Middling Industries recently conducted an observation on what its famous cat does in a day. This was charted across a duration of 1 month, in the house of R.S. Vern (owner/ writer of Haee). At the end of it, we asked Haee if he feels happy and contented doing the things he does everyday. This was what Haee said:
“Although I go through a standard and comfortable routine everyday, it does not mean I am totally happy with what I do. Although I am well-fed and never have to worry about going hungry, it does not necessarily mean I am fully contented. I often wish I have more time in a day. If I could have an extra 2 hours everyday, I would choose to exercise and get fit.”
We believe what Haee meant by exercising is simply wandering around the house. But this is based on our assumptions only.
The art of children’s fiction lies in its emotional resonance and imaginative scope. Quite simply, a book without either of these factors is simply an illustrated waste of time. “The Unconventional Life of Haee” is the story of a cat who leaves a comfortable home in search of adventure. He wanders into a back alley where other cats hunt insects, vermin, and chew on the leftovers from a poorly-run pizza shop. An outcast cat named Whie temporarily manages to convince the other cats to give up their hunting in favor of a vegetarian, all-pizza diet, thus creating a utopia known as “Green Alley.” Eventually, a huge, somewhat thuggish interloper cat named Samzie invades the alley and refuses to abide by the rules. The pizza shop closes, the cats scatter, and Haee, the titular cat and hero of our story, moves on.
In terms of emotional resonance, “The Unconventional Life of Haee” is immediately engaging to the reader. The cats humorously impersonate feelings of wanderlust, unconventionality, and stubbornness. The imaginative quality of the story is less stellar, in part because many of the accompanying illustrations are repeated. Whether this repetition occurs in order to save the effort of coming up with a new image or as part of a weak stab at humor is unclear. However, when the cats interact with one another, the book is funny, if only because the interactions hint at the complexity of real human societies.
While “The Unconventional Life of Haee” is bold in its attempt to tackle serious issues of conservation, group dynamics and the importance of hygiene in the work place, it is not a classic in the canon of illustrated kid’s fiction. However, it does provide a welcome chuckle, even to the most hardened reader.
Middling Industries proudly announces “Haee The cat with a crooked tail” as the winner of IndieReader Discovery Awards 2013 under kid’s category. First published in June 2012, this is the first book in its series “Haee and the other middlings”.
R.S. Vern, creator and author of this series, says she is deeply encouraged by this win. When she first started writing this series, her purpose was to deter children from wanting to grow up too fast and furious. Through the ingenious eyes of a cat, she pans out a story about the endless frustrations and dilemmas adults face in this middling world of the 21st century.
R.S. Vern calls herself one serious middling – urbanised, bored, most of the time, confused. She recounts a particular incident at a dinner party which left her a deep imprint that fueled her writing on middlings.
“I was at a dinner party surrounded by great friends, drinking myself silly when I suddenly looked around me and I felt very alone. I was listening and not listening at the same time when the hostess was giving her speech and I had all kinds of silly thoughts running through my mind. What if I was born differently? What if this was the 1940s? What if George Clooney truly asked me out for breakfast? Would I say yes? What if Lady Gaga was my girlfriend? Would I start wearing her underwear? But there wasn’t any what-ifs. There was only as-is. The present, the truth and you.” – R.S. Vern
Middlings, as R.S. Vern defines, almost always wish they can have a different life. Even when you drive a fast car, have a great career, a great bunch of friends to hang out with, you’ll still think of having another life. And you feel trapped when 99% of the time, you are almost never going to have that other life. You go on searching for new experiences, at times feeling lost and aimless. But Vern believes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So for you alone, bored and lost people out there, take on chance on this very peculiar indie read.
About IndieReader Discovery Award The goal of the annual IndieReader Discovery Award (IRDA) is to find talented writers and great books and is open to all self-published books with a valid ISBN. Judging is based on the quality of writing and the originality of the story. The judging panel includes top agents, traditional publishers, PR people, bloggers, and book reviewers. More information at http://indiereader.com/2013/06/meet-your-2013-irda-winners-and-buy-their-books/
This is an interesting book, focusing on the ideas of need versus want, what is self-fulfillment and exploring our motivations.
It’s a short read, interspersed with beautiful images of Haee and the other characters.
I’m not sure that I really ‘got’ this book on the first read, and I suspect it is one of those books that you can turn to again and again and find different things, dependent upon your mood.
It is thought provoking as we see the human characters stuck in a life they think they should lead, rather than the one they want to lead. I suspect that a young adolescent would take the most from this book as they sit at a crossroad in life, making choices that will impact their future.
All in all an intriguing, well designed ebook. It is well edited and a well thought out and put together package.
Another wonderfully illustrated book from R.S. Vern, again following the life of Haee, the middling cat….
This book again observes those that are not quite pursuing a ‘normal’ life but also looks at the consequences of everyone being a middling… it doesn’t quite work, everyone (and thing) has a place in the world, and they contribute, each in their own way, no matter how trivial that contribution may be!
The images in the book are again wonderful, and really capture the idea of Haee and his other friends.
Certainly a quick and easy read that will provoke different ideas each time you pause to read it.
What would it feel like to see the world through the green eyes of a cat? No need to guess, just read “The Unconventional Life of Haee” by R.S. Vern. The story made me keep turning the pages till the very end, as the writing generates beauty through its simplicity. The protagonist is Haee, a cat who prefers the eventful life in the back alley to the monotony of the role of a domestic ‘pet’. Rejecting the safety of a routine life, Haee takes the hard path and encounters several other cat-characters who display a wide and a very interesting diversity of attitudes and behavior. The story is all about how Haee reconciles with this society.
The plot bears features of an allegory, as it contains several levels of understanding. “The Unconventional Life of Haee” can be read and enjoyed as a simple tale woven around an alley-cat, although it has a deeper layer of ideas inter-twined in it. The themes are not made lessons. They are presented just as parts of the world it describes. The cats who appear through the pages of the book epitomize certain stereo-typical characters in human society. They have deep-rooted norms or conventions. Some differ from the majority and live silently. Then there are trouble-makers, like Haee, who change, and who wish to change their immediate world as well. What happens when unconventional attitudes meet standard conventions? R.S. Vern tries to analyse it through her fiction. It being the second book of a series, the writing denotes wit, subtle humor and even cynicism towards the absurdities found in the human world. The story is strewn with illustrations which contribute considerably to the artistic value of this piece of writing. Read “The Unconventional Life of Haee” and enter into the bizarre world of Green Alley, where cats are vegetarians.
Reviewed by Gayani Hathurusingha for Readers Favorite