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Death of a Superhero by Anthony McCarten

Death of a Superhero (2007)

by Anthony McCarten

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Donald has cancer. Terminal cancer. And he’s just fourteen years old. He mostly copes with drawing a comic book, filled with evil doctors and bigbreasted vamps, refusing to confront reality. So his parents bring in psychologist Adrian King who tries to crack Donald’s shell. King also struggles with getting through to Donald, at least at first, since Donald is mostly occupied with really wanting to have sex at least once before he dies. But then King hatches a slightly crazy plan.

Death of a Superhero is a book for boys, in the worst sense. And I’m not saying that because it’s a book that features comic talk and superheroes, I’m saying that because it plainly just doesn’t care for the women in it. And that made it really hard to read for me.

Read more on my blog: http://kalafudra.com/2015/09/04/death-of-a-superhero-anthony-mccarten/ ( )
  kalafudra | Sep 14, 2015 |
Absolut erstaunlich, wie es der Autor schafft, einen trotz der Tragik der Geschichte nicht niedergeschlagen zu hinterlassen! Temporeich, witzig und doch tiefgründig! ( )
  khim | Sep 8, 2008 |
Donald Delpe is fourteen years old, and is a fairly typical teenage boy, obsessed with sex, music, making a bit of money - and with comic books, writing and drawing his own. Donald though also has leaukemia, and to his family, he seems to escape into his comic-book world rather than try to deal with the fight he faces in reality, much to their desperation. Convinced that he is simply giving up, they send him to psychologist Adrian King, in an effort to try and get him to act and react more in the way that they think he should be doing - only for King to find himself as much affected by the boy as he tries to draw him out.

Death of a Superhero is told in a mix of standard prose and comicbook/film script, across three acts and an epilogue, with frequent segues from Don's world into the world of his superhero, a character cursed with immortality who always comes back to life no matter what is done to him, who has a penchant for necrophilia, and is locked in combat with the villain of the piece, a nefarious evil doctor named The Glove. As Don's situation worsens, and faced with the prospect that his life will end without him ever having experienced the things in life that he had always hoped and expected to, King is inspired to risk everything to help Donald, with far-reaching consequences for them both.

Donald is an entirely convincing character, both as a teenage boy, and as someone enduring the worst array of horrors modern medicine can chuck in his direction. His story is sad, funny, and ultimately genuinely life-affirming. It does not pull punches in its bleak portrayal of illness but in counterpoint it gives voice, through both Donald and his comic creations, to something deeper, that the novel rides through to its inevitable twin conclusions. Emotional without being trite, powerful without being cliched, an excellent book. I shall need to look out the New Zealander author's earlier works. ( )
2 vote MikeFarquhar | Jul 2, 2007 |
Showing 3 of 3
Fade in ... Donald Delpe. Fourteen years old. A skinny kid, shoulders as meatless as coat-hangers. Queer-looking. No eyebrows, no hair. Face like a peeled potato."

Meet our hero, a bright teenager living in Wellington, with quite a lot going for him except ... Donald and an artillery of drugs are locked in a savage fight against cancer. Which sounds like a hopeless start to a narrative, but Donald is an engaging, credible character — and this is one of the funniest, saddest novels I have read for many months.

It is also written in a completely original format, which flows effortlessly. McCarten combines a straight novelistic format with a scripted text, and the action takes place in three acts. Like a play, when a character speaks, their name precedes the dialogue, which means McCarten can skip between the thoughts of each character with ease.

The scene-setting devices — example: "Int (interior). Oncology Ward/ Hospital. Day" makes the work highly visual.

There is an extra element. Because Donald is an imaginative teenager, and because he has to deal with cancer and potentially death, when the going gets tough he fades the people around him — family, doctors, nurses — into cartoon characters....
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Für meine Söhne
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Aufblende... DONALD DELPE. Vierzehn.
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Inspired by real events, Death of a Superhero is a brilliantly original fusion of novel, comic book, and film script; a celebration of the transience of life, the eternal difficulty of love and a hilarious riff on our 21st-century infatuation with movies and the superhero solution. Donald Delpe is a troubled teenager. Not only is he a "terrible teen" by default, as obsessed with sex, music, videogames, and drugs as the rest of his gang, but he is also suffering from a life-threatening form of leukemia, which makes him an even more difficult boy, both for his parents and his teachers. Escaping into his own comic-book realm of immortal superheroes, ruthless villains and sex-crazed vamps, he repeatedly dashes his family's hopes by refusing to fight the battles facing him in the real world. As famous psychologist Dr. King is brought in to help, a glimmer of hope is rekindled. But will the doctor break the rules, betray the parents' trust, and risk everything to help Donald achieve his greatest wish? Or will Donald be the one to save the doctor?
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Inspired by real events, 'Death of a Superhero' is a fusion of novel, comic book and film script; a celebration of the transience of life, the eternal difficulty of love and a hilarious riff on our 21st century infatuation with movies and the superhero solution. Originally published: 2006.… (more)

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