A Cat by Leonard Michaels (Tin House Books, $18.95, 128 pages); illustrated by Francis Lerner, introduction by Sigrid Nunez
“A cat is content to be a cat.”
A Cat is a nicely illustrated re-release of a book originally published in 1999. The book was written by the late Leonard Michaels, who taught as a Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. The line drawings for the original and this edition were by Francis Lerner, and they well represent the relaxed yet athletic nature of cats.
A Cat is both an examination of and a tribute to felines. Each page contains a parable-like statement about the nature of cats, although Michaels noted that we can never truly capture the essence of these creatures: “A cat reminds us that much in this world remains unknown.”
Michaels certainly loved cats: “Looking at a cat, like looking at clouds or stars or the ocean, makes it difficult to believe there is nothing miraculous in the world.” Cats remain in the present moment, making the most of life. In Michaels’s words, “For a cat just to live is splendid.” And cats show us that sometimes it is best to get out of one’s mind: “To be quick as a cat you must not think.”
Cats live on their well developed instincts, “However a cat looks or behaves, it is what it is, a small and intensely serious being, a cat.”
Well recommended for anyone who is willingly owned by a cat.
A review copy was received from the publisher. This new edition of A Cat was released on November 13, 2018. (Sasha the cat decided this was a great book to sit on top of.)