Of Cats and Men: Stories

Nina De Gramont, Author, Nina de Gramont, Author Dial Press $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-33508-9
While cats make an appearance in each of the 10 stories in this accomplished debut collection, there's nothing kitschy or cute about de Gramont's feline tales. In each case, a cat subtly teaches the protagonist something essential about human relationships. The cats, which all manifest distinctive personalities, act according to their natures (ailurophiles will be delighted with acutely observed details), and their natural, instinctive behavior contrasts with that of the conflicted, variable human characters. In ""The Wedding Bed,"" an act of charity toward a feral cat mends a rift in the marriage of a couple from different social classes. The WASP half of another socially mismatched couple in ""The Politeness of Kings"" is too paralyzed by good breeding to confess that a fat Bengal cat aggravates her asthma until she finds that the cat represents a freedom she craves. In one of the collection's standouts, ""By His Wild Lone,"" an edgy former stray adopted and later abandoned by a wife and mother who leaves her family teaches the narrator some surprising truths about emotional independence. De Gramont bases her tales in Colorado and Cape Cod, evoking the atmosphere of each region with deft assurance. While several of the stories, notably ""In His Shoes"" and ""The Closest Place,"" don't quite ring true, the remainder are beautifully and deftly crafted. In cleverly demonstrating how human beings reveal themselves in their relationships to animals, de Gramont has produced illuminating and moving narratives about fear and loss, connection and love. Agent, Peter Steinberg. (May 8)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-33503-4
Open Ebook - 148 pages - 978-0-307-48899-2
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-7472-6779-9
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