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The Story of Saint Catrick Paperback – April 8, 2011
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From the Author
Apparently, C.S.Lewis and I have something in common. When we were children, we both wrote an animal story. Lewis' can still be found among his archives, but in my case, my mother made the mistake of returning mine to me before I was old enough to appreciate earlier literary attempts. I threw mine away.
Pondering that thought was one of the inspirations for launching into the writing of The Story of Saint Catrick.
Another influence was the reading of Albert Camus' The Outsider. In my review of it on my review page, I mention that Camus writes it like an illustrated sermon on his Absurdism philosophy, in which his protagonist wax preachy in the last part of his novel. I'm certainly not an Absurdist, but I decided if it's okay for Camus to do it, it's okay for me.
St. Catrick doesn't go all preachy on us like Camus' Meursault -- it's remains a story throughout the whole whole thing -- but the narrative could be used as a handbook for anyone campaigning for ethnic reconciliation, something I'm very much into. Each species in my animal story takes after an ethnic group in the world of humans. Persian cats are Persian, Siamese cats are Siamese (at least their background), squirrels are Scottish, rats are Russian, poodles are French, Chihuahuas are Hispanic and Mice are Jewish. For the mice, I may have been subconsciously influence by Stephen Spielberg's An American Tail, but I promise, I didn't borrow the name of the characters of that film for my main mouse character, David Mousecovitz. I though of that myself -- and it is spelled differently.
Anyway, I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
About the Author
Robby lives with his family, sometimes in Thailand, where he was born and his wife is from, sometimes in Ireland, where his dad is from. In Thailand, he teaches English. In Ireland, he does software and other things. In both places, he writes.
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Top customer reviews
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As I started this book, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. This is not your standard fantasy fare, and after seeing the style of writing and that the characters are talking animals, I wasn’t sure whether this book was for kids or not.
While there is nothing graphic in the book, either language or otherwise, this is not a book for kids alone. Charters has created a world of allegory where races of people are represented by animals – namely felines, rodents, and canines. Within this world, Charters addresses sociopolitical thought and racial unrest by playing on the differences between the different animals and their “natural” animosity towards each other. Taking from colonial issues, European history, and the American Civil Rights Movement, Charters brings in aspects and combines them in an interesting way.
Given all of those aspects, Catrick, the main character, comes to a unique conclusion, one that is idealistic and yet inspiring in its simple faith.
The writing is at times charming and funny, and the solution of simple yet powerful faith is a clear guide throughout. Some of the names and comments twisted to animal type names were well done (i.e. St. Catrick like St. Patrick).
I read a lot of fantasy, and a lot of fiction, and Charters has done something unique. So unique that it is difficult for me to recommend to any specific audience … other than those looking for something refreshingly original.
Saint Catrick is a strange mixture of animal fable and hagiography. The principle character, Catrick Siswart, is a professor
at a cat university in a kingdom ruled by cats for the benefit of cats. Other citizens include rats, mice, squirrels, dogs,
gerbils et al. Earlier in his life Catrick served as a soldier in the wild dog wars and when things went badly wrong for his unit
he was taken in and helped by a mouse family. This was the turning point in his life, and from then on he is sympathetic to the
rodent population, eventually starting a reconciliation movement which sees all animals as equal and seeks to apologise for the
high handed behaviour of cats towards the other animals. His motivation is religious, having contracted a knowledge of 'The Maker'
from his mouse benefactors.
The plot is not especially gripping. We are told right at the start that Catrick is destined to die a martyr's death, and this
knowledge has us waiting for the punchline, so to speak. We do not mourn the death of characters we know to be dead. The characterisation
is not strong, the various participants in the tale act as mouthpieces for various points of view, and their inner lives are not
particularly rich, but this is what you would expect from a fable. The religiosity of the characters is never explained beyond the
assumption that 'knowledge of the Maker' will result in everybody loving each other, and the condition appears to spread like a
contagion from character to character. There are no competing 'Makers' in this world, and apparently no inconvenient rules that must
be followed. This is Augustinian religion - love god and do what you like.
The author has a talent for storytelling, however, and this is what saves the book. It avoids being preachy and the writing is good enough
to keep you reading. The authors insistance on including the species in every name was a little tiresome, but helped the reader to
remember which character was which (Baron Mousechild, for example, could be nothing other than a wealthy mouse banker).
This is not my usual fare. I prefer my fantasy worlds to be a little less allegorical, but as a book it holds together nicely and folk
who like this sort of thing will enjoy it because it's well done. It's like a chapter from Foxe's Book of Martyrs rewritten by the
scriptwriters from The Lion King with a dash - just a dash - of Animal Farm.