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Published in: July-August 2022 issue.


I FIRST DISCOVERED James Kirkwood’s 1972 novel P. S. Your Cat Is Dead in 1974 at the now defunct Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop on Christopher Street. While waiting for my train back to Poughkeepsie, I became so engrossed by the novel’s fast-paced antics that I let one train depart, and then another, and yet another, until I finally had to take the last train of the day or resign myself to sleeping overnight on one of the carved oak benches that filled the waiting room in Grand Central Station.

            The novel was simply too engaging to put down. Jimmy Zoole, having arrived at the theater earlier that day to learn that he’d been replaced by another actor, returns to his five-story walk-up in a soon-to-be-demolished building in Hell’s Kitchen on New Year’s Eve only to discover his girlfriend Kate hurriedly packing. She had hoped to finish moving out before Jimmy returned home from rehearsal. The bitter exchange that precipitates her eventual departure inadvertently leads to his discovery of a cat burglar under his bed—the very one who had already robbed the apartment twice in recent months, and who had now returned for a third try on New Year’s Eve. Jimmy accidentally knocks out the intruder and, uncertain what to do with him, ties him up over a heavy butcher block next to the kitchen sink, pours himself a drink, and sits down to weigh his options.

James Kirkwood

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Raymond-Jean Frontain is professor of English at the Univ. of Central Arkansas.