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The Wild Party

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  885 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
"Spiegelman's drawings are like demonic woodcuts: every angle, line, and curve jumps out at you. Stylishness and brutishness are in perfect accord."
-- The New York Times

Art Spiegelman's sinister and witty black-and-white drawings give charged new life to Joseph Moncure March's Wild Party, a lost classic from 1928. The inventive and varied page designs offer perfect counter
Paperback, Illustrated edition, 112 pages
Published March 23rd 1999 by Pantheon (first published 1928)
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Apr 01, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing
OMG people. This book is all nuts and screws. Art Spiegelman illustrates this bit of Speakeasy grit, all told in rhyming couplets. Eighty pages of them. I did not move. I did not pee. I did not do anything but turn each page for two hours until I was through. It makes me wonder the things my grandma has seen that I'll never know about. Reminds me of the time she told me about girls that "went" together. She said, "Now we didn't mean anything by it . . . but we used to call them: queer."

"Good new
Joseph Moncure March's "The Wild Party," first published in 1928, is something of a revelation. Reading this book-length poem is like discovering the well -- or perhaps cesspool is the better word -- from which sprung everything from pre-Hayes Code Hollywood films to the writings of Bukowski and Burroughs. (William S. Burroughs, in fact, acknowledged his debt to "The Wild Party," and March himself later went on to write for the movies.)

The poem teems with drunkenness, gay love triangles, casual
Hip E.
Aug 05, 2008 Hip E. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hip E. by: Art Spiegelman
I learned of this book from an interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on November 29, 1994 (wow, I love the internet). It was night and my family was driving home from Seattle to Portland after Thanksgiving with the grandparents. Spiegelman described how he found the book in a dusty corner of some little bookstore and almost read the whole thing while standing in the shelves. He read some of it on the air. It was gritty and glamorous. I wanted it. It was to become the 2nd book I ever bought for ...more
Sabra Embury
Oct 14, 2010 Sabra Embury rated it really liked it
A friend lent me this poetry book, illustrated by Art Spiegelman, at a party where we played many rounds of exquisite corpse and everyone got drunk off Campari. Tipsy handing it to me after a conversation about graphic novels, she said: this is a naughty book, you'll like it. And she was right. The book's forward, and the forward--also by Spiegelman, goes into how William Burroughs decided to be a writer after reading the Wild Party at Harvard. Considering the characters and content surrounding ...more
Brian DiMattia
Feb 01, 2010 Brian DiMattia rated it really liked it
The poetry itself is decent, but the setting and characters that makeup the story are great. Vicious and entertaining, and Spiegelman did a beautiful job illustrating it. He does everything in a version of his normal work which seems woodblocked, so it has a feeling of being deep and simple at the same time. Good for poetry lovers, great for the more open minded of sequential art readers, and just really, really cool for those who like Jazz Era New York culture and history.
Nancy Siouri
Mar 17, 2014 Nancy Siouri rated it it was amazing
Once you grab it, you just can't stop reading til you reach the last page. And then you start again!
Sep 03, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
‘The wild party’ is a hard boiled Jazz Age tragedy, told as a nursery rhyme.

Queenie was a blonde, and her age stood still,
And she danced twice a day in a vaudeville.

Queenie and Burrs have a violent spat. Then comes along Black an innocent lad. Black falls for Oueenie and they end up in the back room.

Some love is fire: some love is rust:
But the fiercest, cleanest love is lust.

Burrs stagers in and pulls out a gun. Black wrests it, it fires and kills Burrs.

And the cops rushed in.

