Book Review: The Devious Book For Cats

The Devious Book For Cats:  A Parody, by Fluffy & Bonkers

After finishing this delightfully witty book, it was little surprise to me that the collaborators of this book were all past or present writers for the Onion, as this book shared that magazine’s delightful blend of plausible fiction and devious insight into fact  that make so many of their stories plausible even when one knows them to be parodies.  And this same quality is present in this book, a witty and sophisticated volume that is better the more you enjoy cat humor and a knowledge of cats in history [1].  To be sure, this book is aimed at a higher audience than the usual meme audience of other contemporary cat humorists, but the same idea is in mind here when it comes to viewing cats as humorous animals and playing to their reputation as bossy creatures who think they are in control–what better way to lean into that reputation than to write a satire where cats really are in control and are seeking to translate their masterplans and ambitions and struggles into human so as to be better understand by people.  The vein is a rich one and this book mines it for plenty of laughs.

Admittedly, this book is more than a little bit scattered in terms of its approach.  While it is consistent in writing about the relationship of cats with other beings, especially but not only humans, it casts a wide net in looking for humorous material that scatters from one point to another, making this a book to savor in small bites rather than one to read all at once.  Including are several discussions of extraordinary cats in history, other which talk about feline clumsiness, the tradeoffs of living in cat condos or out in the barn where one is knocked up periodically by a commitment-phobic tomcat, stories about stowing away to travel, how to hunt wild game, cat relatives, and so on.  Quite a few of the stories carry a fair amount of dark sarcastic bite like the legend of the crazy cat lady, while some of the stories are justifications of the things that would appear to an unbiased observer as cat “mistakes.”  Other pieces look at the relationship of cats and dogs, cat careers, how to toy with allergy sufferers, how to booby trap a house, enjoying a vacation, overcoming the disability of being declawed, and some looks at cats in other cultures like Egypt and Japan.  There are dozens of smaller pieces in this book that are quite entertaining and that are rather scattered in their approach.

Overall, this book is a funny one, and also a book that makes one think a good deal.  If cats could speak for themselves about their own greatness and nobility, they could scarcely find more appealing writing than that present here.  Part of the interest of a book like this one is trying to determine the line between fact and fiction.  Without a doubt the authors take pains to include news stories or their own personal experiences into account and have a tight enough grasp of what is plausible to make stories that sound real even when they are not, and that manage to put human anxieties about making a living and dealing with the pressures of life into the mind of cats.  To be sure, this is a book for devious cats, but it is also a book that represents the anxieties of life for human beings as well, as many people will be able to ponder the search for human dignity and having a comfortable place of one’s own here just as cats do.  Indeed, since cats cannot speak their own stories, it is fortunate that they have so many friends willing to do it for them in enjoyable books like this one.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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