Because the novel is multi-generic, combining poetry, folk literature and social and political commentaries, aspects indicative of both postmodern fragmentation and absurdist techniques, its reviewers describe the novel differently.
However, an analysis of Castillo's use of language, characterization, and plot reveals that she combines the aesthetics of the absurd with a postmodern pastiche of genres to produce the first absurdist Chicana novel.
The practice of using absurdist techniques began during the sixties, a period that Charles B.
Abandoning Aristotelian logic, absurdist novelists use what John Aldridge terms "a new set of filters" to deal effectively with the "chaotic multiplicity of meaning, mass complications and ambiguities .
She uses parody, allegory, black comedy, tragic farce, poetry and Heloise-type advice for women in order to mimic the absurdist vision.
When the narrative voice of the novel quickly establishes the conflicts and ensuing tensions with its ironic, busy-body absurdist attitude, it also becomes the vehicle that recombines values and generic codes.
In absurdist fashion, Castillo's mitotera narrates the women's stories by combining burlesque and black humor in theatrical incidents.
"The absurdist response," says Dietz, "is really a way of breaking through the numbness for these characters: They are determined to be romantics in a depressing age.
Carl and Jody forge their way through our postmodern and plague-ridden world, experiencing by turns bouts of terror, oases of tenderness and--in Carl's words--"a tidal wave of boredom." The play's absurdist logic seems to make sense to audiences at resident theatres around the country, where it has been enthusiastically received.
Reluctant to call himself an "absurdist" (as, incidentally, were Ionesco, Beckett, Pinter, et al.), Dietz believes that Lonely Planet, "like Ionesco's plays, keeps one foot in the real world and one in the absurd." However, as in his newest play Handing Down the Names, he plans to keep "writing about tragic events from a comedic standpoint.
Nicky Silver, on the other hand, has no problem with the label "absurdist playwright"--"I prefer it to, say, 'fat playwright,'" he reasons.
In fact, homespun "family values" came under absurdist scrutiny by a number of playwrights last season.
These days, Silver is also counting the numerous stagings around the country of his plays, which boast such evocative titles as Wanking 'Tards, My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine and the oft-produced Fat Men in Skirts--"which deals with cannibalization and is even more absurdist than Pterodactyls," Silver volunteers.
IVES INSISTS THAT THE ABSURDIST influence is a matter more alphabetical than theoretical: "Ionesco' comes right before 'Ives' on the library shelf, so I would be lying if I said I was unaware of the playwright." But eventually he admits some affinity for the style, reflecting that there may be some absurd causal continuity (rather than contiguity) for its reappearance on the American stage.