TANTRUM by Jules Feiffer
Kirkus Star

TANTRUM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A ""novel-in-cartoons""? Well, it's more like a short-story in cartoons, hardly a half-hour's perusal -- but who's counting? This is Feiffer at his loosest and most primal, a manic 8« x 11 explosion that often creeps beyond the rather claustrophobic Feiffer-cartoon pigeon-hole known as Village-Voice Angst. Leo, husband and father and 42 years of age, has had it with adult life (""No danger. No mystery"") -- so he throws a tantrum (""MOMMY!"") and turns into a two-year-old. His wife is unamused: ""Leo, you are having too good a time at your family's expense."" HIS parents don't recognize him, won't take him in. His slick, swinging brother Charlie is preoccupied: ""Leo! Good to see ya! Lookin' good. Lost weight. Got a hair piece."" His sisters are furious: ""We could expect this of Charlie, but you, Leo! Let's not discuss it."" And Leo himself is upset to discover that there's a whole movement of adult-turned-babies: ""This is like a personal reproach . . . I'm part of a goddamned phenomenon! If I could kill them, if I could make them all die . . . I HATE IT!"" So Leo runs away -- to Palm Springs, to Charlie's wife Joyce (Leo's dream girl); but dreamy Joyce is revealed to be a self-annihilating, dieting grotesque (""Leo, if you want to be my friend, help me break myself off at the waist!""). And so it goes, with many of the drawings perfectly capturing the violent scrawl of a stormy infant, as a fast-aging baby Leo (a truly grisly image) finds his primal fantasies unrealizable but still clings to his credo: ""Don't mature! Mature people do the shit work!"" Rude, angry, often ugly, always funny -- and there are moments that, through the fearful clash of childish imagery and middle-age wisdom, achieve a Beckettian bleakness and a horrid beauty.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1979
Publisher: Knopf