Better than imagining them in their underwear: writers & kitties

The (in)famous V.S. Naipaul with a kitty.

I’m a writer. I’m a student of literature. I’m a teacher. In my literary bible, the words of Borges, Cortázar, Bishop, Hemingway, and company appear in red. (For you heathens, red-letter bibles have the words of Christ in red.)


Sometimes, though, it’s good to remember that even great writers and thinkers have (or had) to change their underwear and brush their teeth. They trim their toenails and take dumps. And they have kitties.

When I got the link to this site full of writers and their kitties, it changed my life. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. But it really does make a difference. Let’s take a recent example.

In an interview last week, the acclaimed Trinidadian writer V.S. Naipaul dished up a healthy serving of sexism, insisting, “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.” He attributed this inadquacy to women’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world…she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.” (Read more quotations from the interview here.)

That’s pretty inflammatory stuff, and we can have some good laughs at Naipaul’s expense–I started by taking The Guardian‘s gender and prose test. I also spent some time contemplating the irony of that “master of a house” comment… especially since A House for Mr. Biswas is all about a man’s ongoing failure to be master of a house.

But then I see a picture of V.S. with a kitty. And I just can’t stay mad. I start thinking of him trimming his toenails and clipping his nose hairs and being human. I mean, if he can pet a kitty, can he be that bad? (I’m sure this is dangerous logic.)

I’m also now considerably less intimidated by a number of authors. Here are a few of my favorite photos. Head over to Writers & Kitties for more.


Julio Cortázar and kitty.


Jacques Derrida and kitty.


Elizabeth Bishop and kitty.


Hemingway and kitty.


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