Wednesday, March 21, 2012
It's Like This, Cat (1964)
I know that I have commented before about books that don't have a defined plot direction. Beginning, middle, end; intro, rising action, climax, resolution. It's Like This, Cat is one of those books. While it was not entirely annoying to read, it still lacked the satisfaction that comes with resolved conflict.
Dave Mitchell and his father argue over many things, loud shouting matches that gives Dave's mom asthma induced by the stress of living with the two of them.
Dave gets in a fight with his best friend, Nick. A real knock down, drag out fight. Now they are no longer best friends and Dave has to find new friends. One of these friends is Mary, a girl who he meets on Coney Island when he was still friends with Nick. Her parents are hippies and don't seem to care about Mary's comings and goings. Dave sees his parents in stark contrast as they always want to know where he is going, for how long, and with whom. He also comes to appreciates that they care.
He meets an older boy who is down on his luck, living on the streets. Dave's dad, a lawyer, is willing and able to help Tom. This is a turning point in the father/son relationship, although Dave doesn't realize it at the time. He sees his dad in a different light. And the Mitchells are able to help Tom and his girlfriend-turned-fiancee to plan for their future.
He goes to crazy "aunt" Kate, whenever he needs a listening ear and some cottage cheese. (She thinks cottage cheese is a wonder food.) She has several cats in her apartment, as many as 15 on some days, and it is from aunt Kate that Dave gets his cat, which he names Cat.
Cat is a catalyst in the story (pun intended). Through Cat, Dave meets Tom. Through Cat, Dave meets Mary. Because of Cat, Dave and his father learn to respect each other.
Background to one quote. When aunt Kate's brother died, whom she hadn't seen or spoken to in over 20 years, and left her a fortune, she was devastated because she thought her simple life would have to change. Dave observed her, "Kate is staring out the window and stroking an old stray tomcat between the ears, and it hits me: there isn't a person in the world she loves of even hates. I like cats fine, too, but if I didn't have people that mattered, it wouldn't be so good." (p. 144)
Neville, Emily Cheney. It's Like This, Cat. HarperCollins, 1963.