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A Reading Vocation

"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.


82/100: Homer's Odyssey - A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Life and Love From a Blind Wonder Cat

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat - Gwen Cooper

Not having gotten enough "cat memoir" out of Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean, I followed it up immediately with this book. As a cat memoir, this book is superior, because Homer and Gwen's other cats (Scarlet and Vashti) take center stage and come totally alive on the page. Gwen's descriptions of cat antics are spot-on, and each cat emerged with its own distinct personality. Gwen's personal story takes a backseat to the way her cats' lives unfold, and indeed, her commitment to her "blind wonder cat" impacts her life in major ways -- such as her decision to switch jobs so she could afford to live in an apartment that allowed cats, or her decision to drop a man after his first date when she caught him backing Homer into a corner and terrorizing him due to his superstitions about black cats (WTF?).

Several years ago, I read an article in a magazine about Homer's famous attack on an intruder to Gwen's apartment, and it was easy for me to wonder whether there was enough to say about this unique cat to fill an entire book. It turns out the intruder isn't the only bit of upheaval Gwen and her cats experienced; the strongest point in the whole book probably came when Gwen described, in harrowing detail, her attempt to make it back to her apartment to rescue her cats after the 9-11 attacks. I've never read a first-person account of 9-11 that is as visceral and vivid as Gwen's, with the added emotional resonance of her desperation to make sure her cats were okay after she had to be away from them for days, not even knowing whether her apartment's windows had survived the blast and her cats were still safe inside.

Although I found it endearing and amusing, I also got a little annoyed by how often Cooper regaled the reader with stories of how everyone wanted to "keep" the cat that, initially, no one had wanted to adopt. Still, the message about opening your heart to a hard-to-place pet is a noble one. And Gwen Cooper is not only a dedicated pet guardian, but also a gifted writer. That makes this book a sound choice for cat lovers and memoir enthusiasts alike.