About me
Archive
About me

Review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

I should start this review by pointing out that I’m not a “cat person”. I have no particular affection for felines. I suspect that sets me at a disadvantage in terms of enjoying a book about a cat.

This is the story of a drug-addict busker living in sheltered accommodation (James) who takes in a stray cat (Bob) and nurses it back to health. I think a neat parallel is intended between Bob’s recovery and James’s battle with drug addiction – except it doesn’t quite hang properly, as Bob returns to full health within a couple of chapters, whereas James has not completed his drug addiction journey by the end of the book.

There were times at which I found James utterly unsympathetic. His occasionally inexplicably poor choices are related without the insight generated by hindsight that would have made me warm to the character. Because I found the character unsympathetic, I found it difficult to be drawn into the story. And this wasn’t helped by the repetitiveness of the story, and of the emotions described. Really, there are only so many times I can stomach reading about a cat wandering off and it’s owner being worried, or a cat being ill and its owner being worried, or a cat being scared and its owner being worried.

Few things irritate me as much as unthinking anthromorphology, and this is heaped on in spades in this book. We’re constantly told Bob’s thoughts and motivations, and it’s quite possible that over the course of the book he’s ascribed more human attributes than the human protagonist.

In recent book reviews, I’ve been complaining a lot about the standard of proof-reading and editing in recently published books. The standard in this volume is perhaps the poorest I’ve come across. There was a least one point where I found myself unable to follow the plot because a character’s name changed several times. That is pretty inexcusable. Wikipedia is better edited than that.

I accept wholeheartedly that I do not belong to the target audience for this book. It has received excellent reviews elsewhere, and many people find it heart-warming. Many report that it has opened their eyes to the reality of life on the streets, newly reinforced difficulty of overcoming drug addiction, and educated them on aspects of cat care. Those all seem like fairly worthy results, and I don’t intend to suggest through my own negative review that this book hasn’t earned its place on the shelf of the local bookseller. I applaud James’s tenacity and ingenuity in creatively profiting from the story of his relationship with his cat, for tackling his demons, and for building a better life for himself; I wish him all the best for the future.

All of that said, A Street Cat Named Bob did nothing for me. I was unmoved. I found the book tedious in the extreme. I felt that the material on homelessness and drug addiction has been covered far better elsewhere, and cat care tips couldn’t be further from my personal interests. While others clearly see literary merit in the volume to the extent that they have enjoyed very much enjoyed it, I’m afraid I do not. And as such, I cannot recommend it.


A Street Cat Named Bob is available now from amazon.co.uk, in paperback and on Kindle.

This 2,069th post was filed under: Book Reviews.






More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th February 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 31st December 2016)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 30th November 2016)

Diary for 5th March 2008 (published 5th March 2008)

Photo-a-day 319: Can I park here? (published 14th November 2012)

So bad, it’s actually rather good (published 18th January 2006)

Birthday Happiness (published 25th June 2004)


Comments and responses

No comments or responses to this article have been published yet.

Compose a new comment



Comment

You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.



The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.