Also of interest…
In tales of man and beast
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
by Hiro Arikawa (Berkly, $20)
This Japanese best-seller could break the iciest cynic, said Ilana Masad in NPR.org. I was skeptical myself when I heard it was narrated in part by a wary stray cat that has been adopted by a Tokyo loner. But when 30-year-old Satoru takes Nana on a cross-country road trip to visit friends who might provide the pet a new home, the emotional pull of the story becomes hard to resist. Though the novel is joyful at heart, its ending packs a wallop: “I found myself sobbing through the last 40 pages or so.”
by George Saunders (Random House, $17)
His spelling needs work, but the vulpine letter writer that George Saunders invented for this popular short story is “a hero worthy of any fairy tale,” said Claire Allfree in Standard.co.uk. When his home is replaced by a mall, the fox attempts to be a peacemaker, even mentioning in an early letter his enthusiasm for the “fud cort.” Few fiction writers could get away with such playfulness, but “somehow Saunders carries it off”—which is why the 2013 story is now a 64-page stand-alone.
How to Be a Good Creature
by Sy Montgomery (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $20)
“If you called Sy Montgomery a dog, she wouldn’t be insulted,” said E.B. Bartels in TheMillions.com. The acclaimed author of The Soul of an Octopus deeply admires dogs—and pigs, and chickens, and spiders. Her new memoir revisits her relationships through the years with 13 creatures, including a face-size tarantula. The book is “about more than appreciating animals,” though: “It is about learning from them.” Often enough, they are better role models than other humans.
by Christopher Skaife (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26)
Christopher Skaife is “a born storyteller” with a one-of-a-kind job, said Helen Macdonald in The Atlantic. A guard at the Tower of London, he has long been in charge of looking after the 11th-century landmark’s resident ravens, and his “beguiling, fascinating, and highly amusing” account of his work wisely gives the birds center stage. With their penchant for games, trickery, and social jockeying, “ravens help remind us that sometimes we’re merely walk-ons in someone else’s story.” ■