On the last night of 2011, Bookface is at home with a bottle of Riesling, a heap of books, and her two cats. Pondering what she might wish for the coming year, she concludes, Just more of the same, please.
Books and cats are such complementary luxuries. Many of my favourite authors have or had feline muses. There is a spectacular on-line photo collection, Writers and Kitties, "where literature has whiskers and pointy ears." It includes...
I'm a huge fan of Hermann Hesse, although I haven't read one of his books in the year I've been keeping this blog. I had no idea he loved cats, but clearly he did.
We all know Haruki Murakami loves cats, but this photograph of Yukio Mishima captivated me even more. How handsome he was! Well, they were, both of them (he and the cat). I hope he made arrangements for his pet before he publicly committed seppuku in 1970. I should make a resolution to read some of Mishima's work in the coming year.
And finally, a photo of Werner Aspenstrom and his cat.
Who is Werner Aspenstrom? Well, according to Google, he is a Swedish poet and essayist. It's possible I will never read a word this man has written, but I just adore this photograph.
Maybe I should make an effort to find some of his work. Any man who would sit for a portrait like this must write things that I want to read.
If I have one suggestion for the coming year, it is this: Read. Read critically. Read books by friends and foes; a book you hate has as much to teach you as one you love. Dare to pick up books on wacky subjects like volcanoes and salt and peat bogs -- you will learn more about humanity than you might have imagined. Read fiction from Japan and Argentina and Kansas. You will learn about those places and their people, and even a hard-cover copy will cost less than airfare. Read judiciously selected historical fiction -- if the authors are scrupulous, you can get a lush and vibrant image of life in Tudor England or WWII Malaya from their novels. Read history, too, of course, and remember that every writer has a unique perspective, which may be quite different from others who witnessed the same thing. Read serendipitously. Go ahead -- find a book by a Swedish author because you love the photo of him with his cat! It may leave you cold, or it might change your life.