Tales of the Madman Underground Review

Staff Writer, Theresa Wagner critiques the novel Tales of the Madman Underground.

By Theresa Wagner (Previous Staff Writer) on Friday January 25, 2013

Size: A A A

By Theresa Wagner | Staff Writer

madman-underground-1x8i1e5January 25, 2012

Coming-of-age stories have had their spotlight bulb polished to a fair shine by the success of young adult novelist John Green, as well as the publicity granted from the recent stretching of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower to the big screen.

With this near plethora of easily found, quality books from the same genre dutifully read and effortlessly enjoyed, I was quite looking forward to a good mystery or perhaps one of those wonderfully twisted texts of which the reader has little hope of even pinpointing the genre, let alone beginning to understand.

Instead, through a series of events not worthy of explanation, I was stuck reading The Tales of a Madman Underground by John Barnes, the coming-of-age story of Karl Shoemaker, a high school student in the early 1970s.

The small Ohio town where the teen resides is dwindling to extinction, but that hasn’t stopped the local high school from having a therapy group to flaunt their alleged acceptance of mental illnesses.

Predictably enough, getting a “ticket” to the weekly meetings intrinsically ostracizes the recipient; thus, Karl–it being his senior year and all–has one mission: to be normal.

There are many issues with this young lad’s plan, the foremost being that his friends are the therapy kids, or, as dubbed by his best buddy Paul, the “Madmen.”

Perhaps this wouldn’t have been a problem if the parents within this novel did an adequate job when caring for their children.

Rather, Karl, already juggling five jobs and an alcoholic mother who hoards cats and is trying to steal his cash, has to keep bailing his friends out of situations brought by circumstances just as bad, if not worse, than his own.

All of this is portrayed through the humorous first person narration of a realistic high school-aged character with unique, equally believable friends.

Karl’s loyalty and other honorable traits are evened out by his propensity for blind fits of anger and his recovering alcoholism.

This leads to a credible conclusion that helps Karl, as well as a potential aid to many of the Madmen’s trouble. The novel closes with a touching scene sure to be looked back on by all the involved characters with heartfelt nostalgia.

All in all, Tales of the Madman Underground was a surprising and more than satisfying read with its only noteworthy fault being perhaps overextending the freedom of the first person narration to the point where, even if obviously deliberate, some sentences required rereading to fully comprehend.

I would suggest this book highly, especially to fans of Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story and John Green’s Paper Towns.

Theresa Wagner (1)

Previous Staff Writer - twagner16@dpnews.org

Nobody's commented yet on Tales of the Madman Underground Review:

Leave a Comment

Please complete all available fields. Your email address will not be published, although it may be used by our avatar service to display an image.


three × = nine

All comments are subject to our comment policy.

Click here to show more articles.
Click here to hide the articles.
Photo Gallery: Shred Everything!

Photo Gallery: Shred Everything!

Skating and BMXing push local teens to their limits - learn the lingo, see the tricks

Dos Pueblos hosts Noche al Colegio

Dos Pueblos hosts Noche al Colegio

DP's first college night in Spanish took place Oct. 14

DPEA Students Program MappApp in 54-hour Google Competition

DPEA Students Program MappApp in 54-hour Google Competition

Engineering students Spencer Mullanix, Landon Brand, Zachary Zeeman, Courtney Miller and Kenyon Prator and DPEA alum Reed Mullanix won the Best Minimum Viable Product award for their efforts.

Woodshop Classes Embark on House-building Project “Tiny”

Woodshop Classes Embark on House-building Project “Tiny”

The documentary-inspired house will be built on a trailer and sold, with proceeds to benefit SBUSD woodshop programs

Video: Mason, DP Teacher, Wins Distinguished Mentor Award

Video: Mason, DP Teacher, Wins Distinguished Mentor Award

The award, one of three, was provided by the Santa Barbara County Education office for Mason's role in mentoring current and former students (some now teachers.)

New Locker Rooms Bring Changes in Physical Education Classes

New Locker Rooms Bring Changes in Physical Education Classes

New locker and shower facilities are ready for use, allowing PE classes to intensify.

