Backing up a few years “ from college to high school “ John Barnes’ “Tales of the Madman Underground” follows Karl Shoemaker just trying to make it through his senior year.
Things are pretty bleak for Karl, but you get the sense early on that things have always been pretty bleak. His dad died when he was young, and his mom reacted by dying her hair, throwing a party and starting to use terms like “transition” “ as in, “It’s been seven months since your father made the transition.”
From that point on, when he loses one parent to death and another to the lures of being a partying, crazy cat lady without much use for household chores, Karl is on his own.
“Tales of the Madman Underground” is told is six parts that cover one week in September 1973. Told through Karl’s flippant, sarcastic, sometimes caustic voice, “Tales” makes you root for a kid who’s been dealt one hell of a poor hand and who, despite all this, is still a good person who wants to make something of himself.
“Jenny Coon Peterson