Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lilian Jackson Braun

Cross-posted from my writing blog, The Girdle of Melian:

Qwilleran, Merlin James. Kao K'o Kung (Koko). Yum Yum.

I was all set to do a post on my knitting blog about the latest Lilian Jackson Braun book I've finished - The Cat Who Saw Stars - since it features an older Scottish gentleman in full regalia piping at the head of a parade that includes Qwilleran's oldest friend knitting a sock with four needles on the Friends of Wool float; and this coming Saturday is World Wide Knit in Public Day. But.

Found out this afternoon that Ms. Braun passed away last Saturday, at the age of 97, two weeks shy of her 98th birthday (condolences may be sent to the family here).

What's that you say? Never read a Cat Who... book? Well, I hadn't either, until I started writing my middle grade a few years ago. Every time I told someone there was a talking cat in it, they asked me if I'd read the Cat Who... books. So I finally picked up a couple at a second-hand bookstore. Well, Koko and Yum Yum are nothing like my Kedi - obviously those people had never read the books. If they had, they'd have been recommending them to me on their merits alone.

The Cat Who... series is part mystery, part social commentary, part ode to cats, part tribute to small town Northern America. There's a little bit of everything, in fact, and Qwilleran himself, the main journalist-crime solver-author-man about town is just the sort of well-rounded character you'd hope to meet someday. He'd sure treat you to a nice dinner out, at least.

Ah, heck. I'm not doing the flavour of the books justice at all. Why don't you start at the beginning, with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. Margot Kinberg had a post on The Cat Who Could Read Backwards a few months ago, which described it all a bit better. Also, Clarissa Draper included Lilian Jackson Braun in her list of 5 Most Influential American Woman Mystery Writers.

Here's the lady herself:

Ah yes, the knitting. But first, Christopher Smart, the 18th Century poet. Qwilleran quotes a few fragments in The Cat Who Saw Stars, on the subject of cats in general, and of Smart's cat Jeoffry, from Jubilate Agno:

"For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.

For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.

For he is of the tribe of Tiger.

For the sound of a cat is in the most useful preposition κατ' ευχην.

For the pleasantry of a cat at pranks is in the language ten thousand times over.

For the purring of a Cat is his τρυζει."

If anyone knows what the Greek words are, please tell me!

As for knitting... I've gone back to work on a scallop-edged blanket, but I seem to have lost the pattern since I last worked on this project. That's okay; all my spare moments are taken up with editing. A Round of Words in 80 Days: The past few days I've been drafting like mad, finishing up scenes that were missing. For a fourth draft, I seem to have quite a lot of blanks remaining!


  1. It says 0 comments. Yet I posted a comment here last week! I'm knitting sheep at the moment. I've not heard of this author before but will look her out now thanks :O)

  2. Thanks Madeleine! I posted the same post on my writing blog, maybe that's what you're thinking of?

  3. Don't worry, Deniz. You'll fill in those blanks, I have faith. But I can't fill in the Greek blanks....=)

  4. Thanks Jenn! Jessica Bell translated them over on the cross post. The second one is a sort of transliteration of a purr, apparently!

  5. Oh, I see, the second one is a sort of transliteration of a purr. Thanks for sharing this post, I'm always here to support you.

  6. I was so sad when I saw Ms Braun had passed away. The Cat Who ... might have been the first "adult" books I ever read. And now I write mystery!

    I see you have kilt hose you're working on--I've been meaning to get knitting on a pair for DH forever! What yarn & pattern are you using?

  7. I was saddened too, Jordan.

    Here's the kilt hose pattern I picked out; the directions are very detailed and easy to follow. It's easiest doing socks on the magic loop but since these are very detailed I opted to use a circular needle for each sock, rather than double pointed needles.
    I'm using Peruvian highland wool for it - I wanted to get as close to authentic as possible, but the Peruvian wool was more affordable than Scottish wool!
    Listen to me, I sound like I know what I'm talking about [g] Made a few mistakes already on the cables going up the shin, since I keep dropping the pattern and picking it up after so many weeks, forgetting where I was (no matter how many notes I make)...

  8. I always enjoy visiting your page.Thanks for sharing the books and rich contents with us on here.Hope u good.I just dropped another bomb of a poem on my blog so come check it out, comment and share with friends.Good day.

  9. I didn't know if my previous comments it's showing or not but i just want to reiterate on the fact that you always share wonderful things on here.I enjoy visiting your page.Keep the good work going.Hope u good.I just dropped another bomb of a poem on my blog so come check it out, comment and share with friends.Good day.