One frigid Midwestern winter night in 1988, a ginger kitten was shoved into the after-hours book-return slot at the public library in Spencer, Iowa. And in this tender story, Myron, the library director, tells of the impact the cat, named DeweyReadmore Books, had on the library and its patrons, and on Myron herself. Through her developing relationship with the feline, Myron recounts the economic and social history of Spencer as well as her own success story-despite an alcoholic husband, living on welfare, and health problems ranging from the difficult birth of her daughter, Jodi, to breast cancer. After her divorce, Myron graduated college (the first in her family) and stumbled into a library job. She quickly rose to become director, realizing early on that this "was a job I could love for the rest of my life." Dewey, meanwhile, brings disabled children out of their shells, invites businessmen to pet him with one hand while holding the Wall Street Journal with the other, eats rubber bands and becomes a media darling. The book is not only a tribute to a cat-anthropomorphized to a degree that can strain credulity (Dewey plays hide and seek with Myron, can read her thoughts, is mortified by his hair balls)-it's a love letter to libraries.
One freezing night in 1988, an eight-week-old kitten was left in the book drop of the Spencer Public Library in Iowa. Head librarian Myron immediately fell in love with him, as did the rest of the library staff, and this is how Dewey Readmore Books became the Spencer library cat. Dewey grew into a handsome feline, making many friends in his 19 years at the library by sitting in many laps and greeting library visitors at the door with an uncanny knack for knowing just who needed his affections-children, the elderly, and those on the fence regarding a library cat. Dewey's fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and, amazingly, worldwide. Some of the most moving parts of this memoir express the intense, special bond that Dewey had with Myron, who survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. This charming and heartwarming story of an extraordinary feline will be welcomed by cat lovers and all librarians who wish they had a library cat,
Eva Lautemann - Library Journal
Myron's beguiling, poignant, and tender tale of survival, loyalty, and love is an unforgettable study in the mysterious and wondrous ways animals, and libraries, enrich humanity.
An abandoned kitten serves as balm, comic relief and social director to a hard-pressed Midwestern town. The feline came in through the book drop on a bone-crackingly cold winter's night. The place was the public library of Spencer, Iowa, where the corn grows nine feet high and the earth is so fertile "you would swear the ground is about to push up and tip the sky right out of the picture." But this was in the 1980s, when the farm crisis was in full tilt; lenders had foreclosed on 50 percent of the family farms in northwest Iowa by the end of the decade. Local librarian Myron paints a town in crisis: economically, socially and in terms of the human spirit. She was in crisis too and neatly tucks her own recovery into the larger story of the town's gradual rejuvenation. Named Dewey (after the decimal system), the kitten became the library mascot and a synecdoche: "He never lost his trust, no matter what the circumstances, or his appreciation for life .... He was confident." Myron doesn't overplay this metaphor, but works it subtly as she depicts the town's fortunes reviving and shows Dewey playing his role in that revival with composure, social skills, patience and a measure of mischief. In an easeful voice and with an eye for detail, she delineates Spencer: its economic swings, the lay of the land, the Prairie Deco downtown. Dewey is the pivot; he even became a bit of a national celebrity, and the New York Times ran his obit. He was, this loving account demonstrates, the right cat in the right place for Spencer and most certainly for its librarian. Intimate portrait of a place snugly set within its historical moment, preserved in Myron's understated, well-polished prose.
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