A cautionary fable on the banality of belligerence.
Fausto—dapper, balding, and tanned (but presenting white)—believes he owns everything and sets out to prove it. “You are mine,” he declares to everything he meets, from a flower to a mountain, compelling increasingly reluctant submission by yelling, clenching his fist, and stomping. Only the sea denies him, asking how he could own anything he doesn’t even love, and inviting Fausto to make good on his angry threat to show it who’s boss. Trying to stomp on the sea (combined with an inability to swim) ends predictably for Fausto…whereupon all of the overgrown toddler’s “possessions” go on about their business, indifferent to his fate. With typically measured minimalism Jeffers relates this timely episode in prose and gestural images so spare that they frequently give way to single lines and even blank pages. In place of an explicit moral, he closes with an anecdote from Kurt Vonnegut, who quotes fellow writer Joseph Heller’s insight that “the knowledge that I’ve got enough” gave him a leg up over any billionaire. Even readers too young or unschooled to catch the reference in the title character’s name will chime in on Vonnegut’s summation: “Not bad! Rest in peace!”
Whether aimed at certain public figures or all of us, a pointed suggestion that tantrums bring but temporary, superficial rewards. (Picture book. 7-adult)