Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review of "Cat Daddy" by Jackson Galaxy

I recently finished an advance reader’s copy of Jackson Galaxy’s new book, “Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean”.  Jackson is the star and host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” currently in production for its third season.

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.”
 
“Cat Daddy” came about as a promise made to a dear friend on his deathbed. That this dear friend has four paws and a tail makes no difference. His name was Benny and he was Jackson’s longtime feline companion.  Abandoned by his previous owner after having been hit by a car (“he never bonded with me anyway,” she called over her shoulder as she dumped the carrier and ran), Benny was a mess.

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.

And of course, you can’t have a book about the Cat Daddy without lots of his very own brand of cat wisdom. Tips even seasoned cat owners can learn from are peppered throughout the book. Many of these tips were ones I knew – many you’ll know. But you may be surprised at the number of times you're faced with new information, "ah-hah" moments that make such perfect sense you'll wonder how you've missed them all these years.

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.”


 

It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one who still grieves, even more than a year later.
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!"




30 comments:

  1. Wonderful review, Lisa! And the photo of Faraday with the book is priceless. But only two paws up? Not four? :-)

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    1. Faraday: Did I say two paws, Mommy? I don't THINK so! That's obviously a typo! (good human help is sooooo hard to find these days!)

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  2. Great review Lisa - the story really does stay with you for days and it is impossible not to be affected by the sheer candid honesty he portrays.

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  3. our copy is in the mail.....can't wait.

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    1. You'll have to tell us what you think of it!!

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  4. Terrific review! Mom pre-ordered Jackson's book at the bookstore hosting his signing event here, she can't wait to meet him.

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    1. Oh YAY for you Pru! Tell him hi from Allie! He's her HERO!!

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  5. Looks like a great book!!!

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  6. Brilliant review! I’ve just checked on Amazon UK and it is hugely expensive in hardcover, so will have to wait :(

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    1. Caro,enter our giveaway for a copy on Sunday.

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  7. Lisa, I enjoyed your review. And and posing Faraday with the book is not gratuitous but fun. I often photograph my cats with my book review at Cat Wisdom 101.

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    1. FaRAdaY: THANK you! *huff* Really. What isn't fun about me? Mommy should thank me for making the review more visually interesting, if you ask me!

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  8. Mommy has one coming in the mail nows...from Amazon. We can't wait.

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    1. Katie, let us know what you think of it!!

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  9. That was a great review! My human still misses the cat before me, lots - and she has been gone for over 10 years now.

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    1. Maxwell: *curious look* so does she leak on you from time to time too? I don't mind it so much, but honestly, sometimes I have to wring my tail out....

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  10. I really enjoyed your review! I peordered the book and can't wait to read it!

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  11. I may have to get TW to purchase this book. Sounds like so much more than we thought it was.

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    1. From what you've said of TW, we really think she would enjoy it. IOHO, of course!

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  12. Great job!! I also reviewed this book back on April 16th and also featured Cody next to the book, many of us do that :)

    Great job!

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    1. Allie: of course, you did notice she didn't snap a photo of ME, and Jackson's my HERO! *wails* I'm...I'm...so mistreated...

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  13. Hope it is on Kindle. Would not have thought to read it before seeing this review. And yes, I am a cat but I do read...no, really...honest...no paws crossed behind my tail

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    1. FaRADaY: *looks behind tail*
      Maxwell: FARADAY! You don't do that to ladies!

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  14. My Mommeh hadn't planned on reading this book, but now she can't wait to read it after your review!

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    1. Allie: oh thanks Daisy! You have to tell us what she thinks of it!!

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  15. Great review. Our mom has to get this book.

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  16. We placed our advanced order just a few days ago and the email came today that it's ON IT'S WAY!!!!! Expedited shipping...YAY!!! The reviews for Cat Daddy have been so great...and your's is fabulous too! ...Ok, we are WAY impressed that you got to TALK with Jackson HIMSELF!!! How cool are you!?

    This is one doorbell-ringing-UPS-delivery that we're looking forward to.
    ; ) Katie & Glogirly

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  17. Lisa, I'm finally getting around to commenting after my whirlwind tour of reading reviews yesterday! I really appreciate the concepts you used as examples. Love the feline book model!

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    1. FaRADaY: *waves paw* That'd be ME! Thanks!

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    2. Great review! I absolutely loved this book too! The day I got it (Saturday 5/12), I immediately sat down and read it cover to cover. I am glad to read that I was not the only one who felt emotionally wrung out (but in a good way) after reading the book. What a fabulous story. I admire Jackson's strength in being able to write this book and see it all the way through. My feline companion Tabby sat by my side while I read this book .. she loves it too! :) Benny's memory lives on ...

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Coolio! A comment? For US?