You've got to trust me on this one, OK?
Because I know, I know: The title of this book, even with its subtitle of A Guide to Financial Freedom, seems like its contents will be pretty fucking lame, like it'll be some slapped-together, poorly designed, not-really-funny-at-all compendium of cheap gags created solely to jump on the Internet-cat bandwagon in the hopes of filling the coffers of whichever company published it, right? The sort of thing you want to spit on, it's so blatant in its mediocrity?
Believe me: I know.
I know, because it's part of my job to receive publications like this – hey, get me, I'm a professional journo! – and to send along recommendations (or warnings) to you, the thing-curious public. And the amount of crap I'm subjected to on a daily basis … well, citizen, that's some of what I'm paid to do: To deal with all the constantly generated folderol so you don't have to.
Which is why this new release from Quirk Books (those ink-stained folks who also bring the world Ben Winters' enthralling Last Policeman series) makes me so happy: It's not just another waste of good paper. It is, in fact, a book that can make you literally do what the initials LOL originally meant – possibly several times.
The main reason for this is a woman named Patricia Carlin: She wrote the book.
In How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom, Carlin addresses the titular subject with the sort of humor and snark that's on par with what the best writers for The Daily Show or The Onion do. (Seriously: It's on that level of comedic craft, and if you have a similar populist-yet-rarified sense of humor yourself, you'll already be punching your credit-card numbers into wherever you've decided to buy this book from.) Carlin and her compatriots (see below) do this by styling the text in the form of a serious guide to what the title suggests, but simultaneously, in tone, dryly mocking the hell out of the inherent goofiness of the subject.
Like, you may laugh … but, if you follow all the book's advice, you may wind up laughing all the way to the bank.
[For instance, from the section on how to film the various kinds of cat:
"How to film the Complete Moron: Your best bet is to emphasize his uncatlike qualities, such as clumsiness, poor grooming, or fear of mice. Encourage any charming quirks, like a tendency to be startled by his own tail. Place him in situations where he is likely to commit a gaffe, such as stepping on another cat's head or trying to lick his own reflection. Pit him against a highly skilled cat in contests including ping-pong-ball swatting, string play, and eluding small children."]
Now, I'd never heard of Patricia Carlin before I got this book. But after the first ten pages, I went to Google to find out what else she'd written – because I wanted to know what it was, whether it was about cats or rutabagas or how to replace the washers in my kitchen sink's faucet, because I wanted to read more of it. Before I go too far with my incipient author-crush, though, let me also note that the photography by Dustin Fenstermacher and the design & illustrations by a fellow named Doogie Horner, well, those things are at least half of what makes this elegant little paperbound volume succeed so well in its spot-on feline humor and general aesthetic impact. That the visuals in How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity are effective and hilarious enough to match the writing is a sort of miracle.
Hurray, I say, for miracles.
But. Full disclosure before signing off. There is a necessary caveat here, a condition so important that I'd be ethically remiss if I neglected to mention it: If you don't like cats to begin with, then 1) you probably won't be able to achieve full enjoyment of this book, and 2) what the hell is wrong with you, anyway?
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