Sep 21, 2015

Great Cat Tales

edited by Lesley O'Mara

A short story collection featuring cats. I was expecting to find more familiar fare here, but only knew two of the stories- Rudyard Kipling's famous "The Cat That Walked by Himself" and a chapter from one of James Herriot's books about a lady with a houseful of cats. I wouldn't say the selections were great- most of them good, several quite forgettable, a handful I really liked. A number of stories are about people jealous of cats- the wife jealous of the husband favoring the cat, the husband jealous of the wife loving the cat, the lover trying to do away with a cat that hates him, and so on. Common thread. There's even a story of a cat that's jealous of another cat that shares its household, and how its manners change when the second cat disappears... Also lots of stories about winsome, noisy and very opinionated siamese cats. I wonder if siamese cats were still a rare, exotic breed in the eighties? or did the editor who selected the stories just happen to like them.The authors include Mark Twain, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Doris Lessing, Emile Zola, Lloyd Alexander, P.G. Wodehouse and many others I didn't recognize. My favorites were-

"How a Cat Played Robinson Crusoe" by Charles G.D. Roberts- about a cat who accidentally gets left behind at a summerhouse on an island, and must find ways to survive the fall, winter and spring alone.

"A Fine Place for the Cat" by Margaret Bonham- a rather slovenly lady decides to purchase a siamese cat when her older cat passes away. She wants something different, to impress her neighbors. The new cat arrives from the train and it is so strange to her she at first thinks it a hideous monkey-like creature. But the cat immediately attracts the admiration of the fish-man (who peddles his wares door-to-door) and thus something develops between them. A nice story.

"The Story of Webster" by P.G. Wodehouse- a young man, bohemian artist type, gets saddled with his rich uncle's cat, and he feels that the cat's stares reprimand him so much, he starts to change his ways. To the astonishment and alarm of his artist chums and his girlfriend.

"Midshipman, The Cat" by John Coleman Adams- some boys are attacking a small cat on a waterfront, and a novice sailor rescue the cat, who promptly adopts the crew and boat as his new home. He proves to be a remarkable, bold and resourceful cat. The story of his antics aboard ship and what happened after the summer's cruise was over, made me smile.

Rating: 3/5       254 pages, 1989

1 comment:

Thistle said...

I don't read enough short story collections, though I do have a few in my To Read pile -- they're a great way to find new authors.

"A Fine Place for the Cat" sounds especially sweet!