Monday, December 9, 2013

The apotheosis of the cat

For the past 90 years, cats and the folks who contend with them have been both celebrated and satirized in the New Yorker. Appropriately enough, they have selected the crème de la crème of feline-related articles, essays, short stories, poems, cartoons, and covers for the The Big New Yorker Book of Cats. Quite the compendium, it covers cats both exotic and domestic and includes pieces by authors such as John Updike, Margaret Atwood, James Thurber, and Susan Orlean—as well as a cadre of famed cartoonists. Below is a sampling of its contents for your perusal and enjoyment, beginning with Electrical Storm, by Elizabeth Bishop.
Dawn an unsympathetic yellow.

Cra-aack! — dry and light.

The house was really struck.

Crack! A tinny sound, like a dropped tumbler.

Tobias jumped in the window, got in bed –

silent, his eyes bleached white, his fur on end.

Personal and spiteful as a neighbor’s child,

thunder began to bang and bump the roof.

One pink flash;
then hail, the biggest size of artificial pearls.

Dead-white, wax-white, cold –

diplomats’ wives’ favors

from an old moon party –

they lay in melting windrows

on the red ground until well after sunrise.

We got up to find the wiring fused,

no lights, a smell of saltpetre,

and the telephone dead.
The cat stayed in the warm sheets.

The Lent trees had shed all their petals:

wet, stuck, purple, among the dead-eye pearls.
In the interests of inclusivity, here's an assortment of books for ALL pet lovers!

1 comment:

  1. Some people go through a stage of trying to find themselves. They read fiction to know others' lives,try unfamiliar things they probably won't like, and waste a good deal of energy trying to delineate a borderline, writ of likes and disgusts, with the intent of discovering in the world a me-shaped hole into which each can fit and know she will be comfortable.

    The cat has no such stage. She is perfectly aware who she is and how much she will bend to fit into a relationship. Sometimes it seems she does not bend very far at all. But we do love her, don't we? We meet her halfway and more.

    Maybe we can learn from her to be ourselves and let those who would love us, and seek our love, meet us halfway, too.