Guest book review by Peter J Wolf
There are, it seems to me, two approaches to writing a good adventure story. A writer can either draw the reader anxiously along toward an uncertain ending, or disclose the outcome up front and let the reader settle into the adventure itself. I don’t imagine either approach is easy, but the writer who gives away the ending, does, I think, take on some particularly daunting challenges. To do it well—to produce a page-turner—as Allan Goldstein has done with The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie, is therefore commendable.
Catnip Junkie is the story of two-year-old Doo Doo, a restless orange tabby whose curiosity takes him coast-to-coast and back again, told from the perspective of an older, much wiser cat. “I am two cats,” he says. “The Doo Doo who was born of this story and the Doo Doo who lived it, fourteen years ago.”
Perhaps it’s this dual role that makes Doo Doo such a charismatic narrator, his confessions so compelling. Speaking of which, I have a confession of my own: I was a little hesitant to delve into Catnip Junkie. Four-hundred pages of cat-speak? Really? (Confession #2: I do talk to my cats, and more often than not reply—a different voice for each of them—on their behalf. Still, I do my best to spare others.) Once I picked it up, though, I found the book difficult to put down—due, in no small part, to the numerous scrapes recounted by a feline protagonist once “full of lust, mostly wanderlust.”
“I have dreams of that used-to-be-me cat being trapped all the time. He was always plotting an escape, making an escape, escaping. I wonder, how could a cat get himself stuck so often? Fourteen years later that is still a marvel to me, even more than his whiskersbreadth escapes. He still brags about those, the cat-who-used-to-be-me thought he was pretty slick. He was, but he was also an idiot. I can see that now, but he couldn’t.”
But Catnip Junkie is surprisingly touching, too—more so, I suppose, for anybody who’s ever had a cat go missing. In the end, the need to be with his people proves more powerful than the catnip that lured him away. “Having loving humans,” confesses Doo Doo, is “like the late-morning sun on your back, a belly full of food, and a head floating in the bright clouds of nipland, only better.”
With motivation like that, it’s no wonder this hero’s journey is such a delight to settle into.
ENTER TO WIN!
One lucky reader is going to receive a copy of The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie. To enter, please leave a comment on this post. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing on September 29. One entry per person. This giveaway includes free shipping to addresses in the US and Canada.