I am writing this review from the back of a roof top hotel bar. The view is lovely, the breeze is...bracing (Its a mid-city hotel, so expectations must be managed) and my daughter is trying her damnedest to be, quote unquote, helpful. Opinionated terror that she is, she is off to the side trying to explain to a rather put upon bartender why generic hiphop and thudding base lines at 4:30 in the afternoon do not constitute a classy mellowed out atmosphere.
Looking around at the cross-section of the patrons here, she is fighting a losing battle. She knows it. I know it. The bartender knows it (I see a healthy reconcilliatory tip in his future) But I digress...
I am here because I am an exile. And its all your fault.
The cliff notes version of events goes something along the line of hellstorm of a week, accursed morning hours, heavy lunch, seize-the-opportunity afternoon nap and the fact that I tend to make rather unattractive nasal noises when the funnies claim their due. In my defense, I was going to take a nap too, but then she started going on and on about the latest chapter in Selina's saga. Ultimately-though, perhaps the more accurate term would be inevitably--concessions were made. I settled down to read. She settled down to hibernate the sun away.
5 minutes in, I was snickering. 10 minutes, and the 'unfortunate' side effects of my mirth were in full swing. 12 minutes in and I find my self out on my ear and technically divorced for the rest of the afternoon.
So here I am; a pleasantly cold local brew close at hand, a daughter with possibly far too much time on her hands ever since she graduated trying to read over my shoulder and a new chapter of Cat Tales on a separate tab on my computer. Today was a good day. Today was a great day. And when the lady of my life finally emerges from her deep slumber and we can dissect and wax rhapsodic about every little thing that happened in this latest offering, the day shall have finally earned the designation of having been truly ''Catworthy'
I have never been very good at reviews, I will admit. I don't have a technical leg to stand on to pick apart the minutae of your style and prose. I see good writing. I like good writing. I see good characters. I like good characters. I am a simple man. The whens and whys dont often bog me down.
But lately, I've been thinking. Why am I so hooked on your work? It all began when my wife compared Selina to one of my favorite heroines in literature: Karris Whiteoak.
Brent Weeks is a high fantasy author who grounds his work in gritty characters and harsh grey moral zones. His books, while excellent, can be quite the draining experience, especially for those who prefer their characters to, you know, win once in a while. It isn't uncommon to see most of his reader base fizzle out one book deep into one of his series. His depictions are that powerful.
So why do his die hard fans hold on? In a phrase, his characters are worth the work. Through out his literary works, his characters are as anti-archetype as it is possible to be. One might draw parallels to the 'Power of the Narrative' metaphor used so skilfully by Bruce. Whenever we, the readers, encounter a situation illustrated in a book, we develop expectations. We know how things can go, how they are supposed to pan out. Well, Brent doesn't fall in with that nonsense, and neither do his characters.
Thats just it. That's why I keep coming back here. I love Bruce. I love Selina. I love reading each and every interaction between them and the larger cast of characters. But more than that; more than the chemistry and the sparks and the jibes, I love the fact that they are complex enough to be more than mere 'protagonists' whenever I think about them.
They are people. They are complex, messy, beautiful, highly intelligent people. And the real beauty of if is the narrative doesn't just tell you how smart and competent these people are. They get to show it to you themselves. There are moments in Cat Tales where I actively have to slow down, or even back track, just to keep up. And I love every moment of it.
And just like how any account worth nailing down often takes months of slog, glad handling and unholy coffeeless mornings, I don't begrudge you the occasional 100 year wait time between chapters (my daughter is worried that my inner gremlin is showing a little bit. Don't know what I took her to school for if no one explained to her how Relativity works...) I deal with the heartache (No, I am not being melodramatic. It's my heart, isn't it? ), because I know Bruce and Selina are worth the wait. They never disappoint. And they always leave me wanting more.
The last couple of additions into the Cattales Universe have served as a particularly poignant reminder of how lucky I am to have found a woman as magnificent as my Liz.
It's been almost thirty years and I still wonder at how she still finds my *ahem* nasal diction funny, how she insists on at least trying to cook dinner no matter where my work escapades drag her or how viciously she haggles for discounts no matter what font and size the very obvious price tag is printed in. (Heh. My daughter's gone off to find something else to occupy her time. Protocol achieved). She is the greatest gift I could have never concieved, and I am still unwrapping my present to this day.
My daughter is just as precious and even more of a mystery. Someday, she is going to redefine her corner of the world, just like she redefined mine. Until then, her foppishly grinning dad will just have to content himself with paying off the ire off bewildered bartenders and polishing his shotgun for when the suitors fall inevitably short of all and every reasonable expectation.
I gush. I apologize.
It's just that watching Bruce and Selina take these tentative (for them) steps into fully claiming their happiness has me taking a more measured look at my own and appreciating that life is not all that bad.
To our estimed couple, I address the following. As I explained earlier, they live (at least, they do for me) and, as such, can hear and appreciate what I have to say:
Watching your love and lives blossom and thrive through all the trials and tribulations that you two have faced has been an honor and a privilege. Marriage, in and of itself, both changes nothing and everything. 'Nothing' in that the degree of your affection doesn't change. You are still the same people living the same lives. But 'Everything' in that marriage is as much a statement as Batman is a statement.
There will be moments when the magnitude of your commitment looms over you and colors every aspect of your world. It even say so on the label. Just remember, it takes time. Time is not every thing, but it is your primary investment. Take the time to listen, to internalize, to understand, to be happy, to be sad, to be frustrated, to be mischeivious, to spoil, to glory in each others presence. Marriage, as an institution, is intrinsically ridiculous and flawed; so remember that anyone crazy enough to take the plunge with you on account of a piece of metal and rock, a signature and a cake is someone worth taking the time to get it right with.
Thank you for let me indulge in your world and for enriching mine.
I wish you all the happiness in the world.
Speakking of which, it's about time I went and woke up mine. Id like to say I'd do it with a kiss but I know myself well enough to know it will probably involve a pillow to the face and a hasty retreat...Who am I kidding? I'm not that brave. A gentle nudge will suffice ( I am such a wuss)
Thank you Chris. Thank you for taking your time to do this and do it right. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I will forever be thankful for the day that Selina sashayed into our lives. It is always a pleasure to remake her acquaintance.
So until next time, this has been the Gatimu family wishing you well in you and yours
Have a spiffy 2017!