NOW I KNOW it's hardly idiosyncratic to point out that there's a dismaying trend towards books about felines. (I can see you throwing old shoes at me, even as I mention it, much as if I were in an alley, disturbing your sleep.) But it's no longer a trend, it's the curse of the cat people. And I take a morbid interest in it, because of the amount of adult brain power these books are consuming as they find their way into the marketplace. Fireside Books and Cornerstone Library, two trade paperback divisions of Simon and Schuster, actually elicited a stare of amazement from jaded old me when I noted that between them they had five different titles featuring you-know-whats: The French Cat by Sin,e, The Good Cat Book by Mordecai Siegal and Cat's Closet by Patty Brown and Jay David, with illustrations by Will Elder, plus a pair by Philip Lief, I Hate Cubes, Cats, Pac-Man and You, Too and The Cat's Etiquette Book.
Abbeville Press has a Count Catula calendar. Ballantine has three Garfield titles; Clarkson Potter, Simon Bond's 101 More Uses for a Dead Cat. NAL is offering a Cat Scrapbook by J.C. SuarMes and Gene Brown, while Harper & Row advertises The Cat's Pajamas by Former Book World columnist Leonore Fleischer. Ronald Searle's been drawing obese pussies for years; now he's got The Big Fat Cat Book (Little, Brown). Holt lists Celebrity Cats by Larry Wright and Newmarket, Love Is a Happy Cat by veterinarian Dr. Michael W. Fox. But enough. Sanity and good taste demand a halt. However, there are three other animal-related books that caught my eye -- The Better Mousetrap: A Miscellany of Gadgets, Labor Saving Devices, and Investions that Intrigue by Aaron E. and Cynthia L. Klein (Beaufort), The Last Great Race: The Iditarod Sled Dog Race by Tim Jones (Madrona) and Curious George Paper Dolls in Full Color (Dover). (Curious George, for those of you deprived readers, is a monkey.)
Actually, there are almost as many or more books about home computers and word processors as there are about cats. For example, a California company called Alfred Handy Guides is offering four new books in what appears to be a uniform series: Understanding Atari Graphics, Understanding Data Base Management, Understanding APL and Understanding LISP. (They already have helped 100,000 bookbuyers, according to the figures they advertise, "understand" Basic, Fortran, Pascal, Cobol and Artificial Intelligence.) Other publishers are mining identical hardware/software lodes; it's a boomtown atmosphere, obviously, for those who staked their claims early.
Babies have been making a comeback; once pets were "in" could infants be far behind? At Acropolis, Deborah Insel is publishing Motherhood: Your First 12 Months while Little, Brown has New York Times reporter Michael de Courcy Hinds and his wife Susan Lapinski bringing out In a Family Way: A Husband and Wife's Diary of Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Parenthood. Minnesota's Meadowbrook Press is offering The Parents'Guide to Baby & Child Medical Care by Terrill H. Hart, M.D.; McGraw-Hill has Pickles and Ice Cream: A Complete Guide to Nutrition During Pregnancy and Holt, What To Do When You Think You Can't Have a Baby by Karol White. The Ultimate Baby Catalogue by Michele Ingrassia Haber and Barbara Kantorwitz can be found in Workman's ad, while Harper's lists a book for non-parents, Diana Burgwyn's Marriage Without Children. And Nancy Reagan's book on the Foster Grandparent Program (it's a "with" book, Jane Wilkie being the collaborator) is coming out from Bobbs-Merrill.