Our cat and occasional guest blogger Scooter Thomas asked for the opportunity to review the new book Dewey, which has appeared on numerous bestseller lists and currently sits at #10 on Amazon’s Top 100.
Ahem. Thank you, owners.
What names come to mind when one thinks of the true modern day saints? Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi, certainly. Pope John Paul and Martin Luther King Jr., for sure. It would not be too great a stretch to add others like Bono or, say, Don Rickles to that list. Yet there is one name that has sadly lacked the recognition it deserves. That is, until now.
That name is Dewey Readmore Books.
For those of you who are not cats and/or live in a cave, Dewey is the subject of the bestseller Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. His story begins tragically. On one of the coldest nights of the year, some cruel, unconscionable monster stuffed Dewey — just weeks old — into the returned book slot of the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. The next day librarian Vicky Myron, blessed be her name, found Dewey and adopted him as the library cat. In those early days Dewey’s paws were so frostbitten that he could only hobble on them (and here I’m quoting directly from the dust jacket) “to nudge each of [the staff] in a gesture of thanks and love.”
Pardon me a moment. [dabs at eyes] I’m sorry. I told myself I wouldn’t cry.
There. Okay. For the next nineteen years, Dewey became the plucky mascot of Spencer, teaching the town folk lessons about courage, generosity and the power of relationships, as well as the resilience and humanity of good people like those in our nation’s heartland. Dewey is a true feline Hall of Famer, and he will rekindle your belief that one person (together with one cat) can change lives.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should add that Dewey and I were acquaintances, and that we served on the boards of numerous non-profits together. We also volunteered at the same soup kitchen, did mission work deworming orphans in Somalia, and won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Muhammad Yunus for our groundbreaking work on micro-loans. We go way back, Dewey and I. Oh the stories I could tell…
Well, I’ll tell one. Not to shed our great hero in an unflattering light, but many nights after closing time at Spencer Public Library, Dewey just wanted to kick back and shotgun some beers in the Astronomy section (520-529). Lest one mistake this location for some intention on Dewey’s part to actively educate himself about the heavens, however, he chose this spot mainly so he could deface the night sky books by drawing lines from star to star in order to shape crude renderings of male genitalia. I made the mistake of criticizing this endeavor one evening when Dewey was quite sauced, and he responded by smashing off the top of his beer bottle and holding the shattered handle to my neck. I still recall the fetid stench of his breath as he spun me a sad tale of woe, relating how he became an orphan and what he would do to his first owner should they ever meet in a dark alley. Then he passed out in my lap, at which point an overpowering smell filled my nostrils and I was visited with the realization that Dewey had in fact lost control of his bowels. (This happened nearly every time he drank.)
I never visited Dewey after closing hours again.
I want to reiterate that Dewey truly was a saint, a cat whom I hold in only the highest regard. Except for the time we went cruising in Spencer and he thought it would be a good idea to smash some mailboxes with a baseball bat. We were hanging with our friends Gus and Maggie, and since they were a little high I felt compelled to speak up again and question whether this activity was truly an edifying one for the greater good of our close-knit community. This small objection was met with such an onslaught of blistering profanity from Dewey himself that sailors everywhere covered their ears in shame. He veered off the road, caromed into a cornfield, accelerated toward a defenseless deer stunned by our headlights and swerved only at the last moment, careening recklessly about in a whirlwind fury of corn and mud until we slammed into a tree and Gus went straight through the windshield. (Not to fear. He landed on all four feet.) I thought our ordeal was over, but Dewey promptly exited the car and capped the deer with a sawed-off shotgun before arching his head back and howling to the dark sky above. “I am Children of the Corn!” he yelled inscrutably, a reference to the movie he subjected me to no less than three dozen times. Still a shudder goes down my spine when I think of that night.
Again, I don’t mean to detract from the great cat that he was. It’s just that he could wig out at times is all.
There was a falling out after that, and I skipped town with the one life I had left. The other eight were strewn about Spencer, in cornfields and seedy nightclubs and open stretches of highway where Dewey would drag race, me cowering in the backseat. We never kept in touch after that, though when I read his obituary I felt a pang of loss, quickly replaced by the enormous relief that I got out while I still could.
So, to sum up, there’s quite a lot of Dewey’s story that the authors fail to include in their bestselling tome, omissions I ascribe solely to considerations of length and in no way regard as a distortion of the great feline that Mr. Books was. You could do much, much worse than putting Dewey under the Christmas tree this year for your loved ones. You could do better too, but I have yet to finish my memoirs.