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Cats Versus Dogs
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Cats Versus Dogs

By 49thShelf
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The declaration of Andre Alexis's novel, Fifteen Dogs, as winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize has only stoked the fire of the millenniums-old rivalry between dogs and cats (and their respective owners). In this list of books, the pets are having it out in a veritable literary showdown.
Fifteen Dogs
Why it's on the list ...
Dog-lovers are gloating at the moment, what with the ascendance of the canine to literary glory via the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Maybe it's a dog's day after all?
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You are a Cat!

You are a Cat!

illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
edition:Paperback
tagged :
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Why it's on the list ...
But not so fast! Do the dogs have their own Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-styled graphic novel? I don't think so! A third of this book, which profiles a dysfunctional family, is written from a feline perspective. "The kittenish & catactular You Are a Cat! is the closest you’ll come to being a cat without dying and being reincarnated as one."
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To the Dogs

To the Dogs

edition:Hardcover
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Why it's on the list ...
Pshaw, say the dogs. We've got history on our side. And in this special hardcover book featuring 150 full-page photographs, that history (of the unique human-canine connection) is fully explored. "From Sparta to Stalingrad, the dogs of war, cleanup, guard duty, and companionship have been at our side; their loyalty knows no bounds."
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The Cat
Why it's on the list ...
The thing about the cats though is that they just don't care. History-schmistry, they mew. Because they've got this novel, The Cat, by award-winner Edeet Raval. Prolific cat-lover Joyce Carol Oates remarks, "In her evocation of grief, and the terrible loneliness of grief that is unfathomable to those who stand at a little distance from it, Edeet Ravel is utterly, heartbreakingly convincing. And in her rendering of the idiosyncratic nature of grief, that strikes each of us differently, she is poignant and compelling."
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In the Dog Kitchen

In the Dog Kitchen

Great Snack Recipes for Your Dog
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
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Why it's on the list ...
So what, the dogs answer. Throw me a bone! And so to that, we offer up this cookbook, by great Canadian foodie Van Rosendaal, of recipes for homemade dog treats. And there are even dog owners who love their pets enough to *make them*. Could cats ever be worthy of such culinary fare?
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This is the Cat

This is the Cat

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : humorous
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Why it's on the list ...
But there is more to life than food, the cats will answer. (Once they've been fed, of course. Until then, they will meow loudly and wind in between and around your feet until you trip. It's easier just to give in). There is such a thing as humour. Take this book, a darkly funny tale first published in 1998 by award-winning Newfoundland author Stapleton, rereleased early this year, featuring poor Bridie Savage: On top of everything, "[o]ne of her cats needs expensive allergy shots from the vet...the cat creeps in on little fog feet the little frigger, cats are the original false advertising..." Never let it be said that cats take themselves too seriously.
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Red Dog, Red Dog
Excerpt

It was stone country where a bone cage could last a thousand years under the moon, its ribs a perch for Vesper sparrows, its skull a home for Harvest mice. The hills rose parched from the still lakes, the mountains beyond them faded to a mauve so pale they seemed stones under ice. Sage brush and bitterroot weathered the September night. In the desiccated grass of a vacant lot, a rattle snake followed in the tracks of a Kangaroo mouse, a Fiery Searcher beetle clambered over the dried body of a dead Wood rat in the dust, and a magpie slept inside its wings on a branch of dying chokecherry, the berries hard as dog knots. Stars shone like sparks thrown from shattered quartz, Orion reeling in the southern sky and Mars sullen and red in the west.

