Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda (forthcoming 2017) - beautifully illustrated

"For centuries, legions of forward-thinking men—artists, writers, scientists, and philosophers—have shared their libraries and studios with a purring feline or two. In recent years, a new population of proud, cat-loving men has come out of the proverbial “cat closet,” embracing the purr, mew, and squint of feline companionship." Sam Kalda

Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda will delight cat lovers.  Cats have always been an important part of my life. Kalda's book is centered on short articles on famous men from history that loved cats. Kalda is a professional illustrator and included  are lots of great drawings of well known men and their cats. 

In America presidents demonstrate their masculinity by posing with the familly dog. Crazy cats ladies are stereotyped figures, not crazy cat men.  One of Kalda's objectives is to debunk the notion that "real men don't love cats".  

Starting with an account of the role of cats in Ancient Egypt, he presents numerous short articles on famous men and their cats.  Many of the figures are musicians and great writers.  Amomg the writers covered are Mark Twain and Samuel Johnson (I am an avid student of Samuel Johnson and Kalda's chapter on Samuel Johnson is really well done.)

"As is fitting for a person of such accomplishment and intelligence, Johnson was a feline enthusiast. In his massively influential biography of Johnson, James Boswell makes special mention of one cat in particular that monopolized Johnson’s affections. Hodge, as the cat was called, received gushing treatment by Johnson. Indeed, as Johnson’s neighbor commented in his memoirs, he had “frequently seen the ruggedness of Dr. Johnson softened to smiles, and caresses; by the inarticulate, yet pathetic expressions of his favourite Hodge.” Boswell also mentions Johnson venturing out on his own to buy oysters for Hodge, “lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature.”

Cats help to humanize exalted figures.  To me Siamese Cats are the best.  Kalda's drawing of the great composer Maurice Ravel especially delighted me.  The cats reminded me of my very much missed Yoda and Mr. C. 

Cats, not dogs, have been historically seen as the companions of Wizards. The scientific genius Nikola Telsa comes very close to a wizard.  A cat played a big part in his discoveries about electricity.  

I think all cat lovers will totally enjoy Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda.

Photo by Daniel Seung Lee 

I'm an illustrator and cat fancier based in Brooklyn, New York.  I was born and raised in South Dakota—which sounds much more exotic than it actually is. I received my BFA in Painting at SUNY Purchase College, studied at the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art, and received my MFA at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

I work at The Bakery in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn and teach at Queens College.


Mel u


Suko said...

Mel, what a fantastic book for feline fanciers! The illustrations look exquisite, and the history would be interesting. I love cats. For many years, I had a subscription to Cat Fancy magazine, now called Catster (because cat people are hipsters, too).

Fred said...

Mel u,

Looks like a great book. I just lost my cat of 18 years a few months ago, so I'm interested in this one.