The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 31, 2014

January 31, 1923

Sasha Piskalev, a Russian medical student in Minsk, was in love with Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova. It was 1960 when they started dating, going to dances, taking walks together. Until the next spring when Marina began to avoid Sasha. He was a simple lad but knew he loved Marina and dogged her path to be with her even briefly, even knowing she was trying to avoid him. Sasha was not sure what was wrong, but "as they say in Minsk, 'there was a black cat running between us.'" And later when he found out she was engaged to another, Sasha sought out her presence, and then "felt as if a cat were in his soul, scratching with it's paws."

The story is true. The metaphors are probably Russian, but the prose is that of Norman Mailer (January 31, 1923 to November 10, 2007). Marina would marry an American named Lee Harvey Oswald. The details are in Mailer's book Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery (2007).

Mailer since his first book, The Naked and the Dead, (1948) was America's intellectual, ostentatiously trying to understand the American soul. It may be because of his ambitious reach that what some remember best are his spectacular failures of insight, like his part in obtaining freedom for a murderer, Jack Abbott,  who quickly murdered again. Mailer had been impressed with the fellow's literary talent.  But once, his Armies of the Night,(1968) were ours too, and we were happy he was on our side.

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