Still, it’s good to be reminded of this and of Saki this morning. I confess to preferring the latter to Wilde.
Sounds like a decent party, but why wasn’t I invited?