Life in Devon
Myth, Magic, and Poetry in the month of April

Marge Piercy: Sleeping With Cats

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I'm still under the weather health-wise (although the actual weather is lovely at the moment) -- but, as I've mentioned in a previous post, one of the few benefits of a long illness is that it gives one time to catch up on reading. I've been on a Marge Piercy binge this month, re-visiting old favorites (Braided Lives, Small Changes, Vida, Gone for Soldiers, etc.) alongside her fascinating, feline-obsessed memoir, Sleeping With Cats -- which is honest, raw and inspiring, like everything the woman writes. It was interesting to re-read Braided Lives after the memoir and to realize just how intensely autobiographical that particular novel is. Being set in the 1950s and early '60s (roughly my mother's generation), the book was a sharp reminder of just how much life has changed for women (and those of us with working class backgrounds) in the last 50 years.   

“In fiction, I exercise my nosiness," Piercy says. "I am as curious as my cats, and indeed that has led to trouble often enough and used up several of my nine lives. I am an avid listener. I am fascinated by other people's lives, the choices they make and how that works out through time, what they have done and left undone, what they tell me and what they keep secret and silent, what they lie about and what they confess, what they are proud of and what shames them, what they hope for and what they fear. The source of my fiction is the desire to understand people and their choices through time.”

I know exactly what she means.

I also love this quote, which may have to join the others I've handwritten (in gold ink, of course) on my office/studio wall:

“Writing sometimes feels frivolous and sometimes sacred, but memory is one of my strongest muses. I serve her with my words. So long as people read, those we love survive however evanescently. As do we writers, saying with our life's work, Remember. Remember us. Remember me.”

The picture above is by the French fairy tale illustrator Adrienne Ségur, another great lover of cats, whose best known work, The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, was published in the 1950s. The sketch below is one of mine, a little doodle for my cat-loving goddaughter Ely.

Cat & Mouse