Robert Newton Peck Eden Ross Lipton - Essay

Eden Ross Lipton

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Wild Cat" is] is a deliberate backlash to the cloying sweetness of most cat books. [It is a] harsh, brutal, detailed moralistic naturalistic [story of a miserable urban cat's life cycle]….

The saga of "Wild Cat" begins in the womb and birth canal of a mother cat who is wedged in an alley somewhere, and moves briskly from one trauma (trucks, siblings being eaten, crunch, crunch, by dogs) to another (sex, rats, loss of mate, plunge into river, birth)…. The text has a sensual enthusiasm sometimes reminiscent of old-style pornography: "Her body felt the pain and shock of her first touch of a male. But then she relaxed to accept him until his body flooded her with the hot rush of his seed."

[This is] not the usual itsy-poo kitty-cat [book] for 8-year-olds who daydream of their pets in a pastel fantasy world and watch cat food commercials for reality therapy. And that's fine. Unfortunately [this book has] a relentless socialist-realist quality of didactic naturalism that is utterly humorless and unappealing.

Eden Ross Lipton, "Here Kitty, Kitty," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1975 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 4, 1975, pp. 37-8.∗

A sharply graphic narrative [Wild Cat] describes the harsh city existence of a wild calico cat…. Peck's careful prose is vivid. His word choices effectively maximize a reader's sensory perception of events, resulting in a calculatedly realistic, sometimes gruesome, but unsensationalized animal biography. (pp. 44-5)

"Children's Books: 'Wild Cat'," in The Booklist (reprinted by permission of the American Library Association; copyright 1975 by the American Library Association), Vol. 72, No. 1, September 1, 1975, pp. 44-5.

You can't completely resist these cow-licked rustics [in Soup & Me], and the holiday reminiscences … work best because we expect a certain amount of sentimental indulgence at that time of year. If only Peck weren't quite so taken with himself … he keeps telling us how cute these bratty boys are and you can't help wondering whether, like Soup, he's come to believe that he can sucker his friends into going along with anything.

"Younger Fiction: 'Soup and Me'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIII, No. 20, October 15, 1975, p. 1186.