“Feisengrad” is not a comic book. “Feisengrad” is a novel with pictures every few pages. These pictures do not have speech bubbles or Lichtensteinian explosions with the word “Pow!” written across them.
But despite its 140 pages of text, “Feisengrad,” by Aaron Richard Golub, is a quick read, especially when compared to Joyce or Kant or even the biochem reading you haven’t started, even though your test is on Monday. Kinda perfect for a packed schedule.
The story follows the titular character over his — spoiler alert! — three days of life. Hatched out of an egg on Monday morning, Feisengrad lives in a world called “The Z.” Inhabitants of The Z are referred to as plow7s, creatures that are basically human beings except that they eat by inserting a cassette of one of four vegetables into a slot in their mouths — and, you know, the whole hatching out of an egg thing. Plow7s live under the constant surveillance of the Z Board, a mysterious governmental body whose headquarters are located behind a secret door at the Casa Blanca — a bar that serves only beer (“for pussies”) and 100% alcohol. The three main goals in any plow7’s life are obtaining a job, friends and a girlfriend.
Feisengrad is the only member of this cracked-out society to question the system. He waxes philosophical at times, wondering about his and his world’s very existence — all within the 24 hours of being born.
The novel is a crazy adventure through the subconscious, reflected in Feisengrad’s constant internal monologue. But it’s clever without being too serious; Golub’s incisive descriptions of this nonsensical world — think Lewis Carroll for grownups — lend a sense of irony to the work that will have you laughing out loud as the young hero learns about sex, love and power. At times, the story hits you over the head with its lessons in a way that is somewhat pedantic, but the author’s frank and funny prose helps to diffuse the effect much of the time.
I don’t think anyone at Yale has time to pleasure read these days, especially now that the rosy sheen of shopping period has worn off. But give “Feisengrad” a go, anyway. It doesn’t take long to read and it’s really very funny. And even if it isn’t technically a comic book, it still has pretty pictures.