Yes it’s a new Sigrid Nunez novel with an animal on the cover and the book is about the death of a friend. But it’s not the same! First off, this has cats, but it’s not about cats. Not really.
“The cat came in on little fog feet.”
The book is about a narrator who has been asked to help a friend live out the remaining days after her cancer has returned. She was in remission, and the experimental treatments worked, and so the pain and discomfort had seemed worth it, until it didn’t.
We begin though with our narrator attending a lecture given by her ex who had been literary, but has turned himself into a climate change Cassandra, giving lectures where he refuses to take questions not about changing our ways before it’s too late, but to tell us that it’s already too late. You can imagine this is not a happily received.
So this book is about death. It’s about the ways in which we know about our own deaths, but don’t truly process that until we’re made to in some way. Climate change takes up this strange kind of paradox where the death of all humanity should not have to have much more weight than our own deaths, but it clearly takes on this other form of feeling (with good reason too). But that ultimately, how you die isn’t super important really.
So the book exists in those interstices. Where we experience a lot of noise and nothingness, both meaningless and poignant in given moments. It’s both sadder and funnier than the other Nunez novels I’ve read.