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Unread 09-29-2006   #1 (permalink)
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Default A Cat Named Darwin

Bill Jordan's life changed forever the day a stray cat nesting under his bougainvillea bit him on the hand. A reformed biologist, Jordan had no particular love for animals and felt vaguely contemptuous of those who did — until the cat, beckoning with a wink and a yawn, led him on a journey to exotic lands, strange cultures, and fascinating discoveries. As their bond deepened and the cat's health began to fail, Jordan was forced into a commitment more devoted and sincere than any he had known before.

Puzzling through his own feelings, he came to some remarkable conclusions: that those we love live in the synapses and molecules of memory, and that as long as we exist, they exist as part of our brain. It doesn't matter to our neurons whether the loved one is animal or human; the mechanism is the same. Even so, the two relationships are quite different: A cat is a creature with whom one shares solitude; with a human being, on the other hand, solitude generally means a failed relationship. And while communion with animals is usually considered inferior to communication with human beings, the truth is that the need for companionship is a human trait. In the absence of other companionship, the human mind will grow around any living thing like a vine. Bill Jordan learned that the first time your mind grows around a cat, you don"t realize you have fallen in love until it"s too late.
Customer Review: A Love Story
I found this book by seeing a newspaper item on the speaking engagement/book signing here in my town. I arrived early, purchased the book, then read the first half in the car. I had a hard time stopping to go in for the lecture. What a dear story. The author heroically resisted, but eventually succumbed to love's sweet sickness. I have read this book over and over with pleasure. Sure, he's a flawed being, but his love for Darwin overcame all. If you liked Peter Gether's books about Norton, you'll like this one too. Bravo:)
Customer Review: We learn ... and our pets are our teachers
This is a gem of a book. Well-written -- sometimes a bit too pithy and scientific -- but despite that, Jordan's inward reflections are the soul-baring and keenly appreciated narratives of the living interplay between human and cat. This book chronicles the transformation of Jordan the human (who admits to past transgressions against animals in the name of research), as he rescues, struggles with, loves, accepts and pays worthy homage to the cat Darwin as the teacher, with the human as putty being shaped into something finer than the original because of this living breathing oh-so-wise (and which of the felines is NOT wise?!) cat-being. I can very well appreciate Jordan's well-written almost hilarious definition of unwrapping sharp kitty teeth from his limbs as "defusing a bomb", having myself done that many times with my (totally mis-named!) Baby Twinkle, an equally huge and fearsome female counterpart to Darwin, herself a street rescue. But I gritted my teeth every time he let Darwin back outside at night and watched Darwin have his cat fights with the neighborhood cats. "For Heaven's Sake!" I wanted to yell at Jordan -- "One cat bite is all it takes! You're inviting a living death by Feline Leukemia or Feline Aids -- and you can easily avoid this by keeping Darwin inside, getting him vaccinated!!! So... when Darwin died a slow and terrible death (I have seen this TOO many times in friends' cats, and this disease is so easily avoidable!!!), I wanted to say "I really hope, Bill Jordan, that your next kitty stays indoors.....". I commend Bill Jordan for his life-saving dedication to Darwin, his soul searching, his huge huge love for such an innocent being (as I see it, Adam and Eve were NOT thrown out of the Garden of Eden for anything that the cats had done!). Jordan's heart and soul were shining sweet and strong thru every page of his desperate tooth-gritting quest to save Darwin. When the inevitable happened, Jordan's dialogue in the garden with Darwin is priceless. Hope, in the form and name of Hoover, walked into Jordan's life at the right time. I hope Jordan learned from Darwin, and keeps Hoover indoors now. I also hope he refrains from any more strange (ie, unknowingly cruel) methods of discipline -- judging by his remorse, I feel that he has learned. Despite some of my misgivings and heartfelt critiques, I still think Jordan's book is a treasure. I'm sorry Darwin is gone. But he was still a very lucky cat to have found such love in the form of William Jordan.

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