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Book Markers: 12.19.19

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 13:39

The Cat Comes Back — in Paperback

“Lost and Found Cat,” Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes’s picture book telling the remarkable tale of one resilient feline smuggled out of war-ravaged Mosul, Iraq, in 2015, only to be lost and later reunited with its family in Norway, was last week given new life of its own by way of a $7.99 paperback release from Dragonfly Books.

“The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey,” in the words of the subtitle, is told not only through warm and colorful illustrations by Sue Cornelison, but also with a map detailing the family’s travels west across Turkey to Istanbul, to the Greek island of Lesbos, and on to the north. And then there are four pages of Mr. Kuntz’s photojournalism showing the rescued cat, the reunion, and the plight of other refugees.

Mr. Kuntz, a contributing photographer for The Star, was indeed there, but more than that he personally delivered Kunkush from Germany to his owners in their new home in Norway. “We both went to Greece because we felt compelled to help,” the authors write in an afterword. “The refugee crisis is one of the most monumental events happening in our world today. Millions of people have fled countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and parts of Africa seeking a safer life.”

A portion of book sales goes to help refugees, wherever they might be.


“Small Rooms and Others”

That title refers to a story by J. Bryan McGeever detailing his dispiriting but necessary time in a closet-like fertility clinic space as he tries to muster a sample. He believes he damaged himself in this respect by ingesting too many anabolic steroids in his weightlifting youth.

This, obviously, is a confessional volume, just out from Unsolicited Press of Portland, Ore. A collection of essays and nonfiction articles, it opens and closes with two elegiac tales — a final tour of the McGeever family’s suburban Long Island house, the reminiscences involving cocaine use and a front-yard fistfight with his father, and a recounting of his dad’s wake, where the author contemplates the life-significance of sports (Marty Lyons of the Jets makes an appearance), the importance of a father’s mere presence in a son’s life, and how good the deceased looked in his straight-off-the-rack sport coat.

Mr. McGeever, a graduate of Stony Brook Southampton’s M.F.A. program, teaches English at a New York City public school. The essays in this book appeared in a wide variety of outlets, from The Christian Science Monitor to the online journal Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood to The Star. It also includes his reviews of books by Colson Whitehead and Ross Perlin that ran in these pages.

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