Bred from the Eyes of a Wolf

Kim Kyung Ju, trans. from the Korean by Jake Levine. Plays Inverse, $12.95 trade paper (118p) ISBN 978-0-9997247-4-3
In this oedipal verse-drama, Kim (I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World) spins a post-apocalyptic parable, by turns gleeful and grim, about what humankind owes economically and emotionally. In the years after a nuclear apocalypse, an ambiguous human-wolf pair called only “Mom” and “Son” fight about finances, etiquette, and peculiar bodily issues. Their particular and strange moral orientations surprise, as when Mom says, “Now that you’ve been out there, in the world,/ you’ve learned how to breathe/ through your asshole.” The pair’s various schemes include dark plans to sell babies as taxidermy, as well as a surprisingly poignant wish to make taxidermied snow. In the third and final act, the major relationship between Mom and Son recalibrates around a third character, Son’s companion “Woman,” suggesting a repeating landscape of such relationships. This helps ground the characters, who can feel largely archetypal. At its best, the tone here is equal parts despairing and enterprising, fated and rebellious: “If you’re here to strangle me/ and steal my money again, it’d be better to give up right now./ I’m broke.” Kim’s work may not be as intensely shocking as intended, but his grotesque aesthetics remain at the fore throughout. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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