A worthy follow-up to last year's Big New Yorker Book of Dogs.
Covers, cartoons, authors of pieces both longer and shorter, reflect current views of the feline subject in all its glory, and sometimes disgrace, as well as those of bygone days. Poets like Ted Hughes and Robert Graves sit alongside contributions from the magazine's former regular columnists—e.g., James Thurber's 1952 post-party tale “The Case of Dimity Ann” and E.B White's informative “How To Make a Cat Trap” (1930). White offers both a complicated assembly job and a simpler, more lethal one for those hardy enough to try. In “The Cats” (2003), John Updike writes about inheriting eight acres and countless cats. Included in this generous collection are big cats, lost cats, Army cats, bookstore and even wine-shop cats, cat therapists, a cat man, catsitters and cat savers. Cartoons and covers reflect more of these cross or interspecies types of rapport and humor. In 1954, a Republican owner of a Manx cat reported his pet's reaction to the mention of the name “Harry Truman” and how he got her down from the living room mantel by saying “Eisenhower.” In one cartoon, a dinner-party host arrives with a cat perched atop a tray and asks his guests, “Cat, anyone?”; another cartoon wonders, “Who's Really Running the City.” This theme is also echoed in some of the selections included among the 24 cover reproductions, like the Sleeping Beauty from Nov. 24, 1997, or the Cat vs. Dog game of chess from June 24, 1974. Other contributors include Roald Dahl, Jamaica Kincaid, Haruki Murakami, Susan Orlean, Robert Pinsky, Ariel Levy, T.C. Boyle and Steven Millhauser.
The quality, humor and variety make for another successful New Yorker collection.