Cats, talking and otherwise.

December 21st, 2012Posted by Nancy

No, I’m not going to talk about my cats (of which I currently have none). I’m not going to talk about other people’s cats (much as I am fond of them). This is the next installment of “Influences” so I’m going to talk about books about cats and about writing about cats.

As a child, I was definitely a cat-lover. I had cats from the time I was old enough to give them names that in this much less innocent time are very embarassing. When I started to read, books about animals were a steady part of my reading diet. Particularly influential were The Incredible Journey, Kpo the Leopard, Carbonel, and a book about a cougar I have been unable to track down, though the scene in which the young cougar’s mother falls during a leap across a gorge and is killed by dogs remains branded in my brain.

A good portion of the early fiction I wrote involved cats, though generally they were of the talking fantasy variety. Onto them, I grafted adventure (journeys, haunted houses, floods, fires, dogs…) and a certain amount of teen angst I absorbed from other books and television (romances, fights, misunderstandings…). I still have a few examples of these early stabs at writing, though I can’t bear to read them more than once every ten years or so.

We went to see the new Ang Lee film of the Life of Pi yesterday. The Tiger was exquisitely rendered in CGI, though I was always aware it was CGI, possibly because I knew it was CGI. That wasn’t really a problem, because the entire “adrift at sea” sequence is so stunningly beautiful that it exists on a plane that is almost more literary than cinematic. You never truly believe it, because it has the feel of a fairy tale. I’d be very interested to see the reaction of someone who had no idea what was about to happen, because of course my own responses were influenced by the fact I do know. (For the record, I believed everything in the book until the island. Then even my sf and fantasy-trained suspension of disbelief function started to fail. But I do know which version of the story I prefer.)

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