KRAZY KAT by Say Cantor

KRAZY KAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This second literary exercise contrived by academic Cantor probes pop culture rather than politics, though with the same postmodern pretensions as The Death of Che Guevara (1983). The premise here is simple: George Herriman's justly celebrated comic strip about a literally love-struck cat and a brick-tossing mouse ceased publication in the 40's not because its creator died in 1944, but because the androgynous Krazy Kat sunk into a deep depression--those bricks to the noggin, hurled by Krazy's ""dollink"" Ignatz, no longer did the trick. Confined by thin plots, two dimensions, and a ""never-to-be-resolved courtship,"" Krazy gave up, though Ignatz remained ever-ready. What Cantor conjures up then are five new panels in which the inhabitants of Coconino County, no longer limited by their pictorial incarnations, confront the postwar world in Cantor's self-conscious prose. First, at Los Alamos, they witness ""The Gadget,"" a Rube Goldberg-like device developed by ""fizzyits,"" who were inspired by Krazy's experience of love as pain--a claim made by Iggy, posing as J.R. Oppenatz. When the wily rodent's ruse fails to inspire Krazy's return to work, he submits her to psychoanalysis, a comic-book version of Freudianism recounted in letters to Offissa Pup. Not quite understanding Dr. Ignatz's fractured psychology, Krazy feigns a renewed passion for bricks. Inspired, mouse and cat head to Hollywood in search of the proverbial deal--a high-concept quest that allows for much heavy-handed satire by Cantor. All movie plans are squelched when it's discovered that Hearst, their publisher for 30 years, still owns the rights--a situation Ignatz, now a revolutionary, tries to alter by kidnapping Krazy in a cartoon adaptation of the kidnapping of Hearst's granddaughter. The final panel, a fantasy of life as human beings, finds Krazy and Ignatz acting out a rather dull sex tale in which brick-throwing is replaced by S-M, and in which cat and mouse become a successful musical cabaret act. Cantor barely taps the potential for wordplay in Krazy's ""inimitable patois,"" and--much worse--his humor is all conceptual, worthy of a knowing chuckle at most. Fans of Herriman's ""long lyric delirium of love"" will find this a desecration.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1987
ISBN: 0375713824
Publisher: Knopf