Friday, April 3, 2020

Review: P.S. Your Cat Is Dead by James Kirkwood

When it rains it pours. But it has probably never poured on you quite as much as it is pouring on Jimmy Zoole in James Kirkwood's novel P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. Jimmy's best friend died completely unexpectedly a couple of months prior to the opening of the book. Then in the space of a few hours, he loses the acting job he has lined up, his girlfriend dumps him for another guy, he gets another notice that he needs to move out of his rickety apartment building as it's being sold, he discovers a robber in his apartment for the third time in a few months, and, oh yeah, the vet called and his cat has died. If you think this couldn't get any more bizarre, you would be wrong. Jimmy beats the robber unconscious (well, the robber hits his head and gets knocked out while being beaten but basically the same thing) and ties him to the kitchen island sink. Once our thief Vito regains consciousness, he and Jimmy start to talk, covering things like the train wreck of Jimmy's life, his rich and possessive aunt, Jimmy's lost manuscript that Vito stole during the previous burglary, Vito's marriage and child and his affair with a well known actor Jimmy knew, Vito's tales of hustling, and more. It is the strangest New Year's Eve ever.

There isn't much action in the plot as it is dominated by Jimmy and Vito's discussions although there are a few interruptions to the talking and pot smoking pot when Jimmy's ex-girlfriend arrives with her new boyfriend to collect her things thinking Jimmy's out for the night and when the fellow actor Jimmy calls arrives with friends dressed up in all their campy glory primed for a very strange, BDSM kind of night indeed. These absurd interruptions to the main (non)action don't make the novel more appealing though. Jimmy swings from even tempered to angry to resigned in arcs that clearly belong on the stage. And the book as a whole feels more like a script than a novel.  It desperately needs the dynamism of actors to bring it to life in a way that it doesn't show on the page. It is therefore not surprising to learn that this was adapted from the original script rather than written first. It comes across as a dated and rather tedious, long therapy session, which is saying something when much of the action takes place with a half naked man tied up and sprawled across a sink. The homoeroticism is clearly on display but I somehow missed the eccentric and funny bits that others apparently find in it. I kept expecting to see "Exit stage left" in the text and while that never appeared overtly, it was there in the action often. I have to believe that this lost a lot in the translation from stage to page but it just wasn't a very enjoyable reading experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts