Brian Gage | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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Satirist Brian Gage--who once described himself as Luke Skywalker to Noam Chomsky's Yoda--and illustrator Tom Ellsworth just released The Amazing Snox Box (Soft Skull), the second of their collaborative "children's books for adults." Like their first, Snark Inc.: A Corporate Fable, Snox seems written for overeducated and underpaid office, service, and media workers who lack the patience for Chomsky's abstract analysis of the gloom they experience viscerally. Snark overcame the potential shrillness of its anticonsumerist message through Ellsworth's graceful, cartoony illustrations and a fun verse style Gage skillfully swiped from Dr. Seuss, and though thin on plot, the story took a charged turn at the end: where the boy hero of Seuss's Lorax gets a chance to make amends, the hapless office drone of Snark is left to despair. Snox takes on another familiar villain--the boob tube as opiate--in similar style, but its subtler narrative packs more twists into fewer pages, and the book's somber hues are given slick depth thanks to the addition of colorist Robert Park. Both Snark and Snox read more like requiems for civilization than warnings. But Gage's first book for children, due out this fall, should be a sort of Truffula Seed of hope to pass on to the young 'uns. Gage will read from and sign copies of The Amazing Snox Box at 2 on Saturday, August 2, at Quimby's, 1854 W. North; 773-342-0910.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ashley Fontenot.

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