March improvised hi
Nov 01, 2007 Lauren rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gatsby Lovers
First of all, the book's endpages are red velvet! If nothing else, pick it up to have that experience. I discovered this poem/story randomly as I was browsing over at the Main library here on UGA's campus. Noticing Art Spiegelman's name on it, I immediately placed it in my stack of books. An interesting read although it possesses a very dark and depressing undertone. Ominous. The reader feels & knows that this is a party that is not going to end well. Spiegelman mentions in the introduction ...more
May 10, 2016 Lizzie rated it it was amazing
A narrative poem from 1928 describing a night among louche theater people. It was widely banned but still a big success. It's powerful not just for being daring but also wonderfully written, and I say this as someone who doesn't like poetry much. I can't stop thinking about the ending. Art Spiegelman did expressive illustrations for this 1994 version in a woodcut style reminiscent of Lynd Ward.
Alex Sarll
The poem - a syncopated tale of Jazz Age debauchery - is slight, but pleasant enough for a quick read. The nineties introduction by Art Spiegelman, though, has dated far worse. Remember the End of History? Ha. His illustrations still aren't really my thing, but capture the fleshiness and signs of wear the poem demands.
It's almost impossible to write a proper review for The Wild Party, way too many things to be said. To keep it simple, it's as wild as the title promises (as well as awfully but yet delightfully disturbing and funny)!
May 07, 2016 Rob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Truly a 'lost' classic. This was such a quick fun read and captured the crazy, sultry lifestyle of the Roaring 20's. Definitely had shades of the type of shenanigans that Hemingway described in another classic 'The Sun Also Rises'. I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem.
Bill Fletcher
Aug 31, 2014 Bill Fletcher rated it really liked it
The Spiegelman illustrations are great. The poem, though very much of its age, is very affecting. And very funny in places. My favorite lines:

"His hips were jaunty,
And his gestures too dextrous.
A Versatile lad!
He was ambisextrous."
Sep 26, 2011 Aran rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Interesting. An experience. Also, probably not the best choice for reading on an airplane when passengers beside you might wonder about the dirty pictures in that book you're reading.
Kathleen Stevens
Feb 24, 2015 Kathleen Stevens rated it liked it
A quick read... but as I'm really not fond of graphic novels it wasn't really my style of reading. It was written as a poem... so if you read it out loud some of the scenes make more sense.
Andrea Guerra
Admito que compré este libro sólo porque Art Spiegelman lo ilustró, pero terminó siendo algo que nunca me imaginé, ni siquiera logro clasificar en qué manera me sorprendió.
Sep 15, 2016 Northpapers rated it liked it
The art and packaging are superlative. Spiegelman is a master. Five stars. The poem itself, fun and sleazy and pretty near worthless. I averaged the whole thing out to a really enjoyable three stars.
George Ilsley
Sep 28, 2016 George Ilsley rated it liked it
A dirty limerick from the 1920's.
Jun 15, 2007 Liam rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
From Wikipedia:

The Wild Party, a poem in the classical epic style, is Joseph Moncure March's first published work. Upon its 1928 publication the poem was widely banned, first in Boston, for having content viewed as wild as the titular party...When asked once about March's The Wild Party, the acclaimed writer William Burroughs replied, "It's the book that made me want to be a writer."

I first saw the 1994 version of this epic poem with illustrations by Art Spiegelman. Putting aside for now the iss
Aug 06, 2012 Lacolz rated it it was amazing
Libro que compré primeramente por un mal entendido de la contraportada. Viene una cita de William S. Burroughs: “La fiesta salvaje es el libro que me convirtió en escritor”. Y yo pensé que Burroughs era el escritor del libro. Luego, ya en casa, descubrí que era un comentario de él sobre el libro, que el autor es el juguetón de Joseph Moncure March.

Segunda cosa por la cual lo compré: está ilustrado estupenda y atinadamente por Art Spiegelman. El Spiegy es garantía total, es de los buenos. Tan bu
Sep 25, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
According to the introduction by Art Spiegelman, this is the book that made William Burroughs want to become a writer. It was also written in 1926, when March was 26, and it was "too hot for publication" for two years. When it finally was published, it was banned in Boston.

The first thing I noticed about this "lost classic" when I opened it was the red velvet end-papers. They alone made me want to buy this book.

The writing itself is Jazz Age brilliant. It is a poem -- William Burroughs said it
Dec 29, 2011 Adwoa rated it it was amazing
art spiegelman is an amazing human being. Like him, I have very little time for poetry. But this poem is a riotous riff on the stylishness and slum of the Jazz Age, and his adaptation is a breathtaking gem.

In the author's words, to read the original poem is to come away with "large shards of it lodged in your brain." And that's true. But rather than being spiky, they feel jaunty - pocket change you rattle in your hand while whistling a few bars of a catchy classic.

