an endearing look back
Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul with drawings by Wendy McNaughton; Published by Bloomsbury; Available in Hardcover (2013)
The superficial impression of Wendy McNaughton’s beautiful watercolour illustrations lavishly sprinkled through Caroline Paul’s snappy, blog-ish prose, makes this looks like a pleasant little confection of a novelty book. But the first hint that the book has surprising teeth comes with the catalytic event that begins the story: a disastrous ultralight aircraft accident that leaves the author with a badly broken tibia and fibula and a shattered ankle. Her mental state unbalanced by pain, helplessness, and dependence on heavy pain-killers, Paul sets off on a first-person narrative that is superficially about her relationship with her cats and in particular her quest to find out what happened when one vanished for five weeks, then reappeared in good health with no visible signs of distress.
But, as with any great unreliable narrator, it is in the subtext that most of the story takes place. In the surprisingly weighty memoir that lurks beneath the cat lady exterior, Paul’s obsession with understanding what happened to her cat leads her up against the delicacy of relationships, her sense of mortality, her struggle with urban isolation and paranoia, and her learning to overcome the vulnerability and fear engendered by her dependent state.
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