BOOK REPLIES/REVIEWS (2014): Seo Kim’s (2014) Cat Person

9 October 2014

Summary (TLDR Version)

A book that doesn’t over-reach at all, for once.

Framing/Background for Replies

If you’ve read this section previously, you can skip it. It describes the aspiration of these “replies”.

Two years ago in 2012, I set myself the task to read at least ten pages per day; last year, I did so. Continuing from then, I now have the task to read fifteen pages per day,[1] and I’ve added that I will write a book reaction (or reply) for each one that I finish (or give up on, if I stop). I plan also to devise a way to randomly select books to read (given certain constraints) from the public library; this, to avoid the tendency only to read books that pique my already existing interests.

These replies will not be Amazon-type reviews, with synopses, background research done on the author or the book itself, unless that strikes me as necessary or if the book inspired me to do so when I read it. Rather, these replies amount to assessments of the ways I found the book helpful somehow. More precisely—and this describes what I mean by a reply, as opposed to a reaction (review) or a response—I try to focus in these pieces on what I could not have said (or would not have known what to say) except that the intersection of this text and my consciousness brought it about.

Consequently, I will sometimes say stupid stuff, poorly informed stuff, &c. Some in the world expect everyone to possess omniscience and won’t bother to engage in a human dialogue toward divining how to make the world a better place. To the extent that each reply I offer provides an I found this helpful in this book, then it becomes up to us (you, me, us) to correct, refine, trash and start over, or do something else we see as potentially helpful as part of attempting to make our world a better place. If you won’t bother to take up your end of that bargain, that signals of course part of the problem that needs a solution.

A Reply To: Seo Kim’s (2014)[2] Cat Person

No shortage of books about cats and cat people exists, but this book still succeeds in hitting on some laugh-out-loud cat owner moments. A bit unhappily, the cat part of the book gives way to autobiographic details from daily life, which resonate less frequently but still capture at times the texture of everyday life very nicely: making a cup of tea, for instance, being distracted by the Internet and everything else sufficiently that you then have to microwave the tea to warm it up again. Sometimes, a glimmer of usefulness peeks through even.

It’s normal to have feelings, even negative ones. And it doesn’t help to get mad at yourself for having them. You can, however, get made at your feelings, since your feelings don’t have feelings. Fuck you! You’re the worst. And why do you exist?

As a very narrow kind of slice-of-life book, it in no ways falls over itself with unbearable pretentions or stupidities. It makes no grand claims and happily rests, utterly awash, in the quotidian (the stuff of daily life). If it lacks “political significance,” it also at least doesn’t claim any, which one can’t say of a great number of cultural products making claims to “no politics” or “nothing”.

Endnotes

[1] More precisely, I will continue to read my usual ten pages but I will also read five pages per day of Burton’s (1620) Anatomy of Melancholy, a gigantic book that at five pages per day I will finish reading near the end of December 2014. I have wanted to read this book for a while, but various features of it make getting through it a challenge. UPDATE: I’ve dropped this project for reasons given here.

[2] Kim, S. (2014). Cat person, Koyama Press, pp. 1–144.

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