Posts Tagged ‘Hemingway’s Cats’

During the dog days of summer, I live like a cat, napping a lot and waking for the occasional snack. I walk by night because only then is it cool enough. But unlike my feline companions, Cooper and Peach, I still read, although it’s lazy reading — magazines, mostly, or a book with pictures.

Which brings me to Carlene Brennen’s entertaining Hemingway’s Cats (Pineapple Press), recently reissued in paperback with a new cover, and a treat for Ernest Hemingway fans and feline fanciers.

Hemingway loved animals, especially cats, throughout his life, and they brought out his softer side. He nicknamed his first wife Hadley “Feather Cat,” and he used “Cat” and “Kitty” as terms of endearment. He liked dogs, too, especially Black Dog and Negrita, both of whom lived on the farm in Cuba where they were greatly outnumbered by cats of all sizes and stripes.

At one point in Cuba, Hemingway counted 57 felines on the the farm, writing philosophically, “One cat just leads to another…”  The book’s numerous photos, many of them family snapshots, give testament to this. Here’s black-and-white Boise taking a daily walk with Hemingway, as well as lolling on the tiles and making up to Mary, Hemingway’s fourth wife. Hemingway carries Boise around in other pictures, and considers him his dearest friend.

But readers also meet Friendless, a furry tuxedo “stud” cat who appears in the novel Islands in the Stream, and his brother Fatso, as well as Uncle Wolfer, Princessa and Cristobal, the tiger cat who dined off the table. Big Boy Peterson was the Idaho cat who kept the writer company in his last days. Papa liked having the cats around when he was writing, claiming they gave him “valuable aid.”

As to the term “Hemingway cat,’’ it generally refers to the many Key West cats with extra toes that still live at the Hemingway House, enchanting tourists and keeping away the rats. The polydactyl felines were thought by sailors to bring good luck, and those of us who have a Hemingway cat do consider ourselves fortunate. I’m sure Papa would approve of my Giant Peach, who has enormous mitts, and he would dearly love my friends’  little Hemingway cat, appropriately named Hadley.

Open Book: I received a review copy of the new paperback edition of Carlene Brennen’s Hemingway’s Cats (Pineapple Press). It now has a place of honor on the coffee table, which happens to be one of the favorite nap sites of the Giant Peach.

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