THE CAT'S PAJAMAS & WITCH'S MILK by Peter DeVries

THE CAT'S PAJAMAS & WITCH'S MILK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Our current curios in manners, morals and marriage are anatomized by the wickedly literate wit of one of our few consistently successful (The Tunnel of Love, et al) off-black humorists. In The Cat's Pajamas, DeVries has created a marvelous man for our seasons. Tattersall careens from bad (an instructorship in creative writing) to worst (death as a door-to-door salesman of such novelties as cans of pure air). Tattersall follows the Stanislavski method of assuming identities, insisting on living to the full each diminishing role assumed--ad copy writer, Italian street singer on TV, street peddler, David Harum-esque handyman, triumphant anti-success presiding over a household consisting of an idiot orphan boy and an alcoholic mongrel dog. Tattersall lives till he dies, drunk on words but impotent, not searching for identity but always willing to try a new one. Tattersall is potentially more powerful than the predictable short plot he's given--a current Quixote as verbal as Cyrano. Witch's Milk follows Tillie Shilepsky from her desperate virginity during her early 30's to her seduction by the happily non-intellectual Pete through their marriage and removal to suburbia. Pete's hobby is sex and Tillie's is social climbing. Pete is more successful with his pursuits than Tillie with hers--their suburb is socially controlled by a homosexual interior decorator who finally offers Tillie an escape from Pete after their son dies. It's a corruscating comic delineation of character but not up to the tall tale-spin of exaggeration that characterizes Tattersall--Tillie's been done before, if not as well, but Tattersall's an original and worth the price of the book.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1968
Publisher: Little, Brown