While most widely known for M
Mar 28, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys poetry that isn't Dicksinson
Recommended to Daniel by: Found it
Shelves: poetry
Years back I happened upon a movie with Raquel Welch and it made an impression on my young mind and I remembered it even after all these years. When I researched it I found out that it was named "The Wild Party"
In my reasearch I learned that it was based loosely on a poem written over 50 years before named the same. Well the movie was forgettable but the poem was fantastic. I finished the poem in an hour; I couldn't stop reading it! March, who later worked for the New Yorker, studied under Frost
Kathy  Petersen
I doubt I would have bothered with The Wild Party but for the production that has been mounted by my favorite local professional musical theatre company. That production, from St. Louis' New Line Theatre, is, like most of New Line's shows, outrageous and fabulously well done. I found the music somewhat cacophonous and the simulated sex annoying - and the actors, their performances, and the intricate choreography totally mesmerizing.

However, this is supposed to be about the book-length poem, not
Tyler Jones
Aug 14, 2014 Tyler Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Normally it does not matter to me which edition of a book you read, but in this case I am reviewing the Art Spiegelman illustrated 1994 reissue - and, even more specifically, the hardcover. The book - the actual physical object, rather than simply the text - is very important in this case.

The text was written by Joseph Moncure March back in the 'twenties. A sensual, hedonistic tale of sensual, hedonistic times. However it cannot be read without Spiegalman's gloriously debauched illustrations. On
Jan 21, 2008 Brad rated it really liked it
A substantial amount of time has passed since I completed a full read of THE WILD PARTY. I admit, my memory of the material has weakened, and only increases so the further I distance myself from the scripture and the closer my appointment with death approaches. There for, I would have to say, it would be unrealistic for me to give it a fair review at this point. However, my recollected feelings towards this literature can, and have been, expressed in my rating of the book. If, by chance, I find ...more
M.L. Rio
Jun 14, 2016 M.L. Rio rated it really liked it
Shelves: cult-classics, poetry
'Wild' really is the world. March's verse swings from long and lyrical to sharp and staccato, almost in imitation of the lurching, drunken movement of his characters. Burrs, Black, Queenie, and Kate (not to mention the rest of the guests, including incestuous brother pianists, an 'ambisextrous' dancer, a predatory middle-aged lesbian, a hard-drinking pugilist, his girlfriend, and her fourteen-year-old sister) are rendered disturbingly lifelike by jarring, colorful, and occasionally disgusting de ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Aaron rated it really liked it
Shelves: verse
What's not to love? In the course of this epic poem, March details an evening full of jazz, sex, violence and general debauchery with a nicely varied cast of generally unsavory types, including Queenie (a blond bombshell off of the Vaudeville stage), Burrs (a misanthropic and belligerent clown, her lover), and Black (a new man on scene, who aims to steal Queenie from Burrs). The new edition (pictured) has illustrations by Art Spiegelman, which are a nice touch. The source material for two fine m ...more
Nov 04, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: boxing fans
Actually reading 1968 Wheelwright publication that includes "The Set-Up" and "A Certain Wildness". "A Certain.." is a wonderful 60 pp memoir of the 20's written in '68 - and he had not lost a bit of his biting humor and wit. "The Set-Up" made into a great boxing movie w/ Robert Ryan - which has almost nothing to do w/ the March's narrative poem. And in 2000 "The Wild Party" turned into a musical by two different groups! You seldom see narrative poems any longer, and it takes awhile to get into t ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Shahd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I found this book one nasty new york summer as I was working on my college campus. I was sent down to pick up copies and I saw that there were stacks upon stacks of books being thrown out to the garbage. I went through them and I picked this book up and, am I glad I looked though those garbage boxes. This is one of my most loved ad enjoyed books. I think I must have read and re-read it like a hundred times and still I like it the same way I did the first time. I love this book a ton. It is funny ...more
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After serving in World War I and graduating from Amherst College (where he was a protégé of Robert Frost), March worked as managing editor for The New Yorker in 1925, and helped create the magazine's "Talk of the Town" front section. After leaving the magazine, March wrote the first of his two important long Jazz Age narrative poems, The Wild Party. Due to its risqué content, this violent story of ...more
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