Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring
A fun modern satire mired in white suburbia and art-school pretensions
Reviewed by Sofia Resnick, Fri., Aug. 1, 2008
Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boringby Zach Plague
Featherproof Books, 288 pp., $14.95 (paper)
A tragicomedy. A satire of art-world corruption, drenched in hyperbole and cloaked in the theme of wasted life. All right, groan already, but Zach Plague's Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring is one of the better modern satires I've read in a while, if only because it doesn't pound the reader over and over with a hammer, pestering her to accept some pithy moral. Boring doesn't even appear to have a moral; it's seemingly just a mere distraction from the boring boring – in other words, a fun read.
"Boring boring": That's what Plague's characters call the emptiness in their monotonous, rich, white-suburbia-ish lives, one they perpetually fill with dirty drugs and even dirtier sex. And it's not angst they feel (thank God); they're too bored to be anxious, at least a sober kind of anxious.
Life in Boring revolves around the University of Fine Arts and Academia, a factory posing as an art school. The administrators at Uni-Arts have managed to suck all the creativity, meaning, and beauty out of visual art in order to guarantee all of its students a successful career making money – and lots of it. The talentless louts who inhabit the school produce collages of trash and canvases mounted with feces.
The town is structured as a miniature art kingdom, and it is owned by the Platypus, the story's villain and leader of the White Sodality, an incompetent group of thugs who wear white suits, drive white cars, and do the Platypus' bidding. The Platypus' foil is Ollister, his former student and current threat in the art kingdom. What Ollister lacks in fortunes he makes up for in aesthetics, and thus, he must be destroyed. Ollister's muse, the thorn in his side, is Adelaide, the only other character with true potential, artistic and otherwise. She is the pawn in the antics between the White Sodality and Ollister's ridiculous art terrorists.
And the rest is one absurd plot twist after another, a tie-dyed spiral of schemes, porn, and drug-induced insanity. It's all pretty funny – a hearty jab at the nature of art school that's much less inside-jokey than Daniel Clowes' middle finger to art school, 2006's Art School Confidential. And though Boring's style and theme make it easily likened to Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (actually, Boring reads more like a play than a novel), its made-up slang, depraved characters, and sour ending bring it closer to A Clockwork Orange.
An art piece in itself, Boring is a hybrid of discrete formats and fonts, typos, and illustrations, which provide needed breaks in a twisty tale that, at times, can be a little boring boring.