Elizabeth Swados Stephen Holden - Essay

Stephen Holden

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Though billed as a "rock-war musical," there's hardly a moment of rock in Elizabeth Swados's adaptation of Michael Herr's Dispatches and only a child's storybook sense of war. One of Herr's triumphs was the invention of an electric-mosaic prose style whose intense emotional cross-currents and streetwise rhythms are the literary equivalent of hard-rock music. Dispatches is a sustained riff on the romance of fear, the pornography of war, and the limits of machismo. Like the greatest rock music, especially the voodoo psychedelic funk of Jimi Hendrix, its mixture of pain, humor, and superstition is as close to unbearable as it is compelling. The book takes off on the McLuhanist assumption that the same...

(The entire section is 421 words.)