Friday, 18 January 2013

A Street Cat Named Bob

Yes, it sounds like a children's book; no, it's not. I really liked this book, I expected a lot and it was so uplifting. It's also left me seriously tempted to trek to London through all the snow to hunt down 'Bob the Big Issue cat'. I'm not joking.
The basic premise of the story is: "When James Bowen found an injured  ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet. Yet James couldn't resist the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other's troubled pasts."
This is the first non-fiction book I've ever managed to finish, which I think says something about it. It really feels like more of a fiction book, only told in the first person. For me this was a positive, and I'm not sure if other non-fiction books are written like this, but I suppose some might find it a little annoying. I also noticed one reviewer commented that "the word 'I' was used far too much", but to be honest I think that's a little harsh; the author and owner of Bob, James, is an inexperienced writer, and he tells the story in an endearing manner, at least in the case of Bob, which, for me, really works well.
I must admit that I wouldn't have picked this book up if my Godfather hadn't suggested it, and the great Amazon reviews helped too. I am glad I did though, although you can tell that Bowen hasn't really written before; in places the book does drag, particularly the beginning, and it is a little repetitive at times. 
Overall, what I think makes this book a success is simply Bob, the cat. Without Bob, firstly there wouldn't be a book at all, but to be honest I don't think Bowen is really that likable when not portrayed through his own eyes. Just looking at some of the YouTube videos (just type in 'Bob the Big Issue cat' to find a load) Bowen comes across as being very pushy and rude, although this is probably needed when on the streets, I don't really think it's fair to charge people for a photo with Bob as Bowen has now started doing. He even states in the book that he doesn't think this would be the right course of action, yet he does it anyway. It kind of makes me question how much he is adapting the truth throughout the book to make the reader warm to him. 
I have gone on about the negatives of 'A Street Cat Named Bob' a bit which I didn't intend to do, especially since I really enjoyed the book. But the more I think about it, the more the negatives are jumping out at me. That's probably the point though; this isn't a book that needs, or benefits from, deep thought. It really is the definition of light-reading. It's a book I could see many people taking on holiday, just to take a break from everything. And in this it does well, it's just so uplifting and really makes you feel that anything is possible. As much as I'm not all that keen on Bowen his story really is inspiring, and what he's overcome in life is fantastic. That Bob made this possible is brilliant and the street cat really has captured the hearts of Londoners and Britons alike. 
I'm going to post a link of Bowen and Bob on 'This Morning' below. In this clip Bowen actually presents himself as much nicer than in other videos and he gets across the story quite well, although it is a bit annoying that the interviewers keep interrupting, but ahh well it's not the end of the world. You also get to see Bob giving high fives at the end. He's so cute! 7/10.

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