Friday, February 6, 2015

DEWEY


Review of DEWEY: THE SMALL-TOWN LIBRARY CAT WHO TOUCHED THE WORLD by VICKI MYRON with BRET WITTER

I enjoy a good pet memoir now and again, but I always pace them well part. For one, incredibly meaningful and heartwarming stories about how an animal changed a person’s life can nevertheless lose some of their unique emotion when you read one after the other. For another reason, most of these books end with the animal’s inevitable death. Not all, but most. Usually of old age after a good life and yet I’m still reduced to tears every single time.

DEWEY is an especially noteworthy read for me, because I gravitate more towards dog memoirs than cat ones. I’m an animal person, but I’m a dog person. Yet somehow I have a cat rather than a dog. At the start of college, I desperately wanted a dog but pets weren’t practical for numerous reasons. When I found a stray cat in need of a home, though, practicality didn’t seem the most important issue any more. Perhaps it’s because of how my own little kitty has warmed my life more than I thought a cat could that I knew I wanted to read about Dewey the library cat.

The really remarkable thing here is that Dewey didn’t affect just one person, but more than we can track. Many similar pet memoirs tell extraordinary stories about a person’s bond with their dog or cat. In many ways, Dewey was the writer and librarian Vicki Myron’s cat, but she recounts story after story of regular patrons who each had a special relationship with him, not to mention strangers who travelled from different cities, states, and even countries to meet a cat.

Like many pet memoirs, the book doesn’t tell only the animal’s story. This is Dewey’s story, but in some ways it’s always Myron’s story, and the library’s story, and the city of Spencer’s story, etc. A few chapters barely include Dewey, but those are far between and tie back to why Dewey particularly affected this librarian, this library, this town so much.

It all started one morning when Myron came into work to find that someone had shoved a frost-bitten little kitten through the book return slot. From there she recounts an utterly sweet, strange, and silly story about how a small town library adopted a cat who would become world famous for nothing more than his effortless good nature.