Consenting Adults (Magill's Literary Annual 1981)
Although Peter De Vries is known as a humorist and punster, in his twenty books he has struggled with some of the fundamental questions which every thinking human being must ask on the way from bassinet to oblivion. Although his vehicle often is laughter, in books such as The Mackerel Plaza, The Cat’s Pajamas and Witch’s Milk, and Mrs. Wallop, he has looked into the face of death, analyzed the shapes of love, discussed religion and theology, and let his characters try to discover the meaning of this pilgrimage across a spinning globe circling a minor star in a minor constellation.
In his latest pun-filled fiction, De Vries openly confronts these heavy issues, lifting them with his humor and evocative style to the realm of high comedy. Ted Peachum, the protagonist of Consenting Adults, needs to know why he lives, why the world exists, and what he is going to do about it. His explorations, both intellectual and philosophical, and united with a vigorous sexual exploration, carry him through a typically surreal De Vries landscape.
Peter De Vries always has created his own world in his fiction, as if he is examining life on another planet. With this book, he plunges down the rabbit hole (or through the looking glass), admittedly taking his cue from Lewis Carroll by subtitling his novel with a paraphrase from...
(The entire section is 2066 words.)
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