‘I hated the cats. The cats with their rasping, delicate coughs and furballs. Slinking about haughty and cocky, not needing anyone else at all. How could any creature be so arrogant and superior and also tongue its own butt? I spent my childhood feeding them and replenishing their cat litter. I hated them. There were just too many of them all over the place. Nettie brought home strays and kept the small, ragged, lonely ones. Once, she saw me kick a cat. She was horrified and slapped me and told me I would never grow up to be nice unless I treated cats decently.
I did not want to grow up to be nice.
I did not share these particular thoughts with you. I expected you’d find them distasteful.’
From ‘Other People’s Cats’, a story in We Rose Up Slowly
On Saturday 29 August 2015 at Company of Cats Cafe I’ll be reading from a story included in the anthology, From the Belly of the Cat, to celebrate its new reprint. Several of Singapore’s leading, award winning and exciting writers will be reading at the event: Dave Chua, Amanda Lee Koe, JY Yang and Jemima Wei. My short story collection, We Rose Up Slowly, also features this story.
My story, Other People’s Cats, is set in Australia with two students driving back to a small country town where they both grew up to attend the funeral of the narrator’s great Aunt Nettie.
Other People's Cats:
- is about looping back, returning home after a long time away and finding something new
- has a narrator who behaves like a cat. He is arrogant, aloof, entitled, detached. As the story progresses he understands more about himself and his past with Nettie.
- explores some of my contradictory feelings for the small town, parochial aspects of Australia: a mixture of affection, nostalgia and embarrassment.
- touches on Singapore as a sophisticated, corporate, desirable place a long way away from the provincial, quiet Australian country town where the narrator grew up.
Come along on 29th August to Company of Cats if you are in or near Chinatown.