Analysis

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Subtitled “a novel in five panels,” KRAZY KAT returns to Coconino County and its denizens to explain why the strip vanished at the end of World War II. Krazy Kat, the innocent, is suffering brain-dulling depression after witnessing the end product of the “New Clear fizzyits.” Cynical Ignatz Mouse, whose bricks tossed at Krazy’s noggin serve only to endear Kat to Mouse, yearns for the big time--the success enjoyed by those other famous cartoon cats. If Ignatz cannot shame Krazy into working again, he will invent psychoanalysis to create in Krazy a sick soul, the very stuff of high art. This Round, sick soul will crave to be hit again by Ignatz’s bricks.

With the arrival of the Producer, it appears that Krazy’s comeback is imminent. Offissa Pup, ever protective of his beloved Kat, Joe Stork, Kwakk Wakk the duck-gossip, all will play a part in the post-Bomb world-picture, where it is all right to feel guilty, where the distinction between pleasure and pain has been blurred (so bricks feel like valentines)--until it is discovered that the characters do not own the rights to themselves, so no deal is possible. Krazy becomes hostage to Ignatz and the others, who demand their rights from Hearst, but are tricked by the Producer into such outlandish behavior that they become public figures--exploited, forsaken, broke, and very angry.

Fantasy is next from Ignatz. Krazy and her dollin Mouse become Kate and Dr. Ignatz, whose encounters are blushingly sexual. It is in art, not sex, however, that singer Kate and accompanist Ignatz achieve a kind of fusion, a reconciliation of the overtly sexual and the enduringly innocent, of Roundness and Flatness.

Jay Cantor’s KRAZY KAT is full of wit and candor, but a blue streak runs through the latter half of the novel that makes Coconino-ites sound too disturbingly human: In the world of the Bomb, it is enough to give anyone atomic ache.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. LXXXIV, January 15, 1988, p. 827. Boston Review. XIII, February, 1988, p. 30.

Choice. XXV, May, 1988, p. 1398.

Kirkus Reviews. LV, December 1, 1987, p. 1636.

Library Journal. CXIII, January, 1988, p. 97.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. January 10, 1988, p. 3.

The Nation. CCXLVI, May 14, 1988, p. 682.

The New York Times. CXXXVII, January 6, 1988, p. 19.

The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, January 24, 1988, p. 1.

Newsweek. CXI, February 29, 1988, p. 68.

Publishers Weekly. CCXXXII, December 11, 1987, p. 47.

The Village Voice. XXXIII, February 2, 1988, p. 64.

The Washington Post. January 11, 1988, p. B2.