The Cats’ New Toy & Three Literary Links


“Books are fine,” the cat said before the electronic mouse came to stay.

The cats have everything.

A pink 2016 calendar with a ribbon bookmark, a copy of a Beryl Bainbridge novel,  and their own personal  couch with a furry slipcover!

What more can they want?

While my husband was away on a business trip, I became their cat. They insisted on “Modern Family” reruns from 6-6:30, a lovely dinner of Whiskas, and then requested Shawn Colvin.  They prefer “Sunny Came Home” and “Window to the World!” to alternative rock.  Who knew?

Okay, we were fine.  I was a little tired after they figured out how to open the bedroom door, but then I barricaded the door.  I was in charge!

And then…

A friend brought a gift for them.  It is an electronic mouse, attached to a piece of yarn on a stick.  When you swing the stick, it chirps and its eyes blaze electronically.  I’m scared to death of it!

The cats want to see it move all day long!

Reading?  No way, Mom.

Play with the mouse! they say.

Cats with new electronic mouse!

Cats with new electronic mouse!

I’m not sure I approve of electronic toys for cats.  Is this how my mother felt about Chatty Cathy, the talking doll?  I pulled the ring over and over so she would chat:    “I love you,” “Can I have a cookie, “Take me with you” all day long!

And the mouse?  Chirp, chirp, chirp!

Moby on coffee table with mouse


Only the white cat is truly enthusiastic.  The others are slightly apprehensive.  They just like to watch the white cat play with it.

I plan to reinstitute kitty soccer this weekend.  I’m sure the plastic balls with bells in them are somewhere…


1 I enjoyed D. J. Taylor’s article in The Independent, “How the Books We Read Shape Our Lives.” He discusses the importance of the books we  read as children and muses on how our tastes develop.

…the sociological questions that lie behind what might be called the origins of the literary sensibility are a great deal less easy to answer. How do people learn to read? How do they fashion their own individual tastes? How do they establish why they prefer one type of book to another type? Where do they acquire the information that enables them to make these selections, and, having acquired it, what do they do with it? After all, there are no hard-and-fast rules about aesthetic choice and how it operates: it was Anthony Powell who, presented by an admirer of his novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time with an ornamental clock on which the names of Poussin and Proust had been engraved, truly remarked that books “have odd effects on different people”.

2 In The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani reviews Tom Holland’s Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar, a fascinating history I immensely enjoyed and do plan to write about eventually. She writes,

Mr. Holland, the author of “Rubicon,” about the last years of the Roman republic, writes with great authority and relish. His book is less analytic and less panoramic than “SPQR,” Mary Beard’s excellent recent history of ancient Rome. By confining his study largely to the Julio-Claudians (as the dynasty of Augustus is conventionally known), Mr. Holland gets to tell the story of Rome through a series of portraits of some of its most notorious emperors, immortalized in seminal works by Tacitus and Suetonius as larger-than-life autocrats and monsters.

3 In The Weekly Standard, Joseph Bottum writes about Michael Dirda’s new book, Browsings.

… Michael Dirda is a reader, down at the root of his being. A man who gained his scholarly knowledge and critical sensibility from reading whatever came to hand as he pawed through the dusty shelves of used bookstores. Writing—well, yes: If you’re going to keep from starving as a reader, you’ve got to find a bookish job, and writing is one of the possibilities, especially writing book reviews. He is, really, only what he claims for himself: Bookman, plain and simple. “An appreciator,” he adds, “a cheerleader for the old, the neglected, the marginalized, and the forgotten. On sunny days I may call myself a literary journalist.”

Enjoy the links!