Iowa Librarian Vicki Myron Inks Million-Dollar Deal for Memoir About Dewey Readmore Books
"From beasts we scorn as soulless,
In forest, field, and den,
The cry goes up to witness
The soullessness of men."
-- M. Frida Hartley
Vicki Myron, director of the public library in tiny Spencer, Iowa, has signed a $1.2 million deal with Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) in New York to author a book on Dewey Readmore Books. (See photo above of her and Dewey.)
North American rights to the book already have been sold and negotiations are currently under way to unload the international rights as well. Bret Witter, former editorial director of Health Communications and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, has been hired to help her with the scribbling. Work is scheduled to begin on the manuscript any day now and the book should be in bookstores about a year from now.
Found stuffed into the library's book drop with frozen paws on a sub-zero January morning in 1988, Dewey recovered to serve as the library's mascot for nineteen years. As his notoriety spread, film crews from around the world came to do stories about him and vacationing tourists drove hundreds of miles out of their way in order to meet him.
Suffering from a hyperthyroid condition and stomach cancer, Myron took him to a veterinarian and had his life snuffed out last November 29th. (See Cat Defender post of December 7, 2006 entitled "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books.")
Recalling the impact that he had on people, Myron told the Des Moines Register on April 4th, "It just floored me. This is the way Dewey's whole life went. He drew people in his whole life from around the world. We had nothing to do with it. It's serendipitous." (See "Spencer Librarian Gets $1.2 Million Deal for Book on Cat.")
Following his killing, Dewey's remains were cremated and buried on the front lawn of the library. A black granite grave marker with a laser-scanned image of him is scheduled to be erected as soon as the ground warms up a little.
Myron has not revealed how she and Witter plan to divide the loot or if she intends to pocket her cut or to plow it back into the library. A book tour will no doubt ensue and a movie deal may not be totally out of the question.
With there being so much money and fame in the offing, Myron is quite naturally ecstatic. "Dewey's life was amazing all the way through and so is his death. He was an amazing cat and he still is," she gushed for the Des Moines Register.
Dewey was without doubt an exceptional cat and his story should be told. More importantly, the preservation of his memory will serve to encourage other libraries to give refuge to wayward cats.
Notwithstanding all of that, Myron's cashing in on Dewey's death is reminiscent of Colonel Parker's saying that Elvis would be worth more to him dead than alive. After all, she cruelly and unnecessarily had Dewey declawed and sterilized, fed him an unhealthy diet, and left him alone at the library for lengthy periods or time. No one who truly loves cats would have treated him so shabbily.
Most damning of all, she was too selfish and lazy to care for him in his old age and too cheap to provide him with the medical care that he needed in order to go on living. After all that he had done for both her and the library he certainly deserved a far better fate. It is a foregone conclusion that these unpleasant petits faits will be omitted from her narrative.
Her book will without doubt inspire others to treat cats in a more humane manner but respect for the rights of animals, like charity, begins at home.
Photo: Tim Gallagher of the Sioux City Journal.