After I finished The Little Prince I needed another book to occupy my commutes, so I ducked into Kinokuniya's small Shibuya outpost. The selection of English novels there is very small, but I was drawn to this short novel because I wanted to check out another Japanese author, and, well, because I love cats.
The Guest Cat is very short, but extremely beautifully put together. A central theme is how the smallest thing can change one's life forever, and also how ones circumstances can change in an instant. I'm sure this book will live on my shelf for years, and I'm already looking forward to reading it again.
There were so many beautiful phrases that I loved:
"Having devoted themselves to cats body and soul, they seemed at times utterly indifferent to shame. When I think about it now, rather than my not being a cat lover, it may simply have been that I felt a disconnect with people who were cat lovers. But more than anything, I'd simply never experienced having one around." p.8
"Lie a camera obscura, which transmitted only that which was needed, the house with its breezy interior had a soothing effect on the soul." p.30
"What's interesting about animals, my wife explained, is that even though a cat may be a cat, in the end, each individual has its own character. 'For me, Chibi is a friend with whom I share an understanding, and who just happens to have taken on the form of a cat.'" p.36
"Still in formal black funeral attire, we did the wave as a couple for the first time. But I somehow felt that even this was according to the old lady's wishes. She would always point out to us the importance of being natural, of being ourselves." p.48
"Chibi, who had been coming over to our house every morning and every night for who knows how long and had never let out a sound, now, for the first time, opened her mouth and began expressing herself at great length. The content of her speech – or so my wife reported to me with the utmost seriousness – was not about thanking us for taking care of her all the time but rather, the usual social niceties, chatter about the weather and so on, and all the other insincere politenesses that neighbours often exchange." p.62
"'They weren't meowing together, in a matter-of-fact way. It seemed more like they were intimately discussing their personal lives.' She tilted her head to the side as she spoke, as if not quite believing her own words." p.65
"She bowed politely to me. The way we were talking it sounded more like a human child had died. I wanted to talk some more." p.81
"When the cat stopped coming, it seemed as if the garden had changed into something dreary and drab. How much we see through colored glasses, I thought." p.95
"Funny, these aversions we have for certain things. It does make you wonder a bit whether it's some kind of karmic connection with a past-life experience, even if that's just a bit too weird." p.110
"Even in our neighborhood, we started to notice a growing number of older houses being readied for demolition so that shiny new condominiums could be built in their place." p.118
"There it lay in the darkness – a raw, open space covered by a sheet of pure white." p.132xx, C.