In the heart of it was a valley leading nowhere out but north or south. North was going toward narrower cuts of rock, deeper winters, darker forests, and even more desolate towns that turned into villages, villages into clusters of trailers and isolated shacks in the trees, nothing beyond but bush that ran clear to the tundra. South was going toward the desert states where there was no place a man could get work unless he was Indian or wetback, someone willing to take cash wages half what anyone else might ask. The only way you could stay alive down in Washington or Idaho was to break your back in the onion fields and orchards, set chokers on a gypo logging show, or steal. East were mountains piled upon mountains, the Monashee giving over to the Selkirks and Purcells, and finally the Rockies and the Great Plains. To the west was a rolling plateau where nothing lived but moose, bear, and screaming, black- headed jays. At the edge of the plateau, the rolling forest rose up the Coast Range until it dwindled against the scree, and on the other side of the peaks and glaciers was the sea, something most people in the valley had only heard of, never seen, the Pacific with its waves rolling over the dead bodies of seals and salmon, eagles and gulls shrieking.

The town squatted in a bowl beneath desert hills, its scattered lights odd fires stared at from up on the Commonage where a rattlesnake could be seen lifting its wedge head from the heat- trail of a white- footed mouse and staring down at the three lakes, Swan in the north, Kalamalka to the south, and Okanagan in the west, the Bluebush hills and mountains hanging above them in a pall. Against the sky were rocky outcrops with their swales of rotted snow where nothing grew but lichens, pale explosions that held fast to the rough knuckles of granite as the long winds came steady out of the north. In the valley confluence where the lakes met were the dusty streets and avenues of the town shrouded by tired elms and maples. What the snake saw only it could know.

It was the hour after moonset, dawn close by. The darkness held hard on the Monashee Mountains. Eddy walked thin down a back alley halfway up the east hillside, his eyes blinkered, their blue faded to a mottled white, the colour of the junk in his veins. Ankle- deep yellow clay lifted and swam around his boots. Silica whirlwinds, they shivered behind his heels as they settled back into soft pools. He moved slowly between broken fences and sagging, fretful sheds. The open windows of houses gazed blind into backyards, sleepers heavy in narrow beds, sheets damp and crumpled at their feet. In the alley, wheat grass and cheat grass draped their seed heads over the shallow ruts. A single stem of spear grass brushed against Eddy’s pant leg and left two seeds caught in the wisps of cotton on his worn cuff. He waded on through dust, the seeds waiting for their moment to fall in what might be some giving dirt, some spot where life might find a place to hide in winter. The alley held the illusion of water, thin waves of powdered clay shot through with the dead leaves of grass and chicory.

A slender ghost, lean as a willow wand, Eddy flowed in the languid glow of the heroin he’d shot up a half-hour before. Sergeant Stanley’s German shepherd slept uneasy on its paws in the run next to the ashes of a burned- out shed. Eddy had set the shed on fire the week before. He’d watched the flames from his car on the hill above and imagined Stanley in the dark staring at the wild fire, raging.

Sergeant Stanley was nowhere around. Eddy knew he was likely taking his usual time with some frightened girl he’d picked up and squired out to the west side of the lake on some false, misleading threat or charge. Eddy had seen Stanley’s women. The cop took his due with all of them, each one owing him her body in unfair exchange for the cell she didn’t want to see, the father, friend, or husband she’d never tell. When he was a boy, he’d crouched behind a chokecherry bush up on the Commonage and seen Stanley with his pants open, a scared girl on her knees beside the police car, working for her life as she bruised her knees on rock shards in the clay.

The shed had been the first thing.

The dog would be the second.

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Why it's on the list ...
Nothing wrong with taking ourselves seriously, say the dogs. We've got literary pedigree. Not just this year's Giller, but how about this novel by award-winning poet Patrick Lane, which was shortlisted for the BC Book Prize's Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award, Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. So stop yer feline yowling.
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Cat Person
Why it's on the list ...
To which the cats respond by shrugging in particularly languid feline fashion and picking up this comic by Seo Kim about the artist and her farcical feline, Jimmy. Leaving the dogs avidly waiting for the kitties' response. Cats know how to play 'em. And when they're are finally finished reading, the cats consent to lower their books, the dogs panting, waiting. And then all creatures involved decide to call it a draw. For THIS round, at least...
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