Review of “Donny and the Doorman’s Nightmare”

Socko! Wham! Gazooks! Immensely imaginative, impressive project. The prose sizzles with sharp diction, successful double entendres, startling images and metaphors. It’s as though Stewart has had a Coleridgean “Kubla Khan” vision produced by William Burroughs, Ionesco of “The Chairs,” Stephen King, plus a multitude of other horror and sci-fi collaborators. I’m not even sure that “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from Fantasia was not also gurgling in his febrile imagination. This reader was dazzled by his pyrotechnics, by his verbal high, ever so high, jinx.

Donny Book 6.0This reader also responded more to the novella format than to the cinematic treatment. Though one might imagine that such a phantasmagoric vision would lend itself more to a movie, for me the written work here is worth more than a thousand pictures. Two cases in point: the movie version of The Naked Lunch was woefully inadequate to Burrough’s novel. I suspect also that a movie version of the “Bloom-in-Nighttown” would pale beside Joyce’s play within “Ulysses” (though Zero Mostel’s off-Broadway production was an actor’s supreme tour de force, a production I was blessed to see). Just too much was lost for me in the translation from novella to cinema… but had I not read the source, I might feel differently.

I am, however, puzzled by Stewart’s statement that “the ideal audience for this young adult novel is boys or girls aged 13-16 years preparing for those first cautious steps into the work place. ” Is he kidding? Kids aged 18-80 would be more appropriate. And what bizarre moralizing! In his abstract, Stewart states that “more than comedy, this is a moralistic tale dealing with work ethics, capitalism, and the American ideal of ‘play now, pay later’.” My aching Irish arse! Is he serious? It’s certainly more than a comedy, but a William Bennet critique of Americana capitalism, a morality play? The detritus, the orgy of American capitalist junk is certainly there, but for me any moralizing is a by-product. More to the point, the metaphors go far beyond any neat moral. Stewart’s project deserves a resounding A.

–Michael Mahon, Thesis Committee (2/5/96)


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