To give you an idea of the impact this book can have, the first words out of my mouth when I spoke to Jackson recently were, “I gotta tell you, I sobbed my way through your book!”
Jackson laughs. “ME too!” he says, “Me too.”
But unbondable? Misunderstood, certainly. Until Jackson came into his life.
And so this book is Benny’s story. But Benny’s story cannot be told without telling Jackson’s story, the two are that closely intertwined. “It was originally supposed to be just ‘how to live with the biggest pain in the ass cat ever put on earth’,” Jackson tells me. But it didn’t turn out that way.
This book details the journey of two broken souls both inside and out. Jackson claims the story is really about the gifts Benny gave him, but it’s obvious to any reader that the gifting went both ways. Benny was one very lucky kitty to have Jackson there when his previous owner did her “dump-and-run” act.
“Cat Daddy” is an achingly honest tale of Jackson’s struggle to overcome addiction. It's raw and uncensored. “The only way to tell his story was to tell the rest of it. Otherwise, believe me…I never would have done it. Why would I?”
Galaxy gives no quarter. He is brutally candid about himself and that kind of honesty takes loads of courage. You can’t help but walk away feeling, perhaps, just a bit emotionally wrung out because you're right there with him every step of the way. But you leave with a profound respect for the man, and the obstacles (some, he freely admits, of his own making) that he has overcome.
There were two insights that especially resonated with me.
One was at a pivotal turning point in Jackson’s relationship with Benny. So pivotal, in fact, that Jackson writes, “I hit my knees.” Figuratively speaking, I did too. He talks in the book about how he suddenly realized he'd been holding Benny to human standards rather than allowing him to be what he was made to be: a cat. Sound simplistic? Go grab a copy of the book, read through to chapter seven, and then let’s talk.
The second was another simple yet profound concept: “If you choose to share your life with others, you have a responsibility to check your sh— at the door or others will suffer.” I don't need to tell you how much better the world would be if more people practiced this.
Everyone who reads this book will take away something different. Perhaps I cried through the book because, even after a year and a half, I’m still grieving over Ryker. Turns out Jackson’s still grieving, too. We touched briefly on that.
“He died two years ago last week,” Jackson tells me. “So this whole experience is, for me, a beautiful time capsule – it’s absolutely pure, it’s not diluted by time or anything. It happened the way it happened. The promise was made. As a matter of fact, the computer folder on my desktop that contained all of the first pieces of writing…was just called Promise.”
He thinks a moment. “It’s almost like a door stop in your grieving process, like you can’t close that door because you’re going to write this freaking book…” His voice breaks and he pauses a moment, takes a deep breath. “And for the next 2 solid years … I mean, I’m giving interviews on TV and I’m crying about it because I’ve not – the door stop’s not out yet. I’m hoping that by the time the book is out and the book tour is over that it’ll become the memory that it should be…but right now – amazingly enough, it’s still fresh.”
And really. How cool is it to meet a guy this compassionate, who loves cats?
"Cat Daddy" is a book that's sometimes shocking in its emotional intensity, and unequivocally forthright.
It's filled with a treasure trove of cat wisdom that makes this a must-read for any cat lover.
A favor: one thing I've learned from my author friends is that a book's Release Week plays a huge factor in determining how well a book does. Publishers scrutinize these numbers when determining if they'll consider accepting another book by that author.
So if you're planning to buy this book and haven't yet, please pick up a copy as soon as you have the chance. It goes on sale today.
Next week: Your questions, answered.
This book is a work of non-fiction published by Tarcher/Penguin, and contains moderate profanity. I was given a copy of this book to review by the publisher free of charge, but all opinions in this review are my own.
Gratuitous picture of Faraday with book:
|"Two paws up - waaay up!"|