Wednesday, March 11, 2015
What's the smell? Oh, it's Mort(e)
Mort(e) is, possibly, the stupidest book I have ever read and yet when I look for links for it I find that it has been favorably reviewed. "Absorbing," says the Boston Globe and "marvelously droll," coos Slate. I am, frankly, baffled and can only assume that the reviewers judged the book by its cover, as I did when I made it an impulse buy at Elliott Bay Book Company. I liked the cover and I liked what seemed to be the premise, "cats rise up against their human 'masters' and, naturally, win the battle." I failed to realize in time that the cats (and all other animals) suddenly grow to six feet tall, or taller, and develop hands and human speech and advanced reasoning skills (like I don't know that Gradka already possesses those reasoning skills) as a result of a very scientifically minded ant who has lived for thousands of years. In short, the animals become humans. Humans with tails who have been liberated from their oppressors by a bunch of ants. And, gosh, it turns out that love is the most powerful force in the universe.
The charm of Neil Gaiman's Dream of A Thousand Cats is utterly lacking here. There's no love for or understanding of cats (or, I suspect, dogs, rats, raccoons, or bobcats, either) revealed in this book; it seems that Mr. Repino does actually live with a cat and a dog but one would not guess that from much of anything in this book--aside, possibly, from some of the slavish devotion that the prop Sheba has to her master. The plot is ludicrous, not delightfully droll. The mechanics are clunky, not "smart." It's not a take on detective stories, nor does having the animals behave like humans allow for a demonstration of the nature of humanity. It's more a demonstration of a very bad story written by a twelve-year-old boy, possibly. And yet here it is apparently selling well as a $26.95 hardback. I'm sure there will be a film deal soon because, gosh, do those giant ants and cats, dogs, and raccoons with human hands call out for CGI.
I despair at such times, I really do