Within the first few pages of If Cats Disappeared From the World, the narrator learns of his imminent death. He returns to his apartment, where he lives alone with little contact with his family following his mother’s death, and seeks solace in the fur of his beloved cat, Cabbage. Before he can truly come to terms with his prognosis, he encounters the Devil, a Hawaiian-shirt-clad version of himself who informs him that he has just a day to live. But the Devil offers him a deal: in exchange for removing one thing from the world, the narrator will be granted an additional day of life. What follows is an unusual week of decisions, in which our narrator learns what really matters to him and what he’s willing to lose in order to live.
“Like love, life is beautiful because it has to end.”
To be quite honest, my favourite thing about this book was the cover. The story itself was sweet I suppose, and the relationship between the narrator and his cat, Cabbage, was lovely but that’s basically all I enjoyed about this little novel. I didn’t like the narration, which, to be fair, I imagine can be attributed to the translation. It just felt like I was reading something written by a pretentious American teenage boy.
I thought it would be interesting to see how the world changes when the narrator rids the world of particular things, but it was completely unexplored. He gets rid of two things that arguably saturate our lives – telephones and clocks – and nothing changes. Nothing. He gets a little wound up that he turns up to meet his ex-girlfriend and she’s not there and, because of the lack of phones, he can’t call her but that’s it. It’s barely mentioned again, and the disappearance of clocks is even more glossed over.
The overall message was very heavy-handed and over-explained, the ending was saccharine and cliché. It’s a quick read and entertaining enough for a couple of morning commutes so I’m not too disappointed but I don’t think I’d recommend it.
Rating: 2 / 5 stars