It was way last November that I walked into the Barns and Noble bookstore and saw the display of new books on the first kiosk. Ten or fifteen copies of two new books were being prominantly displayed. One was a dog story, it was like the book Marley and Me:.....The Worlds Worst Dog, which I loved, by the way. The other book captured my attention immediately. It had the picture of a cat on the front cover, a very strange looking cat. The title was intriguing too, "Homer's Odyssy". I wondered about what Homer had to do with a cat story. And then the subtitle, "A Fearless Feline Tale Or How I learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat" just made my hand reach for a copy. I had to take a look at it. The Author was Gwen Cooper, someone I had not heard of. "Hummm", I thought, "An unknown author has really made it big with a book about, of all things, a cat". But even more amazing, I discovered this was a blind cat.
As an aspiring writer who has a lifetime of animal stories inside my head it was encouraging to see that the trend of animal stories was continuing. Maybe I had a chance . But as I soon learned after picking it up and looking at the back cover and then inside the front to see who the author (or agent) had chosen to write the endorsements that this book likely was not only the story of a cat, it was clear that it was about the willingness of the author to share her trials, failures and fears reflected in the mirror of a cat that had no eyes.
Among the authors I was most familiar with named on the back cover were Temple Grandin, an extraordinarily gifted spokesperson for animals, Rita Mae Brown whose cat was detective Sneaky Pie Brown in stories that had delighted me often and most recently Susan Richards whose 'Chosen by a Horse' lifted my spirits and reminded me of my abiding reverance for those noble creatures.
So then I opened the book and read the introduction. It described how the blind kitten was rescued and then, standing in the middle of the isle I became totally absorbed, in ADD fashion. I was in hyper focus. I wasn't even aware people were stumbling over me. When I finally moved out of the way and apologized I felt guilty enough to consider buying the book (after all this was not a library) but burdoned by a small budget for gifts this year I decided to put it on my Christmas list instead.
Well, I didn't get it for Christmas but a couple of weeks ago I was telling one of the directors of the Fort Collins Cat Rescue about it. I volunteer as often as I can to help clean the center and socialize the rescued cats. She exclaimed that she had gotten it for Christmas and was reading it at that moment. Imagine that!
I read it straight through in just under a week, which is a record for me. It is the first time in ages I had even finished a book. My thoughts as I first explored its pages at the bookstore were confirmed. It is a tender, insightful, funny and charming story about life's common experiences, challenges, and even transformations that often occur in surprising ways. It is about growing up, leaving home, going back home, making decisions, learning patience and endurance, never giving up, facing your fears and more than anything understanding that there is something inside that you can't see but that propels you outward to take a leap into the unknown, like a blind cat (?), to risk, to live the one life you have been given to the fullest.
Gwen Cooper says it like this (sort of:):"Homer taught me that the love of one person who believes in you...and who you believe in, can inspire you to attempt even the most improbable things. (Even I could write a book and be published:-)(Even a blind cat can confront a burgler and survive alone (with 2 other cat friends) for a week in an apartment one block from the World Trade towers on Sept. 11)There is great joy in great risk and there is a lot of difference between unlikely and impossible and finally, nobody nobody can tell you what your potential is."
This will join my list of absolute favorite books. of all time.