"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
This is a short, quick little book, and I wanted more of it.
I wanted to understand more about the shape of Phillip's life when his cat Alice came into it. He talks some about the recent deaths of both his parents, but very little about his current life situation. Perhaps this is because he struggled with depression and felt disconnected, but he did not indulge in even the smallest amounts of contextualizing, such as letting us know if "Mary" is his girlfriend or his wife or his room-mate. I wanted to know more about Mary in general, as I think our primary relationships are pretty key to how we interpret everything that's going on around us.
I also wanted to know more about his other cat. It always strikes me as a little strange when a multiple-cat owner writes a memoir and it focuses on one particular cat, with the others relegated to mere "side characters." The same thing happened in both Homer's Odyssey and Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean. Do these cat owners really love one cat more than the others, or is it just that one cat has a more unique story? It seems to be the "underdog" cat that gets written about, while the healthier cat is relegated to the sidelines. Sucks to be a healthy cat when it comes to your literary potential, I guess!
Still, I gave this book four stars because it really is beautifully written. It absolutely drags you through the grief of losing a cat in a way that is so visceral that I found I had to put the book down and read just a few paragraphs at a time in the chapter where Alice dies. I think that is why this book is so healing to people who have lost cats, because Schreibman really articulates the agony of the empty place they leave behind. It's difficult to read but also cathartic. I would not recommend it to folks who own cats but have not yet lost one -- better to cross that bridge when you get there rather than get such a visceral preview and reminder of your cat companion's mortality as this book offers.