At the height of my lit snobbery a few years back, I was obsessed with a blog called Shit My Cats Read, a site devoted to two cats who read and criticized contemporary fiction. The blog was really run by Scott Indrisek, owner of the cats, although the site guaranteed he was only the editorial assistant and Uni and Chloe Zola Volcano (the cats) were the brains of the operation. Together, they wrote reviews, interviewed people like James Franco, Sam Lipsyte, and Meg Wolitzer, and even had the occasional guest cat to partake in the literary discussion. This site was my favorite.
And they were rough on some of these books. For example, Chloe’s thoughts about The Betrayers by David Bezmozgi went like this: “This sets up the perfect scenario for Bezmozgis to explore issues of morality under duress, as well as to examine the myriad ways in which, in which–zzzzzzz.” Yeah, Indrisek not only criticized books, but also personified perfectly what douchey cats would say about them.
Or take this excerpt from Chloe:
Why the fuck did no one tell us that David Mitchell had been commissioned to write the 12th installment of the Harry Potter franchise? We waited and waited with tweenish excitement until the September 2 pub date of this doorstopper, which Scott brought home and literally flung into our eager paws. Hallelujah! But the celebration was short lived, for sure. Mitchell has always had a thing for Murakami, but he’s generally toned down the magical realist New Age-y shit, and he’s also much better than Murakami, in that he’s not the worst fucking prose stylist of all time. But man oh man, The Bone Clocks is one bad trip for the first 60-ish pages, which is as far as we’ve made it, and probably as far as we’re going to get, which is a sad admission.
Chloe was always the harsher critic, while Uni spewed poetry about Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater:
Ohhhh, kitten-belly pierced by the sad death knell of aging libertine!!…this fat book has it all: Corpse-pissing, brazen adultery, dirty-talk-with-undergrads, tumescence beneath the borrowed robe, “gonadal disgrace,” faulty suicide attempts, World War II fighter pilot casualties, the Jersey Shore, puppetry, threesomes, Alcoholics Anonymous, shamelessness, shameless, shameless. We highlighted our favorite passages and showed Scott and by Jebus he deleted his OKCupid account for at least 48 hours before restarting it. Beautiful, gut-churning, this one: A cautionary tale for the heedless hedonist.
Can you see why I loved these fucking cats? The site also gave us a James Franco interview that included this photo:
So why am I telling you all this and forcing you to look at pictures of Cat Cosplay James Franco (this should be an action figure)?
This is a preface to a new literary column I’m going to be working on for the foreseeable future. The column, which I’ve decided to title “LitSnawb” (for lack of a better title), is an exercise in reading and talking about books. For myself. Because I have a Master’s in Creative Writing, plus Minors in Literature and Journalism (No, I never want to make any money), and almost no time to read—besides the weekly comic here and there. I’m trying to fix that.
Since August, I’ve pushed myself to read at least a book a month, and I’ve been mostly successful. The rule is this: I rotate between more literary works and genre. So it’s like having dinner and then topping it off with dessert. In August, I read Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke and followed it up with Ring by Koji Suzuki, which I’ll always argue is fine literature. So is Clarke, for that matter. But these are loose rules, mostly to keep me entertained. I spent September trying to find time to read Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. And I started The Cement Garden by Ian McKewan in October, but finished it just a few days ago.
Over at day job, I reviewed Stephen King’s new short collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and really enjoyed the experience. It’s the first book review I’ve ever written, since I mostly cover games and TV, and this column will be an opportunity to do that. And who knows, it may even help with this whole fiction writing thing I went and got a Master’s for. Most importantly, I hope to honor all of the douchey lit cats out there who might not be lucky enough to have their own blog.
With all that said, I’ll begin this column (in an official first post and not a whole thing about cats) with my thoughts on The Cement Garden, a quiet little novel about family, adolescence, death, and...well, incest. Stay tuned for that soon. Also, I have an old Ian Fleming paperback on my desk, and I suspect that will be next.