Writers with years of experience in the yoke and thousands of pages inked eventually end up with what I call "a drawer." It's a chapter that had to be cut, an article or essay they never sold, or maybe manuscript that just never gelled. So the pages get put on the shelf - or in the drawer.
Then one day the writer might be thumbing though his Writer's Market, looking at random magazines and journals. He spots some obscure publication, and thinks: "Hey, I bet I can sell them that such-and-such thing I wrote nine years ago! It's in the drawer!"
Today, the ebook revolution, and especially the Kindle Singles format, has tempted many a writer to go drawer diving. That's the impression I get about PACO: THE CAT WHO MEOWED IN SPACE. There are more than a few marvelous gems in here, some truly juicy "insider" glimpses of what went on behind the doors of NASA, and great writing but ...
... but ... the fact is, this offering is a series of veering digressions and disjointed anecdotes glued together only loosely with a premise surrounding the author's cat. By virtue of belonging to a rocket scientist - Paco, the adorable kitty, earned a footnote in space exploration history by becoming the first cat to have his meow transmitted into space.
It's a wonderful story to be sure, but the kitty premise is not enough to carry an entire manuscript even as short as this. And so my impression is that author HOMER HICKAM went rummaging through his drawer for odds and ends to fill out a complete document.
Let me just say without an iota of cynicism - Homer Hickam is a man of such stellar accomplishment, and is such a powerful writer, hacks like me are unfit to as much as sit at his feet. His memoir ROCKET BOYS is one of the best I've ever read, and without question deserves to be a considered a classic of 20th Century American literature.
I am also the kind of person who should be "predestined" to love this Kindle Single: I own three cats, I'm an extreme cat lover; a did my graduate work in space studies at the UND's Center for Aerospace Sciences and worked in the industry; I'm a lifetime amateur astronomy nut; I'm a freelance writer and, like Hickam, I am fascinated with paleontology.
However ... well ... I'm not saying I didn't love this ...I freely admit I cried at the end ... (I really did) ... but ... this is not a piece of writing that hangs together as a whole. Furthermore, shoppers judging a book by its cover may get the impression they are buying an ebook primarily about a cat - and that's not what this is. What you actually get is a lot of personal observations, anecdotes and opinions about what was going on inside America's space program, especially the Space Shuttle era, and from a bona fide NASA insider.
If you love cats but are not particularly interested in space exploration, you may be disappointed. But if you love kitties and space both - this ebook is the cat's meow.
Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH