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Author: Kit Schluter

Publisher: City Lights Books (2024)

More than simply a book, Cartoons proposes itself as a genre of imaginary writing in opposition to the realism of most contemporary U.S. fiction, aligning itself with the French symbolism and Latin American fabulism its author is known to translate. A giant cricket with a tiny Kit Schluter in a jar, The Girl Who Is a Piece of Paper, an umbrella who confuses the words porpoise and purpose in its quest for self-fulfillment—these are just a few denizens of its pages, suffused with a fairy tale-like animism. A pair of slugs go on a bender. A microwave oven decries microaggressions. A beer bottle is filled with regret. An escalator mechanic’s shoe conceals a terrible secret.

As befits its title, Cartoons defies the laws of physics and fiction alike, eschewing tonal consistency in favor of a simultaneity of joy and horror, ecstasy and disgust, wrapped in an extravagant layer of black humor. The stories blur the boundary between microfiction and poet’s prose, featuring impossible transformations and surrealistic events, even as they wrestle with urgent psychic and moral dilemmas. Heightening the atmosphere of pervasive unreality are a number of drawings by the author, which don’t so much illustrate as parallel the tales with their own fantastic scenarios.