WHY, WHY, WHY? by Quim Monzó

WHY, WHY, WHY?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Catalan writer's stories abound with unexpected allusions to fables, celebrities, and the absurdities of existence.

What happens when fate develops a strange—and possibly cruel—sense of humor? Several of the characters in Monzó’s (A Thousand Morons, 2013, etc.) collection discover the results for good and for ill. Notable among them is the protagonist of “Trojan Euphoria,” who, over the course of the tale, loses his arm, his job, and his home, eventually dying while attempting a heroic act that ends on a bleak punchline. Trujillo, the protagonist of “Instability,” makes a series of decisions to prevent his car stereo from being stolen, setting in motion events that lead to the death of his neighbor and his unexpected marriage. And the protagonist of “Half-Twelvish” descends into a philosophical quandary when he learns that the woman he's been dating has been dead for months—maybe. Monzó also displays a fondness for alluding to myths and fables. The group of stories that closes the collection includes a reimagining of “Cinderella” and the tale of a prince searching for a frog to kiss. Early on in the book, Monzó satirizes the notion of the awful male genius in “Pygmalion,” revisiting both mythology and misogyny along the way. Most of these stories are complete in a handful of pages, and Monzó neatly blends concision with a penchant for absurdity. The original Catalan version of this collection was published in the 1990s, and a handful of its celebrity references could feel dated for some readers—but that's hardly overwhelming. And grand themes of fate, existence, and human connection are never far from the action.

Monzó blends verve and precision in these stories while also posing bold philosophical questions.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-948830-04-1
Page count: 119pp
Publisher: Open Letter
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019




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