Woe: A Housecat’s Story of Despair

Book cover of "Woe: A Housecat's Story of Despair" and photo of author Lucy Knisley.
By Sarah Smith, Adult Services

I very much enjoyed reading an advance copy of “Woe: A Housecat’s Story of Despair,” the latest book by comics creator Lucy Knisley. If you’re an animal lover, I think you’ll enjoy this book too! In fact, I’m so certain that you’ll like this book that I asked Lucy if she’d be able to stop by Dubuque on her book release tour for “Woe” and she said yes!

That’s right! You can meet Lucy Knisley at Carnegie-Stout Public Library at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 5, 2024! River Lights will be here with copies of her books to purchase and you can even ask Lucy for her autograph.


It wasn’t surprising how much I enjoyed “Woe.” I’ve long been a fan of Lucy’s work and I’ve always loved cats. My first word was “cat,” but family allergies meant that my first cat didn’t come into my life until my 30s. His name is Dexter and he is the best, softest, most wonderful cat in the entire world and he is going to live forever.

Photo of a gray tabby cat outside in a garden.
Sarah’s cat, Dexter.

I know that isn’t really true. I have met many incredibly soft and wonderful cats in my life, Dexter is not perfect (he once destroyed a stack of library books with projectile vomit), and I know that none of us live forever. But oh my goodness, this collection by Lucy Knisley perfectly captures the emotions around living with a beloved cat and the knowledge that someday they will leave you.

You might have seen some of Lucy’s comics featuring the fluffy orange cat named Linney collected in this book on social media. Linney’s personality was aristocratic and full of drama, her behavior both sweet and frustrating. Lucy’s art and text both convey Linney’s forceful charm and the universal joy and heartbreak of pet ownership.

If you’re familiar with cats, you’ll know about their ability to become a boneless liquid and morph into seemingly impossible shapes, while still maintaining, somehow, the sense of cat. Lucy’s illustrations show the impressive flexibility of the average housecat, while also highlighting her particular cat’s unique spirit. That she can draw a roundish orange lump with eyes that is not only recognizable as Linney, but also conveys her mood is impressive.

If you’re considering bringing a cat into your home, we’ll also have information from both the Dubuque Regional Humane Society and Whispurring Hope Rescue. Both Linney and Dexter were adopted as older cats from local shelters, and I highly recommend allowing one of these adorable beasts to take control of your heart and your home.

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