Microreview: Monica Youn, Ignatz
January 1, 2011
Jan 1, 2011
1 Min read time
Humor and love act like cat and mouse in this collection.
by Monica Youn,
Four Way Books, $15.95 (paper)
Monica Youn’s second collection is tied together by the world of Krazy Kat, a comic strip that spanned both World Wars as it serialized the unrequited love of Krazy Kat for Ignatz, an enraged mouse who ended most strips by chucking a brick at the forlorn Kat. The comic’s endless repetition of this formula—ardor, disgust, brick—gives Youn the license and confidence to enter the endlessly repeating world of the love poem, a license she uses to mix generic expressions of desire—“She thought to brush her hand against his thigh. / She thought to trace the seam of his jeans with her thumbnail”—with those inspired by the comic strip’s surreal southwestern landscapes. The latter find Youn at her best, as do her brief, elegant sketches of the motions and countermotions of the book’s sweet-cruel affection: “O my dear devoir / O my dour devour.” The sense of lightness and play is just a shell in Ignatz, and Youn drills through it until the characters achieve the gravity of real life and the dimensionality of real bodies. There are no glib, one-off jokes in this collection: “running from Ignatz and the night / like a drumskin and her heart like someone // locked in the trunk of a car and if there were / only time god she would spit it out.” Even so, there is a charge of sheer pleasure—that of poetry, not comedy—when the narrative hits its apex, and our constant, cyclical pursuit hangs exposed, crystallized: “Her head / reared back // in an animal / posture—// Ignatz / as always // obliged.”
While we have you...
...we need your help. You might have noticed the absence of paywalls at Boston Review. We are committed to staying free for all our readers. Now we are going one step further to become completely ad-free. This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry. It also means that we count on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, help us keep it free for everyone by making a donation. No amount is too small. You will be helping us cultivate a public sphere that honors pluralism of thought for a diverse and discerning public.
January 01, 2011
1 Min read time