Right now I am reading Big Sur by Jack Kerouac. It’s amusing to me that I am now, at the ripe old age of 30, suddenly a big Kerouac fan. In college, I would never read his work because I associated him with earnest pseudo-philosophical young men (a loathsome bunch, I can assure you). And then in my 20s, it just seemed to passe to take up his books. But earlier this year, I read On the Road and The Dharma Bums, and my mind was blown.
Last night, two small details made me smile (amidst several really brilliant descriptive passages).
The first was this:
“There’s the poor little mouse eating her nightly supper in the humble corner where I’ve put out a little delight-plate full of cheese and chocolate candy (for my days of killing mice are over).”
This reminded me of my first apartment with Brad (back in ye olde days of yore…otherwise known as “the 90s”). For one, it was quite suddenly infested with cockroaches after the Chinese restaurant next door began storing trash in the basement (because trash pickup was too pricey). This was pretty horrible. I could barely sleep…and when I was home alone, I kept all of the lights turned on, in an attempt to keep the insects in hiding. Eventually that problem was solved by a really intense pesticide bombing (we had to leave for the weekend…and if I end up with a rare cancer in my old age, I will blame the chemicals that coated all of our belongings).
But then…the mice moved in. It was actually a small mice family. They lived in the wall behind the stove. Even though Brad was pretty disgusted, I just couldn’t put out poison/traps. Instead, every night, I would put together an assortment of Easter candy on the counter for the mice(Brad’s parents had given all sorts of disgusting treats, including those nefarious Peeps). This went on for a month or two, until the cat upstairs killed all of the mice in one really intense Saturday of mouse genocide.
But back to Big Sur….the narrator also mentions sending a letter to his mother requesting that she “give a kiss to Tyke, my cat.” This reminded me of an article I read years ago (in Chicago, I think) about the last diaries of William S. Burroughs. He spent most of time writing about his love for his cats. A lot of them were elderly and frail, so he was consumed with worry about their health (both physical and mental). This article actually made me cry. My roommate, also a cat lover, laughed at me…until I forced him to read it, too. We both declared that we were officially “huge fans” of Burroughs, if only for his love of cats. (I won’t lie…I really love some of his books, but others bored me).
I tried to find this article via Google this morning, to no avail. But I did find something pretty cool…he wrote a book entitled The Cat Inside (it was published in 1986). Amazon describes it this way:
“Best known for the wild, phantasmagoric satire of works like Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs reveals another, gentler side in The Cat Inside. Originally published as a limited-edition volume, this moving and witty discourse on cats combines deadpan routines and dream passages with a heartwarming account of Burroughs’s unexpected friendships with the many cats he has known. It is also a meditation on the long, mysterious relationship between cats and their human hosts, which Burroughs traces back to the Egyptian cult of the “animal other.” With its street sense and whiplash prose, The Cat Inside is a genuine revelation for Burroughs fans and cat lovers alike. “
I think this is going to be the next book I read.
Two choice cat-related quotes from Burroughs…
“All you cat lovers, remember all the millions of cats mewling through the world’s rooms lay all their hopes and trust in you…”
“We are the cats inside. We are the cats who cannot walk alone,
and for us there is only one place.”
Do you think that creative people are more prone to loving animals? When I started to think about all of my most interesting/creative friends, I realized that all of them could be described as “animal people.” Some prefer dogs to cats, and other just love all creatures.