Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Writing with whimsy

Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Ann Kaier. Best American Essays notable author, Anne has published in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, and Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, an ALA Notable Book for 2012. Malade, a memoir about sexuality, disability, and the shrine at Lourdes, is forthcoming from: Anne lives in Center City, Philadelphia and teaches at Arcadia University and Rosemont College. She has a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Anne's blog tour will continue through July 9. Look for her tomorrow at July 2


A lot of my writing is fairly serious. I try to unravel knotted relationships and describe tough family tussles. But now and then, I write for the pure fun of it, letting the words run with a subject until the topic sprints away. Often the subject is an animal, more particularly, a cat. And it’s always good to have a willing human friend in these word displays. Someone equally inclined to spin a little froth.

When my memoir, Home with Henry, was about to be published, I began to think about publicity. I didn’t know much about how to publicize a book and my nervousness spilled over into a series of emails with my friend, J.C. Todd, whose most recent book of poems had appeared to

glowing reviews. J.C.’s cat Lucia is a handsome calico with attitude. In my house, Coco reigns, flaunting her quite spectacular beauty. A gorgeous black velvet stripe runs down her face and she carefully tends her luscious calico coat, which, it has to be said, covers a very nicely rounded body. Coco is anxious, fat and somewhat bossy—and she makes excellent copy. So when I began to worry about publicity, my friend and I had some correspondence about an imaginary PR campaign in which Coco would be the lead publicist. I offer some tidbits from these emails. In the first, Lucia writes to me with instructions about Coco’s requirements:


Meow, Anne


Coco will be needing a few things before she launches her campaign. A comb-out at a chat salon in Paris. First class flight and limo service to the salon. In New York, a suite at a boutique hotel on Madison Avenue on the day of the media blitz.

She felt it would be more politic to pass this message along to you via me.

Whiskery yours, Lucia



Dear Lucia,


Did Coco put you up to this? Since you and she are clearly in cahoots, let me say that she has been telling me she’ll need a personal assistant for the duration of the PR campaign.  Qualities required: Beauty (the sine qua non), pizazz and chutzpah—not to mention contacts in Paris, NYC and at top flight hotels on the water in Tahiti where you both will have to tone up before the action starts.

Know anyone interested?

Do tell, Anne



Meow Anne, 


I suppose it might be me. I’ve engaged a colorist at Le Chat Salon. Or perhaps you would prefer to reserve the position of Coco’s assistant for yourself?

Whiskery yours, Lucia


You get the point. This writing was done late at night, purely for the fun of it. Of course the whole thing masked the fact that I worried about the publicity for Home with Henry—in which Madison Avenue media blitzes and Parisian hair salons would play no part. My fears dissipated, however, in the spray of words between me and the very confident Lucia Gata Todd.





susanalbert said...

"Now and then, I write for the pure fun of it." Anne, the most fun I've ever had as a writer was with a series of cozy mysteries featuring Beatrix Potter and a whole zoo of animals, including a sett of badgers, a professorial owl, innumerable rabbits, and eventually a dragon. There's something about talking animals (or talking TO animals) that punches my creativity button. I'm so glad that Henry punched yours!

Umm Mujaahid said...

I love this! I would hire Coco in a hot second. Your creativity and humor are amazing.

Gloria Alden said...

I love a bit of humor. I enjoyed Susan Albert's Beatrix Potter books, too, as well as the Spencer Quinn Bernie and Chet series written from the dog's point of view.

Susan Schoch said...

Ah, Coco and Lucia in cahoots. Funny! And what a great way to work off the tension about publicity! Also, it's lovely that you have a friend who likes to play and helped you use humor in that duet, Anne.

Susan J Tweit said...

Too funny, and as others have said, what a great way to work off your tension about publicizing At Home with Henry! Seems to me that Coco and Lucia deserve a book of cat conversation too, one of these years...

Jude Walsh Whelley said...

Cat cahoots, I love it! I have two 9 week old sibling puppies that I have said are in cahoots since the day they convinced me I need them both.