Guest Author: Caroline Paul
You’re looking at the cover of Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology. It is an illustrated book so you wonder if it’s for kids, but then you read the back and realize that it isn’t A lost kitty!, you think, tearing up a little if you’re a cat person. If you are not a cat person – if you are, say, a dog person, or not an animal person at all – you think Lost cat, harrumph. Then you think of all your friends who love cats, and you realize you have always been curious about that love. I mean cats! Inscrutable creatures, aren’t they? Too independent, with no knack for fetch, and so picky about food. So what is that about, all this cat love? You like and admire these friends, but this baffles you about them. You pick up the book (go ahead, pick it up) and skim the pages. Good grief! There are illustrations on almost every page. Now that is a book you can get behind, a book that will be a fast read and, judging from the text, sort of funny. You read a few sentences. Pretty hella funny, actually.
Here is where you, the cat lover, read even further. You see yourself in this book. Seems the story revolves around figuring out a cat’s secret life. You too have wondered where the heck your cat goes, and what he does, when you’re not around. You have not admitted this to people, at least not to people who don’t own cats. What?? The author and illustrator of this book put GPS on their cat’s collar? And a cat camera? And consulted a psychic? And pet detectives? You don’t just want to read these strange women’s work, you want to be their Facebook friends.
Whoa, says you, the dog/non-animal person. These folks are crazy! But you like crazy. You secretly believe your cat friends are crazy, and here is a book you could give them, so they realize it too! You skim a few more pages. You realize, wait a minute. This isn’t just a cat book. It’s also about humans. Lost humans, judging from the narrator’s wonky, self-deprecating tone. You read a few more pages (it’s a quick read, remember, so the pages just spin by) and you see, yes, this is a book about relationships, and the heartbreak implicit in love. It is about the lengths we go for connection. Sure, the author and illustrator stalk their cat. But they’re also stalking universal issues. Love. Loss. Trust. Faith. You tell yourself, I am buying this. Because even though it is a cat book and you are not a cat person (you’ve said this, yes, a few times) you realize that the book speaks to you. Love has driven you crazy too, after all. Pretty darn crazy, you admit. So you will give this to your cat friends, but you’ll sneak a whole read before you gift wrap it.
You see someone else in line with the book in hand and you drop in behind.
It’s you, the cat person. Your pants are covered in cat hair and when you pull the money out of your pocket a cat toy flies across the room, and your money is crumpled and smells like cat treats. There is a far off scream as someone mistakes the toy for a real mouse. The person in line behind you glances your way, looks a little uncomfortable, but then smiles. Both of you are buying a book, the same book, this book called Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology, and it confirms a beautiful truth for you: that the world is full of wonderful, lovely, crazy cat lovers who read. With the book firmly in hand, both of you nod at each other one last time and head for home.
Author Bio: Caroline Paul is the author the memoir, Fighting Fire and the novel East Wind, Rain. Her latest book is Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology, illustrated by her partner, Wendy MacNaughton.