A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Artists and Their Cats: A Book Review




Artists and cats both like to go their own way, do their own thing, and just generally be whoever they are without any undue influence from some small-minded “authority,” thank you very much.

This makes artists and cats perfect for each other, as Alison Nastasi points out in her new book, Artists and Their Cats.

Nastasi’s volume includes forty-eight photographs of artists and cats, each accompanied by a short written profile of the artist (or artists) in question. Subjects range from Ai Weiwei to Andy Warhol (who once had, oh, about twenty-five cats), Georgia O’Keeffe (the photo of her with her Siamese cat is one of our favorites), Gustav Klimt, Herman Hesse, and Maya Lin (designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC). And of course there is Salvador Dali, pictured on the cover with his ocelot, Babou (who apparently loved to play with Dali’s socks—while the artist was not wearing them, we hope).
Ai Weiwei and cat.

The text is informative and often fascinating, though occasionally sparse and not as cat-centric as we might have wished. In a few cases, we’re not sure whether the particular artist actually loved cats or just happened to be photographed with a cat once.

Georgia O'Keeffe and cat.
But for this book, the text is an accompaniment to the real stars, which are of course the photographs. Some of them are sublime—I am thinking here of the O’Keeffe and Herbert Tobias photos, she with that lovely Siamese and he with a magnificent black cat draped over his head. We love the photo of Henri Matisse working in bed with a couple of cats for company. Claude Cahun and cat staring directly into the viewer’s eyes. Georges Malkine, photographed by Man Ray, holding a cat whose head is slightly blurred in movement.

We have gone through Artists and Their Cats twenty or so times by now, and each time we find something that stops us and draws us in for another, closer look. If you love cats, artists, or photographs of cats and people together, you will love this book.

Highly recommended!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: A Short Tale of Feline Leadership Gone Wrong




Miss Cuddlywumps reviews “An Incursion of Mice” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch


Kristine Kathryn Rusch does not write the cozy sort of stories I usually review in this space, but she does write some compelling, entertaining prose that sometimes includes cats. “An Incursion of Mice” is one of those tales, and it’s worth a read for its depiction of how a smallish cat society functions—or doesn’t, as the case may be.

The story is narrated by a former show cat who unfortunately landed on the street and then was lucky to be taken in to his current residence, where he lives with four other cats and two servants. He’s called by his “street name,” Wall T, and he thinks he’s in charge of the household. In his case, being in charge consists of having the other cats patrol the house for problems. Oh, and then there’s his research.

Wall T, you see, is an expert on crime and detective work, which he studies from the basement couch, or sometimes the recliner. He’s watched enough crime shows on television to understand how these things play out: dead body, car chase, fight, explosion. Always an explosion. But, like many leaders who fancy themselves adequate, Wall T is not as in touch with reality as he should be. And so, when one mouse and then two are found in the house, our brave leader sees his power quickly unravel as the horrible truth comes to light:

Wall T has allowed a major crime, an incursion of mice, to happen under his watch.

Perhaps he is not as well suited for command as he thought.

This story takes only minutes to read, but there’s a lot packed into it, making it worth a second read that promises to be just as entertaining as the first. Rusch’s straightforward prose is a joy, and this tale is studded with little nuggets of humor stemming mostly from Wall T’s unique view of the world. We especially enjoyed the bits about the Paw of Doom and the crazy tortie (living with two male cats and one tortie, She of Little Talent has seen her share of raised “paws of doom” and behavior that’s just plain loony).

Highly recommended!



Explore more by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.