Black Scat Books is proud to add D. Harlan Wilson to its list of luminaries. This is the renegade author’s first collection of plays, and it’s guaranteed to provoke standing ovations — or perhaps we should say “fistfights in the orchestra” as Jarry’s Ubu Roi did so long, long ago.
Over the last two decades, D. Harlan Wilson has established himself as a writer of avant-garde fiction that has been called many names, ranging from speculative, literary and postmodern to irreal, bizarro, absurdist and “splatter-schtick.” Some say he defies categorization and is a genre unto himself. In THREE PLAYS, Wilson subverts traditional forms of stagecraft, unmans the helm of narrative, and exposes the nightmares that distinguish everyday life in urban and suburban America. Channeling Samuel Beckett and Jon Fosse in one scene, Russell Edson and Alfred Jarry in the next, he subjects actors as much as audiences and readers to mindless violence and torrid irrationality under the auspices of literary theory, psychoanalysis, philosophy and science. These plays belong more to an ultramodern zoo than a modern-day theater. In “The Triangulated Diner,” a Camero fishtails across the stage and runs over actors as jungle animals attack the audience. An elephant is hung onstage by a crane for stomping on the head of an abusive handler in “The Dark Hypotenuse.” “Primacy” finds a husband and wife struggling to write the perfect obituary, ideally one that includes wuxia death matches and flying holy men . . . This collection describes a microcosm that is at once uncanny and familiar, weird and ordinary, comedic and horrific. Wilson puts the human condition on trial and challenges us to view theatrics in a different light.