Posts Tagged gift books

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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how to be alone

How to Be Alone by Tanya Davis. Publisher: Harper (October 22, 2013). Poetry. Hardcover. 128 pages. ISBN 9780062280848.

Canadian singer/songwriter and poet Tanya Davis writes: “Society is afraid of alone though- like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if after a while no one’s dating them” in this advice poem. That’s an unfortunate truth. I’ve never had problems or issues in doing anything alone. Societal expectations compel people to believe they MUST always do things in groups. Sometimes solitude can be just the thing. I just went out to a show Saturday—Grace & Tony and Kingsley Flood. I see a film a week in the theater. I prefer it that way. I go to book readings. I never understand when someone says “I want to see X film but I have no one to go with.” I say just go! This could make a cute gift book though for those in fear of being by themselves.

–review by Amy Steele

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

never too late

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE by Dallas Clayton. Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books (November 7, 2013). Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-399-16308-1.

“And everyone’s sink/ gets all full of dishes, and everyone’s heart/ gets all full of wishes./ And everyone’s mind/ gets all full of mess,/ and we all read the signs,/ and we all try our best.”

Children’s author and illustrator Dallas Clayton decided to published this “children’s book for adults.” It’s about making the most of time, striving for everything you dream about and want. It’s rather whimsical and fun. Makes a delightful little gift.

–review by Amy Steele

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

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