Tag Archives: cats

Review: Cat Out of Hell

Cat Out of HellCat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s only the end of April and I think I can safely say I have found my favorite book of the year. Cat Out of Hell is dryly hilarious, surprising, riveting, and–most of all–utterly charming.
It’s a quick read featuring an unlikely protagonist and a believable-if-unexpected villain. Alec is a librarian who has just lost his wife and retired (rather early, by American standards) from his job. While trying to distract himself from his grief, he is sent a curious set of documents…about a talking cat. Alec is thrown, quite unwillingly and yet headlong, into a great grisly mystery dating back at least a hundred years.

The story format itself is unique: it is a combination of diary-ish entries, descriptions of photos and audio files, email exchanges, attempted screenplays, and at least one incidence of “emiaow”–cat telepathic communications, of course. Utterly charming, as I said.

One challenge for some readers may be that it is Very British, with absolutely no Harry Potter-like accommodations for American readers. That means you’ll just have to accept (or Google) the many Britishisms and pop culture references, or miss out on a lot of the fun. The sense of humor is also resolutely British in flavor, with our artless protagonist feeling a little bad about winning even when he is completely justified. It’s so incredibly, delightfully, downplayed.

Cat lovers will adore this book for its adroit insight into the feline mind, and cat haters will walk away certain they are correct to dislike our independent little companions. (Oh, dog lovers, don’t worry, there are some nice bits for you, too.) I can’t recommend it enough!

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Grammar in the Cat-iest (Best) Way

Special thanks to grammarian extraordinaire and friend-to-cats Tex Thompson for her shout-out and grammar lesson featuring my very own cat! My own naughty kitty can now help you learn more about the “royal order of adjectives” (he’s the one who prefers Coke products and espionage).

Tex is a great resource for the fine and tricky points of grammar that can be hard to grasp and harder to explain. She’s one of my favorites, too. Check her out!

From her post:

“The what?  The royal what?  Don’t be coming ’round here with all your highnesses and majesties and HMS Jolly Longbottoms.  This is AMERICA, dammit, and we speak democracy!”

YES WE DO.  And that means we have the right to life, liberty, and a full, complete understanding of where all those dang commas go between the adjectives — including the reason why we have one in “full, complete understanding” but not in “all those dang commas.”

Read more to get all the deets!

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Filed under Editing, writing