on October 22, 2009
There are a lot of stories about animals, both fact and fiction, and their immense popularity is consistent: they are mostly heartwarming and sentimental, and remind us of what our "best selves" can accomplish. Gwen Cooper's story, of the 12 year journey shared with Homer, an abandoned kitten rendered blind by life-saving surgery, stands out, for approach and style. Cooper is a born storyteller with a deep appreciation for the whole history of storytelling and a keen sense of detail, so that Homer is named for the blind poet of the Odyssey, the great epic story of adventure and homecoming, and passages from that epic introduce each chapter. And Homer's tale is vividly, broadly referential: he is also Daredevil, the blind Marvel superhero and the Man Without Fear. The pathos of his situation quickly gives way to consistent emphasis on his strengths: his courage (he foils a burglar, and leaps tall bookcases in a single bound), his keen senses (he detects tuna and turkey even from great distances, and through firm packaging), his consistent friendliness and "good attitude" (most people would envy Homer's ability to make friends and influence people), and his consistent fierce devotion to Gwen. And yet the story is really as much Gwen's odyssey, and this is a witty, strikingly observant tale of becoming an adult at the turn of the 21st century; as the old certainty about rites of passage breaks down, and education doesn't guarantee a job for life, and numerous failed relationships precede finding the right one, maybe being an adult doesn't mean finding a job or buying a house or getting married and having children but more, as Gwen concludes, taking on responsibility for someone other than yourself. The story follows Gwen, Homer, and the two cats she already had, Scarlett and Vashti, from Miami on a "leap of faith" excursion to New York to look for work; in fact, this story shatters so many of the cliches about single ladies who have multiple cats (though its author does express her fears about becoming those cliches): Gwen Cooper is outgoing, ambitious, well connected to the world around her. She is unafraid to enlist a little help from her friends (even to transport three cats via air in the cabin); she is a generous, shrewd, smart "people person" as much as she is a "cat lady", and her dissection of the dating scene is something many readers will wish they'd read a long time ago. By the time she meets Laurence and eventually marries him, you feel not so much that she's been swept off her feet as that she's found someone whose standards are hers. Years ago, I asked an advanced composition course if there were any universal qualities of "good writing": my students identified clarity and wit. Homer's Odyssey has both. The precision of detail brings everything to vivid life: cats and people, all are real. You're right there with them, on the Pussy Galore Tour through frustratingly designed highways and airport terminals. You follow Gwen through the ashen streets of Manhattan after 9/11, and hear both the silence and the sound of a thousand fire truck sirens. And at the very beginning, as impossibly tiny Homer puts his paws between the cables of Gwen's sweater, you realize that each has imprinted on the other, that the journey is beginning, and by the end, you realize it is ongoing, that there are still adventures to be pursued.
on August 16, 2013
Incredible true story about a blind cat, but , what a smart, courageous and funny one! I read this during my vacation, and I couldn't put the book down. Started with a kitten striken by badluck whose eyes had to be removed. Nobody wanted to adopt him. Game over for him from the poor start. A generous soul (the author!) adopted him, and it was amazement from then on. A (cat) lifetime of a strong friendship through thick and thin with Mrs Cooper, hours of pleasure to read. I cried and laughed, sometimes simultaneously. If you're a cat lover, it's a must.
on December 21, 2013
This book is well written and endears you to this very special feline. Homer is blind but that doesn't stop him from being fearless and adventuresome. I felt so close to Homer that I really empathized for some of the trials he had to face. Sometimes I was even mad at the owner for crowding him and her other 2 cats into a small studio apartment for years, but it has a happy ending, so I forgave her. If you ever considered getting a disabled cat, this will convince you its worth it.
on October 25, 2013
A very good tail about how an unwanted blind, black kitty finds his way in the world and affects everyone he meets. The humans involved are changed by thier relationship with him and learn about thier worlds through him. Heartwarming, honest and poignant. A book you will read in one sitting, then start over to read again!