SEVEN CATS AND THE ART OF LIVING by Jo Coudert

SEVEN CATS AND THE ART OF LIVING

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 As she profiles the cats in her life, Coudert (Go Well: The Story of a House, 1974, etc.) gleans a raft of life lessons. No idle cat fancier, Coudert had amassed seven of them. She couldn't help but think that such neat and graceful animals, creatures without gods to truckle before, living in their own universes, were onto something. ``Something of worth about the art of living was to be learned from cats,'' she reckoned, something about ``living fully, handling restraints equably, thriving on relationships.'' Something, doubtless, about always landing on one's feet. So, at her home along the banks of the Raritan River in the hills of western New Jersey, Coudert took a long, hard look at each of her cats. There is Bitty, ``undeceivably alive by being in the world instead of walking through it,'' who taught her a thing or two about the benefits of unconditional love. The tormented and withdrawn Poppy allows Coudert to digress upon one of her favorite topics--the difficulties of one person changing another's self- defeating behavior. Socksie, with as tough a start in life as Poppy, chooses not to give up on the future and remains open to the friendship of a persistent person. And Sweet William, of gentle disposition and thunderously beautiful, has a self-awareness that brings Coudert's mind to the benefits of meditation, where the internal loops of rationalizations and justifications are broken, the defenseless self exposed for a moment. There is nothing particularly new here, or with the other three cats, but to put such musings in a feline context gives them a benign freshness. If at times Coudert's ministerings have a quaintly vapid air about them, at the very least they feel genuine: little homilies, tendered with best wishes. (24 b&w drawings by the author)

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1996
ISBN: 0-446-51961-8
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1996