Planet News: The New Real is the Surreal

May 6, 2013

When news stories feel more fictive than real, the surreal horrors of public life call out for playful interventions. Writer Anthony Haden-Guest casts recent news in verse and animates his rhymed renditions of current events.

Do you sometimes feel that the news is getting stranger as it gets more overwhelming, more 24/7 and less reliable? That the line between “reality” and scary potboiler fictions is getting hazier and more slippery day by day? Did you think Homeland had a documentary vibe?

The news in late March and early April was particularly choc-a-bloc with stories in which gray fact seemed suffused with fictional Technicolor. Clearly there was stuff to do here.

Writers have been describing the horrors, large and small, of public life in verse since way before Alexander Pope. Calvin Trillin has been subjecting the U.S. political process to acerbic rhyme since 1990.

I did not invent this wheel but it spins ever faster. I don’t expect to run out of material any time soon.

This piece is a collaboration with Standard Culture, where Anthony Haden-Guest is cartoonist-in-residence, and can be found on their website.