Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Street Cat Named Bob and How He Saved My Life by James Bowen
A friend recommended this book, slightly sheepishly: it's nothing special, you know, but it's really cute.

A Street Cat Named Bob may not be a mind-blowing masterpiece, but does everything need to be? Reading Bob can only make you a better person. It's completely devoid of cynicism, although the odds are stacked against James, who was a recovering heroin addict busking for money on the streets and living in a housing program flat for homeless in London when he met the cat.

When Bob wanders into his life, James finds a new motivation for himself to get clean: not only was he now responsible for a little life, he didn't want his new cat buddy even to see the crappy side of his own life. He truly wanted to become a better person for this cat.

How He Saved My Life is not an exaggeration. Sure, Bob wasn't resuscitating this guy in the street corner, but thanks to him, James first started earning more money through busking (suddenly coins were flowing for a man who had a cat on him!), and once he got a bit more money and confidence, he was able to buy a stack of the equivalent of Real Change and become a newspaper seller for the homeless organization in London, which gave him a steadier income. Then, people began to approach him because of the videos or pictures they'd seen of James and Bob on the web.

That's how he got this book deal, too.

This little story entertained the hell out of me. Like with Steve O's memoir, James approaches his own downfalls with refreshing honesty that is not wrapped up in disingenuous humility. Although it would be easy to read James's story as classic instructions for just pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and then everything will be peachy if you only try hard enough, James readily acknowledges that he'd already done what he could have under his circumstances, and without this deus ex machina of Bob appearing at his doorstep one day, who knows where he'd be.

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