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Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat Paperback – September 7, 2010
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Once in nine lives, something extraordinary happens...
The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.
Everyone warned that Homer would always be an "underachiever," never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.
But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.
Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.
Amazon Exclusive: Gwen Cooper on Homer's Odyssey
I never wanted to be a writer of non-fiction. While I can honestly say that I dreamt of being a writer from my earliest discovery of books, memoirs held no interest for me. The stories I loved—and devoured with a single-minded intensity that charmed my English teachers while causing my math teachers to gnash their teeth in frustration—were stories that were larger than life, that played out on a grand scale. I read fairy tales, mythology (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Native American, you name it), epic poems, novels about soldiers, pirates, adventurers, explorers, heroes, magicians, revolutionaries, beautiful damsels, dashing cads, romances, tragedies, comedies—everything, in short, that struck me as just a touch more interesting than real life ever seemed to be.
It amazes me now that, for years, I never thought about Homer as being the hero of his own story. I knew that he was extraordinary, I knew that everybody who ever met him was full of questions—wanting to know why and how. But he was also just my cat, the goofy little guy who jumped around in circles when I came home at night, who loved to chase around stuffed toys, insisted on getting his fair share of tuna if I was making a tuna sandwich, and curled up in a tight ball on my left knee whenever I sat at the computer to email friends or finish up work projects.
The idea of writing about Homer didn’t occur to me until Laurence, my husband—who was then my boyfriend—met him for the first time and wanted to know (as most people do) how it was that Homer ended up blind. When I told him how Homer had been abandoned shortly after birth, how he’d been near death until he was brought in to my veterinarian, how the price of saving his life had been the loss of his vision, and how he’d still nearly met an inglorious end in an animal shelter because nobody wanted to adopt him until finally my vet called me—when he heard all that, Laurence’s response was, "He’s like Daredevil, like a comic book superhero. He has an origin story and everything."
Laurence was quite pleased with this analogy, and loved to expound upon it. When he observed that Homer was braver, faster, and more agile than my two sighted cats, or when he saw Homer leap five feet straight into the air to catch a buzzing fly in mid-flight, he would talk about Homer’s "superpowers." When I told him how Homer had once single-handedly chased off a burglar who broke into my apartment in the middle of the night, Laurence said, “You’re a storyteller—why don’t you tell some of these stories?”
It’s impossible to quantify or define the ways in which Homer has moved me, inspired me, and flat-out entertained me over the years. But perhaps the greatest gift he’s given me is the ability to find the heroism and grandeur of my favorite stories smack-dab in the middle of my everyday life. Don’t get me wrong—there’s plenty of action and larger-than-life adventure tales to be found in these pages. But Homer is extraordinary even when he’s at his most ordinary. No aspiring writer in love with adventure stories could have asked for better material.
I always wanted to be a writer, but I never wanted to be a writer of non-fiction. Sometimes, things work out differently than you think they will. Sometimes life picks you up and drops you in the middle of a story that’s better than any you could ever have imagined. Sometimes you don’t know what’s missing until you find it. Homer is the living proof.—Gwen Cooper--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Cooper had every intention of saying no to the veterinarian who asked her if she was interested in adopting a four-week-old stray kitten with a particular handicap. She was fresh off a bad breakup, working a low-paying job and living rent-free in a friend's bedroom—plus she was worried about the social implications of adding one cat to the two she had already adopted: The neighborhood kids will... say things like 'That's where Old Widow Cooper, the cat lady, lives.' But as soon as she picked up the tiny kitten and he started to purr, she caved. She settled on a name and brought Homer home. His intrepid explorations of his new environs quickly challenged Cooper's expectations of a blind cat. And through 12 years, six moves, several boyfriends and a showdown with a burglar, this tender and affecting book reveals Homer's lessons about love and acceptance—and how he transformed Cooper into the woman she had always wanted to be. Photos. (Aug. 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
OMG! I am in love with Homer! This cat Gwen rescued from her vet is the most touching stories I have read in a while. He was brought in by some people at around 3 weeks with messed up eyes. They said they found him and wanted him euthanized. Well the vet wasn't having any of that, she removed his eyes and when no one wanted him, her last resort was to ask Gwen who already had two cats and couldn't afford another one at the time. She couldn't help herself and took him!
The stories about Homer learning the lay of his land in the house is amazing! He just had a strong will to live and discover things. You just have to read the book to get the full effect!
I have to say my favorite part of the book is with the burglar. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to crack a rib! Who ever heard of a blind attack cat! Well that burglar was stunned to say the least. I can not believe how funny that scene was, I would like to write it out here but I will save it so you can buy the book :)
I am going to add a SPOILER!!!!!! IT'S A PART FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK!!!
*TAKEN FROM THE BOOK*
When I walked in with my date, Homer ran to greet me at the door. And there, hanging from his mouth, was a tampon. The whiteness of it stood out against his black fur in vivid, mortifying relief. He scampered around in gleeful triumph for a moment, then promptly ran over and sat expectantly on his haunches in front of me, tampon clutched in between his jaws like a dog with a rawhide bone.
My date looked taken aback, to say the least, "What the....is that a.." He stammered for a moment, before finally managing, "Did something happen to your cat?"
I hunkered down on my heels, and Homer happily climbed into my lap, dropping the purloined tampon at my feet. "He's fine," I answered. "He doesn't have any eyes, is all."
I thought that summed up Homer to a capital T!
I recommend this book to one and all, it's a very inspirational story about a cat that beat the odds!
Find my Reviews at: www.melissa413readsalot.blogspot.com
Homer started out as an abandoned kitten with two eyes so infected they had to be removed. He never knew what it was to see, so he never realized he was different from other cats. Cooper effectively tells his tale, and intertwines it skillfully with her own autobiography along the way. Without question the most difficult part of the book deals with Homer (and Cooper's other two cats) being separated from her in the New York apartment they shared after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Any pet owner (or anyone with a heart for that matter) would realize the trauma the animals were enduring as they were slowly dying of starvation and dehydration, and the simultaneous agony going on inside their human companions trying to get them out of the nightmare. Cooper doesn't pretend that her personal drama on 9/11 and the following days are the biggest tragedy of the disaster of course, but she does paint a vivid picture of someone who loves her animals and will try to help them at all costs. I can certainly sympathize with her.
The book is occasionally a tad saccharine, but is worthwhile for anyone who loves animals (especially cats, but any animal lover will appreciate it.) Homer is an amazing cat, and has had an amazing life. In the end I thought Cooper's new husband said it best at their wedding reception when he revealed that "I only wish that I could see what that cat hears." Nobody could have said it better.
Remarkable story from the first pages to the last. One of few books I've read where coming to those last few pages feels like you're soon to be missing a dear old friend.
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