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The Norton Trilogy by Peter Gethers
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The Norton Trilogy

by Peter Gethers

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I just finished The Norton Trilogy. Three books that covered the 16 years of Norton's life with his companion and author Peter Gethers. I do not know why I had never heard of Norton since he was well publicized in the media until I received a new book written by Gethers, Ask Bob, through Library Thing. I liked it so much I went looking for the Norton books.
Basically he writes about his relationship with his cat Norton as he travels the world with him. Norton loved going places, staying in hotels, and just being with Gethers. One of the great parts is how Norton figured out how to unlock the bedroom door latches. A message I understood in the end is not to be afraid to love, take chances, and enjoy your life with those you let into circle. Don't let your fears coward you into hiding from the joys in the world. ( )
  marilynsantiago | Aug 3, 2013 |
Barnes & Noble has published an omnibus edition of Peter Gethers' The Norton Trilogy, which is a series of snarkily humorous, bittersweet memoirs about the author's travels with his Scottish Fold cat, Norton. (The trilogy consists of: The Cat Who Went to Paris, 1991, 194 pps.; A Cat Abroad, 1993, 243 pps.; and The Cat Who'll Live Forever, 2001, 252 pps. The Barnes & Noble edition was published in 2005, and contains a new foreword and afterword by the author.)

My favorite book was A Cat Abroad, probably because it wasn't entirely a heart-warming tale of a remarkable Scottish Fold kitty, but was also an interesting and humorous travelogue of southern France, with incidental day-trips along the way; I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did had I failed to read The Cat Who Went to Paris first, though.

Gethers was a high-powered exec at Bantam Books and Random House who had a respectable career in TV and movies (he was a script doctor on the mediocre Roman Polanski flick Frantic; he had a bit of contretemps with that film's star, Harrison Ford, over Norton taking a dump in the bathtub in Polanski's hotel room); he was also a certified ailurophobe who was won over by the Scottish Fold kitten that his then-girlfriend presented him with upon returning from a visit with his brother (who had a Fold of his own). Gethers' decision to tone down his hotshot publishing executive lifestyle more or less coincided with his falling in love with his small kitty (Norton never weighed more than nine pounds), whom he christened Norton in honor of Art Carney's character on The Honeymooners; unwilling to leave him home alone for prolonged periods and unwilling to totally give up his social life, Gethers began taking Norton with him pretty much everywhere he went, to the bemused delight of nearly everyone who saw him, if Gethers is to be believed. (A notable exception was Lauren Bacall, as related in The Cat Who'll Live Forever; still, Ms. Bacall would've done better to direct her invective at her "dear, dear friend," Sir Anthony Hopkins, than at Gethers, as it was Hopkins who insisted that Gethers bring Norton to his post-charity event reception on Long Island, and Hopkins and his wife who ignored their friends and well-wishers in preference of spending quality time with Norton.) I'm not sure if Norton would've -- or could've -- won over convicted cat-haters such as Harlan Ellison; but it would take a pretty grim and unlovable sort of git indeed not to be eventually won over by Norton's quiet charm and intrepid dignity.

People magazine likened the final book in the trilogy, The Cat Who'll Live Forever, as "Tuesdays With Norton" (in reference to Mitch Albom's feel-good weeper, Tuesdays With Morrie); while I never actually bawled while reading it, my "allergies" certainly acted up a time or three, possibly the most strongly over the reprint of Norton's obituary in The New York Times (which ran on Wednesday, 12 May 1999; touchingly, the NY Times had a file photo of Norton, but not of Gethers). My sniffles weren't wholly ones of sadness either: Norton had an excellent life, perhaps one of the all-time best lives of any domestic cat ever, and certainly better than that of far too many people. (His life was much more interesting than mine.) If anything, half of my tears were like those of Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "I'm crying -- because -- I'm so -- happy...." Though Gethers may have named his Scottish Fold after the inspiration for Barney Rubble, one gets the impression by the end of the trilogy that this kitty's true namesake was "Norton the First, by the grace of God Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico:" an eccentric San Franciscan so saintly that he once halted an anti-Chinese riot by standing between the mob and their Chinese targets and reciting the Lord's Prayer.

In short, while these books should appeal to all but the most vehement cat-haters, cat nuts should be sure to keep a box of Kleenex handy when reading The Norton Trilogy; you know: in case of, uh, "allergies."

Rating: 3 stars each for The Cat Who Went to Paris and The Cat Who'll Live Forever; 3½ stars for A Cat Abroad. ( )
  uvula_fr_b4 | Mar 11, 2007 |
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