Posts Tagged cats

book review: On Cats

on cats

On Cats by Charles Bukowski [edited by Abel Debritto]. Ecco| December 1, 2015| 128 pages | $25.99| ISBN: 9780062395993

RATING: ****/5*

Some of the poems exude a slight disdain for cats and their nature. In most of the poems and stories it’s clear that Charles Bukowski truly cared about cats. When cats do their own thing he expresses awe and admiration.These poems scratch, spit, scowl and purr just like cats.

In the poem “a reader:” my cat shit in my archives/ he climbed into my Gold State Sunkist/ orange box/ and he shit on my poems/ my original poems/ save for the university archives. / that one-eared fat black critic/ he signed me off.” In one story Bukowski writes: “The Arabians admire the cat, look down upon women and dogs because they show affection and affection is, some think, a sign of weakness.” A poem starts: “the Egyptian loves the cat/ were often entombed with it/ instead of the woman/ and never the dog.” In another story he writes: “TV can make me ill in five minutes, but I can look at an animal for hours and find nothing but grace and glory, life as it should be.” In the poem “one for the old boy,” he addresses the death of one of his cats: “now he’s in the rose garden/ and I’ve heard a stirring march/ playing for him/ inside of me . . .”

The poem “exactly fine” begins: “the strays keep arriving; now we have 5 cats and they are tenuous, flighty, conceited, naturally bright and awesomely beautiful.” Bukowski even mocks himself with this line: “I dislike cute cat poems but I’ve written one anyhow.” In the poem “5 cats” he describes his cats. The poem “my cats” nearly brims with Bukowski-style emotions. He writes: “they complain but never worry./ they walk with surprising dignity./ they sleep with a direct simplicity that humans just can’t understand.”

On Cats will be a treat for any Bukowski fan. There are pictures throughout of his 10 cats. Sometimes Bukowski and a cat or his wife and a cat. He reveals that the couple treats the cats as children.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Ecco.

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book review: SHAKE CATS

<em> Shake Cats </em> by Carli Davidson. Harper Design| October 27, 2015| $17.99| ISBN: 978-0-06-235174-6


Somehow I manage to miss most viral videos and pictures and memes. When I hear that something went viral I think oh really? Where? How did I miss it and yet it doesn’t matter that much. Unless it’s Chrissy Tiegen’s Instagram picture of her stretch marks. I follow Tiegen. I never understood the popularity of Grumpy Cat. Like resting bitch face, this is simply what that cat looks like and should we make fun of a cat? But we all know cat and dog and cute animal pictures and videos are extremely popular. 

Being a GenXer I didn’t grow up in the age where every moment gets captured on video or on one’s social media and I’m grateful. High school and college and my 20s proved a challenging enough time to find myself and be fairly comfortable with who I am and what I look like. At a Dumblonde concert last week I was appalled that one woman recorded the entire set using a selfie stick and as soon as Shannon Bex and Aubrey O’ Day hit the stage cameras flew into the air. I’ve never seen it in my 30 years of concert-going and music criticism. Yes I will snap a few pictures at a show but I am there to enjoy the music and be in the moment.

I’m not sure I understand the appeal of SHAKE CATS. Buzzfeed says: “Get ready for a permanent smile.” I say these cats are unhappy and uncomfortable. 

Photographer and animal rights advocate Carli Davidson explains how she got the cats to do this: “I had a professional vet tech and another animal care specialist help me give the cats an ear cleaning–for some, a much needed ear cleaning with Epi-Otic cleaner, not water –and a nail trim. The ear cleaning was to solicit the shake.”

Davidson composed a warm introduction about rescuing pets. She explains: “People who know me know that I am a huge supporter of adopting animals from shelters, especially older animals, and giving them a second chance. Ask anyone who has ever rescued an animal, and they’ll tell you that the appreciation they get from that pet is palpable.” True. I too adopt don’t shop. 

Davidson states: “Even with the extensive shelter system in the U.S., only 37 percent of cats in shelters are adopted compared to the 41 percent that are euthanized. By spaying and neutering your pet, or helping a friend in financial need get their own pet sterilized, you are preventing needless suffering and helping create more resources for the animals already in shelters.”

