Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bookish Thursday, Lilian Jackson Braun

For Bookish Thursday, I'm going to exposite the wonders of another light-reading author I love, Lilian Jackson Braun. She's the prolific writer of the Cat Who... books.

I came across her the same way I came across Dick Francis, in the audiobook section of a library. Since then, I've read or heard more than two dozen of her pleasant stories of Qwilleran, Koko and Yum Yum.

First of all, I love cats. Maybe not as much as I did before I had Ben (now they just seem needy, dirty and smell), but I still love them. I've had cats since I was eight. Adira, my oldest cat at 8.5 years old, is a darling orange short-hair tabby who has stuck by me through the insanity of the last 8.5 years of my life. Her cohort, Maisie, an all-white short-hair with one blue eye and one hazel eye, isn't nearly as emotionally connected, but still amusing. It's an obvious leap, then, to think that I might enjoy a good cat story.

And wouldn't you know it, I do. And the Cat Who books are my favorite blending of the cat and mystery genre.

While the cats are delightful and intriguing to read about, it's really Qwilleran who stole my heart. 1. He was a journalist in the big cities Down Below, and I majored in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism. 2. He has a gruff, dry, sarcastic sense of humor not unlike my own. 3. He's a charitable soul who enjoys helping deserving people. 4. He knows the craziest, most amazing people. I think that if I were living in Moose County, I would be harboring a secret crush on Mr. Q. His millions of dollars in the bank doesn't diminish him in my eyes either.

One of the reasons I love these books so much is the location in which the majority of the action takes place. Pickax is the melding of Minocqua (where I went to high school in the Northwoods of Wisconsin) with its tourist-trap popularity and the UP of Northern Michigan with its backwoods-common-folks-practical sensibilities (where my parents grew up). I recognize exaggerated caricatures of some of the people my parents have talked about all of my life. But mostly, I recognize the slow pace, the familiarity with your neighbors, and the simple pleasures of ultra-small town life.

Braun's books are my favorite escapist literature.