Jeffrey's Reviews > I Am a Cat

I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume
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May 16, 10

Read in May, 2010

This is the book that destroyed Book Club. I wanted to like it. I really, really did. And I forced myself to keep reading it even though my progress was glacially slow. I postponed Book Club over and over to give myself a chance to finish, which never happened until now. Now Book Club hasn't met in months, and I'm leaving town at the end of the summer, so I think we're pretty much dissolved by default. Ah, well.

The problem I had with this book is the problem I have with many works that started out serially published -- their episodic nature gets on my nerves after a while. The cat's cynical snarkiness is adorable for the first few chapters, but it gets into a cycle of repetition that I ultimately found tiresome. While the caricatures of various social types were amusing (e.g. the masters student; the self-important middle school teacher; the artiste; the roguish bachelor; the Zen philosophizer), I really could have done with condensation of this work's 470 pages into 100 or less. The most incisive moments of the book are brilliant, but there is so much dead space between them that I found it to be really tough going.

The only other Soseki I've read is Kokoro. Much preferred that: streamlined, understated, beautiful, and clearly the work of a much more mature author.
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