The Goodbye Cat (Review)

The Goodbye Cat (Review)

while ago I wrote a review for The Traveling Cat Chronicles, which I heard about in Japan (movie poster below) and found that the book had been translated into English. It was a great story form the cat’s point of view of a man and his furry companion, traveling Japan together, trying to find the cat a new home for reasons that are horribly poignant when finally revealed. It was a great story that brought tears to my eyes.

Since I only seem to find better literature in other countries, I was snooping the stacks in the Amsterdam train station when I found a copy of The Goodbye Cat, Hiro Arikawa’s follow-up to her earlier international hit. Unlike American airport bookshops, all the titles are in light-weight, easy to carry paperback (I’ll have to write a Dog Ear sometime about the practice of foisting off hardbacks to captive passengers).

So this book presents seven short cat stories about cats who get adapted (or just interact) with human families. As with Chronicles, the humans have issues which the cats neatly slot into (and generally solve). But (spoilers) cats have short lives, so be ready for cats to pass away in mid- to late-story. It’s a pain that all cat companions know all too well. But like the lives of cherished cats, even their end does not negate their effects on us. In the titular story, a young cat, just adapted, takes the name of a younger brother not yet born, causing upset in the family. In Bringing Up Baby, a helpless husband whose wife has left to give birth ends up adapting an abandoned kitten  – he’s a confused bumbling manga artists who will be useless in helping with a newborn baby. But in keeping the kitten alive, his Q&A on an online chat room teach him how to be attentive to others (including kittens) and when his wife finally returns, she finds both a new man and new cat. And, of course, we have Life is not always kind, a tale of  Nana and Satoru in their Chronicles trip, a follow-up story that was a delight to read.

All the stories touch on us in two ways – what it means to be human, and what it means to be the companion of a cat. You might not care for them (I was surprised how many people were critical in their reviews (then again, I’ve got my own reviews, and you readers are shits sometimes)). In my own opinion, and in this review, I found this to be a fun, interesting read, one that was enjoyable (and bittersweet). So there you have it. In my opinion, it’s well-worth the read-time. Go get it.