Madonna & Other Spectacles

Harold Jaffe, Author Not Avail $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55554-025-8
Crackling with rage and black laughter, these 13 short pieces by the author of Beasts wrench themselves out of grimmest fact: genocide, nuclear devastation, black poverty, corporate murder. It's all delivered in pop lingo, with erudite references to Foucault, Levi-Straus and Chomsky, and a frenzied invocation of celebrities and media personalities, their names flung in rough-and-tumble order. ``The Marx Brother'' is Karl, buried, because he was a Jew, in unconsecrated ground in Highgate Cemetery. Japanese tourists photograph the gravestone and the narrator notes that in white South Africa the Japanese are honorary whites. ``Tonto,'' on the other hand, an Indian who isn't an honorary anything anywhere, lives on a big reservation, only an infinitesimal piece of which is being requisitioned to dump toxic waste. It's not that toxic, cajoles the government toady; it brings in steady bucks and sure beats starving. The format changes radically with ``Bomb,'' a blistering expose of the difference between soft and hard porn. The final pages include ``Video/Video.'' a 1984-like scenario of the world after the ``devastation,'' and ``Max Headroom,'' a reworking of the child abuse case that rocked Greenwich Village, brutal conclusion to a collection that confronts terror in street language and redoubles its impact. (June)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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