Faye Rapoport DesPres

I'm such a softie

I just finished reading Homer’s Odyssey, a recent memoir by Gwen Cooper. I’d like to keep it at that, and allow those of you who don’t know anything about the book to believe that I spend my time doing nothing but reading highly literary books that would make my writing teachers proud. The truth is, though, “Homer’s Odyssey” is about a young woman’s experience adopting a blind kitten, and proceeds, through its 284 pages in paperback, to chronicle this young woman’s life as she struggles to land her first decent-paying job, moves to New York City at age 30, and eventually meets the man she will marry. And she frames all of this in the context of lessons she learns from her little blind cat, whose courage and indomitable spirit lead him to tear around her apartment and climb all of her furniture in throes of blissful joy despite his blindness, inspiring her to appreciate the good things in life and take “leaps of faith” into her future.

OK, we’re not talking Anna Karenina here. But if it helps, I swear, I’m reading Anna Karenina on my Kindle.

The truth is, anyone who knows me knows that I love cats — I am a pretty unbiased lover of “all creatures great and small,” in fact.  And anyone who knows me well knows that sometimes I need to escape from the never-ending thinking that goes on inside my head, even if someone has to drag me into a bit of a good time (or into a good, light-hearted read).  So I owe a lot of thanks to our friend and neighbor Jason, who gave me “Homer’s Odyssey” for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Jason is a talented fiction writer, has a Master’s Degree in English, and teaches 7th grade English in a public school in a nearby suburb.  He often finds me sitting out on the back porch brooding about something or other, and he never hesitates to tell me to lighten up (Jason is also an incredibly good bartender who works two nights a week at a restaurant in Cambridge, so “lightening up” is easier when he places one of his fancy cocktails in front of me).  And he has watched, shaking his head, as I’ve slowly tamed Franklin, one of the feral cats in our neighborhood (we’ve had them all neutered and vaccinated thanks to an organization called The Cat Connection).  Despite all of this head shaking, however, I noticed once that Jason had put a couple of cat toys out for the feral cats himself.

Anyway, the book was the perfect, thoughtful gift, and it was a mostly fun, heartwarming read.  Congrats to Ms. Cooper, whose book became a New York Times bestseller in hard cover, and who did indeed do a wonderful thing by adopting a blind kitten in need.

And thanks, Jason.