Cats I’ve Known By Katie Haegle, 175 pgs.

I picked this volume out of the review pile because it was covered in cats. Each new story (all forty-three of them) has its own title page with an impressionistic little drawing of the cat in the story.

This book is a series of vignettes, told semi-chronologically, through (often incidental) encounters with various felines in and around the greater Philadelphia area. One of the first stories was just about a statue though, which made me suspicious… what’s next? A cat-shaped cloud? A picture of a cat on a bag of kibbles? A family of balloon animals? None of these fears were realized, however, which is to the book’s credit.

About halfway through the book, there’s a really touching story about Trixie—the cat that Haegle owned for years—and she does a good job of capturing the bond that can form between humans and animals. It is the longest story (which clocks in at a whopping twelve pages), so if you are easily distracted, this book will suit your attention span. Many of the stories are two or three pages long.

The book is structured as a series of stories about cats the author has known (hence the title), but it’s really more about the narrator than her feline companions. Many of the stories are a bit lackluster if you were hoping to get to know the cats in the stories very much, beyond a basic physical description. This seemed odd to me, because I could definitely tell some long-ass stories about cats I’ve known. Cats are weird and funny once you get to know them, but the everyday “I saw a cat on my walk home from work” story is not a very compelling one.

If you’re looking for a book loaded with micro-memoirs that use various cats as a motif throughout, this is one to curl up with. Haegle clearly wanted to share her love of cats in this book, and though it’s a valiant effort, it was far from purr-fect. –Cheyenne Neckmonster (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)