Colleges Compete for Senior Soccer Player Julio Rubio

Colleges Compete for Senior Soccer Player Julio Rubio

Five top-notch schools competed for Dos Pueblos senior Julio Rubio after he helped Santa Barbara Soccer Club win 18 games in multiple tournaments to be crowned national champions last summer.

Charger Athletes Face Health Risks

Charger Athletes Face Health Risks

Student athletes face dangerous consequences due to concussions

Rocket Fizz: Home to Stalinade and Squirrel Underwear

Rocket Fizz: Home to Stalinade and Squirrel Underwear

Bizarre sodas. Candy from another generation. Humorous signs hanging the walls. What more is there to ask for?

Sports Round-up: Week of 11/09 to 11/15

Sports Round-up: Week of 11/09 to 11/15

Cross Country moves on in CIF Southern Section | Boys Water Polo ends season after win on Thursday

Nightcrawler: Sociopathy at its Most Thrilling

Nightcrawler: Sociopathy at its Most Thrilling

Image courtesy of Open Road Films “Nightcrawler” follows the story of the deceptive Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s isolated, unemployed and willing to do just about anything to survive. While hunting for a job, Bloom finds excitement and cash by videotaping accidents and crime scenes for a local news station. Bloom puts his […]

Student Senate Debates Feasibility of Campus Renovation Plans

Student Senate Debates Feasibility of Campus Renovation Plans

Proposed plan includes a relocated Greek Theater and two stories

DP Students Think Pink

DP Students Think Pink

Bella Darke and Veronika Gulvin hosted a month-long card-signing event in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

DP Mock Trial Wins First Place at The Beach Ball Classic Tournament

DP Mock Trial Wins First Place at The Beach Ball Classic Tournament

Dos Pueblos Mock Trial Team Dos Pueblos’ varsity Mock Trial team scored a first-place victory at the inaugural Orange County Beach Ball Classic Tournament. DP competed against California’s top Mock Trial teams and successfully came out on top. Justin Bernstein, the president of the American Mock Trial Association, hosted the tournament at the University of […]

Recognizing DP’s National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Recognizing DP’s National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Nine of the 10 National Merit Program semifinalists in the Santa Barbara Unified School District are Dos Pueblos students.

The creation of a surreal world in “Alice in Wonderland”

The creation of a surreal world in “Alice in Wonderland”

The Dos Pueblos Theatre Company's fall production adapts story in "unique, fun and interesting way"

Remembering Sam Shapiro

Remembering Sam Shapiro

Family, friends and teachers remember Charger Sam Shapiro, who passed away last November

New Teacher: Katie Tullsen, Well-Traveled Hiker

New Teacher: Katie Tullsen, Well-Traveled Hiker

Freshman English teacher Katie Tullsen is one of 18 new teachers at Dos Pueblos. Tullsen was a student teacher for Monica Kaplan last year from October to June.

Charger Spotlight: Jasmin Carrillo, Female Football Player

Charger Spotlight: Jasmin Carrillo, Female Football Player

If you walk onto Dos Pueblos’ football field after school, you wouldn’t really see anything out of the ordinary: off-season track practice, kids hanging out under the bleachers, and the junior varsity football team charging across the field. Nothing seems amiss until the person wearing jersey 66 takes off her helmet, revealing herself as sophomore Jasmin Carrillo, DP’s female football player.

Food Review: Miso Hungry satisfies

Food Review: Miso Hungry satisfies

Burrito-sized sushi is on the menu of the new Japanese restaurant Miso Hungry

Photo of the Day: The DP Polling Station

Photo of the Day: The DP Polling Station

A view of the midterm election polling station set up in the lobby of Dos Pueblos' Elings Performing Arts Center to serve the community.

