All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put, by Vivian Swift

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put, by Vivian Swift, defies categorization. It is part self-indulgent memoir, part travelogue, part poetry, and part art collection. There are snippets of science—like her aside about the Abyssinian Roller (a bird)--and diary-like meanderings such as the following: 

1 My 1st fiancé was a Californian I met in Paris

2 My 1st husband was a Gemini I met in Levant

3 My 2nd fiancé believed in long engagements

Swift illustrates the pages with lovely water colors and sketches of clothes, buildings, maps, and landscapes. 

There are flashes of humor and humility, but mostly it is a book commemorating the author’s travels and daring escapades.  Now that she has reached the ripe old age of 40, she has settled down to reflect and record how she apparently now spends the bulk of her days-- going for long walks, collecting lost mittens, looking for feathers, sunning herself with her cat, and sketching the town’s landmarks.

In one travel story, she relates attending a party at the American Embassy. She describes the conversation as “suffocating: raising children, their boarding schools, the cost of living. It is my first important lesson in international bores.” Yet her readers may feel similarly smothered by her descriptions of men she flirted with in France, or the “big Irish college kid” she was sure had a crush on her, or how she was flattered by an NYPD mounted patrolman. There are occasional pieces of delightful imagery (her discourse about fireflies in particular), myths (including The Acre of Earth Theory of Life), poetic turns of phrases (“the weary dismals”), and good advice (get two old cats), but there is too much space devoted to description of the black items in her wardrobe, or her teacup collection, which is well, about as interesting as boarding schools were to her.

The book is a quick read. For art or poetry lovers, it is worth the investment for the delightful illustrations and charming turns of phrases. When Wanderers Cease to Roam was published by Bloomsbury in 2008.

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