SHAKE CATS features one hundred and thirty pictures of cats of varied ages and sizes. These are great pictures. I’m not amused by the photos though I’m a tough one to make laugh. I find the photos more intriguing and endearing. I love cats. The book will serve as a fantastic conversation starter. Adopt a cat or dog. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Appreciate your pets.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Design.

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book review: But Who Will Bell the Cats?

Title: But Who Will Bell the Cats?
Author: Cynthia von Buhler
ISBN: 978-0-618-99718-3
Pages: 32(hardcover)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 2009)
Category: children’s picture
Review source: Houghton Mifflin
Rating: 5/5

Performance artist/sculptor/ illustrator and children’s author Cynthia von Buhler dazzles with her engaging, ingenious and memorable book But Who Will Bell the Cats? Through painstaking detail, humor and whimsy, Cynthia captivates with the story of Mouse and his friend Brown Bat as they discover kindness winning over cunning. Each cat has its own personality as carefully drawn by Cynthia. As the Princess’s cats enjoy bubble baths, fine dining, and fluffy beds with perfumed pillows in the Upstairs quarters, Mouse and Brown Bat must sleep with a dirty sock as a blanket and survive on crumbs Downstairs. It’s the Upstairs/Downstairs of the creature community as these spoiled kitties take control of the house, especially when the sweet Princess is away. Mouse concocts a few schemes in order to bell the cats so that he and his friend can hear their approach: he makes armor and a sword and he dresses as a dog but the cats persistently torment him. The Princess arrives home to discover the cats in the middle of such toying behavior at an inopportune time and the cats are in for a surprise at dinner that night. But Who Will Bell the Cats? is a magnificent work of art that will be cherished and savored by children.

Cynthia hand built rooms and sets for this story. She painted, sculpted, gardened and much more. She painted each character in oils on gessoed paper, cut out and then placed them in the sets. Cynthia then photographed the scenes for the book with a Nikon D300. See the sets here.

The MiniArt Museum at The Nassau County Museum of Art in New York currently features Cynthia’s miniature sets and characters from But Who Will Bell the Cats? and her other book The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside? [I knew this cat when Cynthia lived in Boston]. The solo exhibition runs through January 3, 2010.

Cynthia von Buhler is an amazing and talented woman whom I met in Boston years ago [when we were both just young lasses!] and she ran a record label and managed bands like Splashdown, while working as an artist. I recently told her that I had a framed postcard of hers of a girl in a yellow dress with butterflies coming out of her shoulders. Her fascinating work makes you think. Beyond each brush stroke are endless ideas. Someday I hope to have something really cool of hers on my wall. She’s a feminist and an animal rights activist. She’s sweet, stylish and strong and someone that you definitely want to know. I attended wonderful, bizarre, magical parties at her house which is warm and unusual and extraordinarily visual. There’s a plethora of velvet, doves, sculptures, antiques, paintings, and cats running about. I vividly remember two pieces that I adore. One is a wheel that you look through while spinning and you see a woman aging in front of you. In the other, Cynthia has stuffed a wire mannequin with magazine clippings with all kinds of body image wording. Brilliant. She’s a star in whatever medium she touches.

–review by Amy Steele

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Cynthia von Buhler solo exhibition at The Nassau County Museum of Art


directly from Cynthia von Buhler’s web site:

In addition to having written the story, Cynthia von Buhler was also the painter, sculptor, interior decorator, mason, gardener, and plumber of the sets. The rooms were built by hand from wood. The stone walls were formed from plaster. The floors are handmade from inlaid wood, mother-of-pearl, and plaster. The characters were painted in oils on gessoed paper, then cut out and placed in the sets. The scenes were photographed by Cynthia with a Nikon D300.

The MiniArtMuseum at The Nassau County Museum of Art’s Mini Art Museum for Children in New York will be featuring these miniature sets and characters from But Who Will Bell the Cats? and The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside in a solo exhibition from September 20, 2009 through January 3, 2010.

for more information visit the museum site


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