The new book I wrote with Carol Guess, With Animal, was motivated by a lot of things, one of which is a deep love and respect for animals, both human and non-human. I’ve been interested and active in animal rights for nearly two decades now, and so I’m delighted that this organization, Our Hen House, is featuring a story from With Animal on their website and hosting a giveaway for the book. Check them out, and consider making a donation if you like what you see.
I struggle, as I know many people do, with balancing the many different kinds of injustices that demand my personal and our collective attention. Sometimes I feel pressure to rank them: who/what will get more of my time and money and words? When I feel overwhelmed by all this, I often return to a story written by Lorrie Moore, “Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens.” In it, a woman insists on grieving over the death of her cat, Bert, in spite of the pressure of her family and friends to move on. Toward the end of the story, the narrator comes to this conclusion: “You couldn’t pretend you had lost nothing. A good cat had died — you had to begin there, not let your blood freeze over. If your heart turned away at this, it would turn away at something greater, then more and more until your heart stayed averted, immobile, your imagination redistributed away from the world and back only toward the bad maps of yourself, the sour pools of your own pulse, your own tiny, mean, and pointless wants. Stop here! Begin here! Begin with Bert!”