Sunday, February 6, 2022

Review of "Passionella and Other Stories," by Jules Feiffer

Review of

Passionella and Other Stories, by Jules Feiffer

Five out of five stars

Some of the best social satire

 One of the most enduring fairy tales is about the oppressed girl Cinderella. Forced to work herself to exhaustion by her evil step-relatives, through a magical person, Cinderella manages to attract the right man and be uplifted from her life of toil.

 The first and title story in this comic collection is a modification of that story. Ella is a dumpy-looking chimney sweep that works in tall buildings in town. Suddenly, she is told that her job is being automated and she is no longer needed. Desperately hungry, she falls asleep watching late night television. Suddenly, the picture vanishes, and she hears a powerful voice introducing her neighborhood godmother and telling her she will have her most cherished dreams.

 With a plink, plank, plunk, Ella is transformed into a beautiful woman in a flowing gown and a truly massive and pointy bosom. Suddenly, she is in demand as an actress, but only maintains that appearance during the late night show hours. As the story progresses, Ella learns how to manage herself and meets the man of her dreams. It turns out that he is also the beneficiary of a plink, plank, plunk and they fall into each other’s arms as a well matched and quite ordinary couple.

 The next story is a parody of the military mind, where four-year-old Munro is drafted. Despite his protestations and obvious lack of qualifications, the military refuses to discharge him. It is only when he engages in nonstop crying that they suddenly discover the mistake and release him.

The third story is an odd one, George lives on the moon, yet does not need to eat, drink or sleep and needs no space suit in order to survive. With nothing more to do, he moves rocks around. When a rocket is launched from Earth he suddenly becomes a defender against the alien invasion.

 The last story is a parody of international arms races in general and the pursuit of even more powerful nuclear weapons in particular. It ends with the detonation of a bomb so powerful there is nothing of human significance left.

Jules Feiffer is an extremely talented cartoonist. In this book he demonstrates his artistic talents as well as a keen sense of how to ridicule the innate behaviors of humans.

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