Capps & Mitchum: What They Stand For, Why You Should Care

Capps & Mitchum: What They Stand For, Why You Should Care

Comprehensive student-conducted interviews with the two candidates for the 24th district seat in the House of Representatives

Sports Roundup: Week of 10/19 to 10/25

Sports Roundup: Week of 10/19 to 10/25

Winter sports tryouts schedule | Girls golf wins Channel League Champions | Boys water polo wins vs. Buena, loses vs. SB | Football loses vs. SM | Girls tennis two losses | Cross country JV boys take second | Girls volleyball loses vs. SM

Little Theater Renovation to Engineering Design Lab Complete

Little Theater Renovation to Engineering Design Lab Complete

P-1 has been transformed into additional space for engineering design and manufacturing, primarily for the DPEA’s new mechatronics project.

SM Defeats DP 27-10 in “Battle of the Goodland”

SM Defeats DP 27-10 in “Battle of the Goodland”

Chargers' Oct. 24 loss at San Marcos marks penultimate game of varsity football season

Online Chinese Now Recognized by UCs

Online Chinese Now Recognized by UCs

A screenshot from proxlearn.com This year, Dos Pueblos’ online Chinese class will count as an A-G approved course. Last year, a mishap caused participating students to miss out on the credit they were promised. “The company that we contracted with (mylanguage360) had been approved, and had gone through staffing changes,” said Susie Stone, a counselor […]

Screenwriter Ed Solomon Skypes Creative Studies Class

Screenwriter Ed Solomon Skypes Creative Studies Class

Screenwriter Ed Solomon Skype called his friend Clark Sayre’s creative studies class on September 26. Solomon’s screenplays include Bill and Ted‘s Excellent Adventure, Men in Black, Charlie’s Angels and Now You See Me. He is currently writing Now You See Me 2, Bill and Ted 3 and Venom, the story of Spider Man’s archenemy. During […]

Senior Lip Dub to Show in the EPAC

Senior Lip Dub to Show in the EPAC

The final cut of the Senior Lip Dub will be showing Thursday, Oct. 23 at lunch in the Elings Performing Arts Center. The senior song and graduation song for the class of 2015 will also be announced.

Photo Gallery: Homecoming Football Game

Photo Gallery: Homecoming Football Game

DP played the Buena Bulldogs, and senior Natalie Klapp crowned Homecoming Queen

New School-wide, Digital Live Signage to be Released Soon

New School-wide, Digital Live Signage to be Released Soon

The leadership class of 2015 is working on hooking up all the Apple TVs on campus with new software that would allow the creation of a Dos Pueblos-specific digital sign. John Dent, the advisor for the project, said in an email that “It is our hope to have a variety of layouts including the daily […]

Video, Photo Gallery: All-School Lip Dub Released Online

Video, Photo Gallery: All-School Lip Dub Released Online

Dos Pueblos' rowdy rendition of "Be True to Your School" is in the running for a $25,000 prize for the best lip dub video in the country in Macy’s $50,000 All-School Lip Dub Challenge

DP Loses to SB in a Heartbreaker, 28-21 (F/OT)

DP Loses to SB in a Heartbreaker, 28-21 (F/OT)

Dos Pueblos' varsity football team comes close in Oct. 17 home game

Sports Roundup: Weekly Competition Summary for DP Athletics

Sports Roundup: Weekly Competition Summary for DP Athletics

Scores and summaries for the week of Oct. 5-11 from football, girls golf, boys water polo, girls tennis, cross country and girls volleyball.

Photo of the Day: Senior Lip Dub

Photo of the Day: Senior Lip Dub

Students dancing in the Greek during the senior lip dub. The senior lip dub took place during third and fourth periods on Wednesday, after the other senior activities. (Photo | Michael Aling)

Photo of the Day: Homecoming Princes

Photo of the Day: Homecoming Princes

The Homecoming Princesses of 2014-2015

The Homecoming Princesses of 2014-2015

Tonight, Friday Oct. 10, Dos Pueblos will be announcing its homecoming queen at the traditional Homecoming football game. From academic course work to personality, the princesses are all diverse and bright. Madison “Mad-Dawg” Buie plays varsity softball and is the ASB Historian. After school, Buie occupies herself by working at Maravilla, a local senior living […]

DP Community Mourns Loss of “Samo”

DP Community Mourns Loss of “Samo”

Friends remember Sam "Samo" Osterhage after he lost the battle with a heart virus last month.

