It's as if Fup has woken to some alternate reality where her brain insists,
"I am a caterpillar. I am a caterpillar. I am a caterpillar."
She slinks past two customers, her belly to the tile. She reaches the
wall, attempts to scale it, and again falls flat on her back. There she
remains, her legs flailing in the air, until (this time) Ryan sets her back
on her paws. No cat has ever appeared more out of touch with its body.
Fup is the slightly famous cat at Powell's Books, in Portland, Oregon. Powell's is a slightly more famous independent bookstore, marked by its massive size (four stories and one entire city block, plus several other individual storefronts around Portland) and its employees' strong knowledge and love of books.
Fup's adventures with Bear and Oliver and other friends are detailed in Powells' weekly email newsletters. This sounds cutesy, but it's actually very well-written and interesting, like the rest of their creative and quirky inclusions. Blank space between book reviews or event announcements is often filled with breaking news about commas getting reelected as the predominant space holders in between thoughts, or a solo by the lowercase letter "d." This sense of slightly nerdy and surrealist fun reaches its climax in Fup's stories at the end of each issue.
According to the bookstore, the weekly newsletter and its sometimes serialized, sometimes stand-alone anecdotes of Fup's life are followed by a quarter of a million subscribers. The stories are told from Fup's point of view, with considerable dry, deadpan wit and often touching views into the animals' lives.
"Maybe we ought to call the vet," Lisa suggests. She's been working up to
this decision all morning. In fact, she's about to tell the curious cats
gathered round to go watch the parade for awhile when Bear pulls her aside.
"It's performance art," he explains.
Fup, meanwhile, tries the wall one more time, with predictable results.
Fup's website, besides archiving the stories from the newsletter, offers a few acerbic and well-phrased book reviews from the apparently extremely erudite animal. Unlike such two-dimensional caricatures as Garfield, Fup has canine friends and talks about her faith in dogs; in fact a dog named Zooey is one of the most frequent characters in her stories.
The dog's name is apt: these small stories are often told in a slow, relaxing pace much like that of Salinger's work, ambling along just sort of thinking about words and stories and caterpillars. They began with a few jolts and bumps, the human retelling them calling Fup "he" and tossing around foolish human ideas about animal motivations -- both to her great disapproval -- but soon Fup found her own voice and took the stories over entirely.
Georgie, just now arriving on the scene, can't hold back her horror. "Have
you people no mercy?" she exclaims. "Someone help that poor caterpillar!"
You can read the stories yourself or sign up to receive the newsletter at http://www.powells.com/fup.
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