What Other Cool Cats Are Perusing

When I shared with you last month that Nina had died, I was touched with many expressions of sympathy. Thank you.

One subscriber, Sherry, shared the news with her cat, Louie. She said he “let out a long meow and we communicated about how your cat family was now together in the one-cat soul. Further, he wanted me to let you know about a great movie we had watched together: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.”

The movie tells the story of the late 19th– early 20th-century British artist Louis Wain (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), whose fanciful feline illustrations helped inspire the widespread adoption of cats as pets.

The film also stars Claire Foy (as Wain’s wife Emily), who says that cats are “ridiculous, silly, cuddly, frightened and brave, just like us,” and Toby Jones as an indulgent newspaper editor and cat lover.

According to Raquel Laneri, writing for The New York Post (November 4, 2021), the Victorian painter “was the cat’s meow.”

She noted that, “His cute kittens and cigar-chomping tabbies…threw snowballs at one another, played poker and drank brandy, and made all sorts of mischief.”

But Wain’s story was deeper and darker than his whimsical illustrations. Although considered an artistic success, Wain never copyrighted his work. In seeking to unlock what he calls the “electrical” mysteries of the world, he lost touch with reality. Broke, paranoid, and erratic, he was certified insane by his family. Even so, his work came to the attention of many influencers, including science-fiction writer H.G. Wells and English King George V.

“He made the cat his own,” Wells once said. “He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world.” Wells, portrayed by musician Nick Cave in the movie, says, “Cats that do not look like Louis Wain’s are ashamed of themselves.”

Perhaps it’s because Louie the Cat so admires his namesake’s unique portraits, or because of this blog’s emphasis on what cats are reading, that Louie asked Sherry to share with us his favorite painting, entitled A Good Read.

A Good Read, by Louis Wain (Public Domain)

Another reader, Mara, shared with us a picture of Smooch, who recommended The Writer’s Cats. Penned by French author Muriel Barbery, illustrated by Maria Guitart, and translated by Alison Anderson, the book pays tribute to everyday poetry, Japanese philosophy, and felines’ ingenuity and sardonic humor

By taking readers into her atelier and offering them a behind-the-scenes peek into her process, problems, joys, and disappointments, the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog conveys the mysterious, confounding thing called being a writer.

She tells the tale from the perspective of her four Chartreux (i.e, silver-gray, amber-eyed) cats: the pretty, graceful, and charming Kirin, who may or may not be a reliable narrator; Ocha, the leader of the pride, a tough guy with a soft heart; his brother, the phlegmatic, refined, and flower-loving Petrus; and the bandy-legged, affectionate Mizu.

Released in November 2021, The Writer’s Cats is beautifully written, delightfully illustrated, and cat-egorically funny— at least according to Smooch.

Published by Patti M. Walsh

A storyteller since her first fib, Patti M. Walsh is an award-winning author who writes short stories, novels, and memoirs. Her first novel, GHOST GIRL, is a middle-grade coming-of-age ghost story based on Celtic mythology. In addition to extensive experience teaching and counseling, Patti is a Hermes award-winning business and technical writer. Visit www.pattimwalsh.com.

One thought on “What Other Cool Cats Are Perusing

  1. Another great read….Since we a “Dog” family I enjoy the cat’s perspective! Nice to see Smooch’s comments. As usual I’ve learned something again, this time about another interesting artist!


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