Charger Spotlight: Aidan “Rowdy” Rouzer runs the team

Charger Spotlight: Aidan “Rowdy” Rouzer runs the team

Rouzer is a vital part of DP's varsity football team as assistant team manager

Rep. Lois Capps Visits Dos Pueblos in the EPAC

Rep. Lois Capps Visits Dos Pueblos in the EPAC

Congresswoman of the 24th district discusses her platform, campaign and the importance of student involvement in politics

Photo Gallery: Breaking Tempo rocks in the Greek

Photo Gallery: Breaking Tempo rocks in the Greek

Interview with LA-based band Breaking Tempo, and photo gallery of their performance

Eight DP seniors win prestigious NHRP Award

Eight DP seniors win prestigious NHRP Award

Eight Dos Pueblos seniors received awards from the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) for exceptional academic success in both their PSAT scores and GPA.

New Coaches Leading Cross to Perform

New Coaches Leading Cross to Perform

Triathlete cross country coaches bring new, younger game to the table

Diving into Creativity

Diving into Creativity

There’s a new way to be creative this year at Dos Pueblos. Theatre director Clark Sayre has designed a class to help students explore their creative potential: Creative Studies. “This class offers the students a chance to explore their own creativity and also learn about the creative areas that they hadn’t even thought to explore,” […]

PTSA to screen “Race to Nowhere” documentary

PTSA to screen “Race to Nowhere” documentary

Film will be shown Monday, Oct. 7 in the EPAC

DP Ranks Among Top Schools in the West

DP Ranks Among Top Schools in the West

Screenshot from the Daily Beast In late August, The Daily Beast, a Newsweek publication, released its list of the best high schools from around the country. Dos Pueblos was not only among them, but was ranked 21st in the West–which included all of the West Coast, as well as Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and […]

AP Physics Becomes Two-Year Course

AP Physics Becomes Two-Year Course

Students will now take two years of physics for one year of college credit - an international change by the College Board

Photo Gallery: Newbury Park Beats Dos Pueblos, 51-0

Photo Gallery: Newbury Park Beats Dos Pueblos, 51-0

Chargers and Panthers in Sept. 19 home game

Freshman Political Candidates Vie for Office

Freshman Political Candidates Vie for Office

Monday saw the beginning of freshman campaign season at DP - ten candidates are in the races, with Jack Sipes and Zoe Lee-Park contesting the presidency

The Goleta Lemon Festival Back for this Weekend

The Goleta Lemon Festival Back for this Weekend

It’s almost the beginning of fall, and the 23rd annual Lemon Festival is here with its usual exciting events. The Lemon Festival, which started on Saturday Sept. 20, will continue Sunday Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Girsch Park, which is located immediately behind Costco. It is chiefly sponsored by MarBorg Industries, […]

Newbury Park’s Defense Suffocates Dos Pueblos

Newbury Park’s Defense Suffocates Dos Pueblos

The visiting Panthers roll to victory, 51-0

Photo Gallery: College Night

Photo Gallery: College Night

September tenth’s annual College Night proved to be a full-house success, the EPAC filled with prospective students and families eager to hear university and college representatives discuss the pursuit of higher education. The presentation was an informative crash course in everything involved in going to college. “College Night brings new information and exposure to new […]

Roberts Leads DP in Rout of Santa Ynez

Roberts Leads DP in Rout of Santa Ynez

In his second ever varsity start, sophomore quarterback Kellen Roberts had a career night, leading Dos Pueblos to a 48-20 blowout win over Santa Ynez.

DP’s New Schedule – Think you know all there is?

DP’s New Schedule – Think you know all there is?

What prompted the move, and what students and staff are doing with the new state of affairs

Chargers’ Football Comeback Falls Just Short

Chargers’ Football Comeback Falls Just Short

Pacifica's Tritons held on to prevail 20-14 in what was both teams' opening game.

Photo Gallery: Roller Coaster Cheer and Teacher ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Photo Gallery: Roller Coaster Cheer and Teacher ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

DP students, teachers and staff exercise school spirit during Aug. 28 seminar period

Go to the archives.