- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (February 10, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375713824
- ISBN-13: 978-0375713828
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,533,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Krazy Kat Paperback – February 10, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
After 40 years' absence, Krazy Kat and her cartoon cronies, last seen in George Herriman's famous comic strip, reappear full-blown in this brilliant and powerful consideration of some very current anxieties. Subtitled "A Novel in Five Panels," it is an imaginative tour de force. Krazy was picnicking with her beloved Ignatz Mouse at Alamagordo the day the atom bomb was tested. Witnessing such destructive power shook the Kat's hitherto unshakable innocence; she spiraled into depression and retirement. How could she work when she was no longer even sure that the bricks lobbed daily at her noggin by her mouse were proofs of his love? But if Krazy doesn't work, neither can Offisa Pup, Beau Koo Jack, Mrs. Mice or the other denizens of Coconino County; Ignatz mobilizes all of them in the effort to get their Kat performing again. With themes of love and work in place, it's no surprise that Ignatz first tries the talking cure with Kata problem in a place where neither sex nor death is known. Subsequent attempts to straighten out Krazy are politicala Patty Hearst-type kidnapping/brainwashingand culturala scheme to put them all in the movies. What finally does reconcile Krazy and Ignatz in love and work is a fusion of fantasy and reality that rounds out the metaphor for growing up that Cantor, who also wrote The Death of Che Guevara, has uncovered in Herriman's comic characters. With quirky wordplay, telling misspellings and, finally, plenty of sex and a death, his novel, perhaps slightly uneven and a shade overlong, is unfailingly intelligent, fully felt and tremendously moving.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Cantor's first novel ( The Death of Che Guevara , LJ 11/1/83), was a powerfully imagined portrait of the Latin American revolutionary. Here, he shifts gears, using George Herriman's old comic characters to explore the psychosexual underpinnings of the atomic age and the bomb's effects on personality and culture. Cantor turns the novel's central difficultyhow to create complex characters from cartoon imagesinto its central metaphor, using their two-dimensionality as a reflection of the contemporary psyche. Though the parodies are sometimes strained, Cantor successfully combines social satire and psychological insight into a blackly comic tour-de-force. Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
For those unfamiliar with Krazy Kat the comic strip, this book should definitely be avoided, as it would be like trying to watch a single episode of a serial and understanding instantly what's going on: it just won't happen. You need the history to get the present picture. But for those who dare go in without this familiarity, I offer this brief description: Krazy Kat was a comic strip that ran in the first half of the 20th century. Krazy was the main character, who loved Ignatz the Mouse. Ignatz did not return the feelings, instead choosing to constantly bean Krazy Kat in the head with a brick. But Krazy only thought of this as a sign of affection. The third character was Offisa Pup, who loved Krazy and would run Ignatz off to jail.
It was a simple concept, but brilliantly executed, so through the decades, the strip remained fresh and is considered by some to be the best comic strip ever. In particular, it was a favorite of various big name celebrities such as Walt Disney and Charlie Chaplin. Even now, among its fans, Krazy Kat is considered more than a comic strip. It is considered art.
Cantor's novel focuses on the premise that Krazy and Ignatz viewed the atomic bomb test in 1945 New Mexico. For Krazy, this forced her (Krazy's gender tended to fluctuate in the strip) to accept reality in a way she never had before. Suddenly, the bricks began to hurt. Krazy retires from the strip and becomes something of a recluse. Ignatz, who wants to get back to work, tries to cure her.
The novel is told in five sections: the first section tells of the onset of Krazy's problems. The second section deals with Ignatz's psychoanalysis. The third has them getting involved with motion pictures; the fourth with them joining a revolutionary group and the final one deals with their "romance" in an off-beat manner.
I imagine that this novel would have a very limited appeal. First of all, it would only be read by those familiar with Krazy Kat, but many of those people would be fans and would view this as a desecration of their favorite characters, especially in the last, mildly pornographic portion of the book. So it would only possibly appeal to those who can take the abuse these characters will get. Fan as I am of the strip, I'd still be willing to read something revisionist if it was done well, but here it isn't.
This book, as stated before, is a mess. Cantor, in his attempt to be literary, often fails in his attempt to be readable. This book was a bit of a chore to read, with barely enough quality to merit two stars. The humor is either overly subtle or like that brick to the head. This may be one of those books that gets better the more times it's read, but I don't know if it's worth the effort. My recommendation is to skip this book and buy a collection of the original strips instead (many of which will cost almost the same).
Why do this to "Krazy Kat?" Who can tell from the insipid prose Cantor offers up in this confusing, frustrating novel? Although there were some humorous scenes in the book (notably the image of comic strip characters creating a terrorist organization in order to win the rights to themselves from Hearst), generally the book was weighed down with too much Freud, too much babble, too much abstract.
And it's nothing like the comic strip, "Krazy Kat," which was sparse, mostly silent, and dreamlike. Sure it had surrealistic scenery and an ambiguous plot, but it defied explanation, and that was where its beauty lay. Cantor, apparently oblivious to the strip's finest quality, proceeded to trample over its delicate balance by overanalying.
Don't think. You can only hurt the ballclub.
I hear Jay Cantor's "The Death of Che Guevera" is a good book.