Caveat Emptor


Caveat Emptor
The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

Ken Perenyi
Pegasus Books, 2012

From the dust jacket: “Ten years ago, an FBI investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the southern District of New York was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have headlined the front pages in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents through a labyrinth of art dealers, renowned experts, and major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite the abundance of evidence collected. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure.”
“Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, this book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off.
“…Caveat Emptor is unique in that it is the first book by and about America’s most talented art forger. And unlike other forgers, Perenyi produced no paper trail, no fake provenance whatsoever; he let the paintings speak for themselves. And that they did, routinely mesmerizing experts in mere seconds.”

This is one of those books that if you read it as fiction or saw it as a movie, you would say ‘that can’t ever happen’. You know the phrase, “The truth is stranger than fiction”? Well, there was never any more truer statement as can be said about this book and about the life its author led (and may still lead). Quite simply, it blew my mind.

Not only is the author incredibly talented – I would say genius/savant level talent – but instinctively aware of what not to do so he doesn’t get caught. Of course, I was truly bothered – no, appalled is a better word – by his lack of basic moral values regarding theft and lying. There was some outright theft but it was more disturbing to me that he spent almost his entire early career lying by omission. He copied great works of art, signed the artist’s name to it but when he offered it for sale – whether to an auction house or a private seller/dealer, he walked up to the line but never crossed it – meaning, he never actually said the painting was by the artist or that he had painted it, just that he had ‘found’ it. It’s a slippery slope he was on and by a measure grace from somewhere he was incredibly successful at it.

The book is very readable – I don’t know if the author is as talented in writing as he is in painting or if he had a ghost writer – but I couldn’t put the book down. He takes the reader through a brief history of the Psychedelic Sixties, the Disco Seventies, the Over Indulgent Eighties, and all the way to the early 2000’s. Forging art was his life and, according to his website ( it still is, only he’s upfront with the forgery instead of keeping it hidden. Fascinating, truly fascinating. If you like books about interesting people, read this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because I couldn’t put it down, I just read straight through to the end.




The Photographed Cat


The Photographed Cat:
Picturing Human-Feline Ties, 1890-1940

Arnold Arluke & Lauren Rolfe
Syracuse University Press, 2013

From the book jacket: “With more than 130 illustrations, The Photographed Cat: Picturing Human-Feline Ties, 1890-1940 is both an archive and an analytical exploration of the close relationships between people and their cats during a period significant for photography and for modern understandings of animals as pets. This volume examines the cultural implications of feline companions while also celebrating the intimacy and joys of pets and family photographs. In seven thematic sections, Arluke and Rolfe engage with the collection of antique images as representations of both real and ideal relationships, nothing the cultural tends and tropes that occur. Whether as surrogate children, mascots or companions to women, cats are a part of modern American life and visual culture.
“Entertaining, smart, and filled with a collector’s trove of wonderful images, The Photographed Cat pays homage to the surprising range of relationships we have with cats and offers thoughtful consideration of the ways in which represent them.”

The Photographed Cat is more of a scholarly work than a book of photographs. The photos are really wonderful and I wish there were more of them. While people have changed the way they look, cats don’t ever change. The cat next to the little boy in 1890 looks like the cat sitting next to a child today which goes to show you humans how reliable and faithful we are!!

I will admit that I really didn’t read the book. When my Aunt Sabina picked-up this book from the library, she thought it was a coffee table book. But as I looked at it, I realized I didn’t want to read the “analytical exploration of the close relationships between people and their cats” as much as look at the lovely photographs. From the few snippets I did read the book is fascinating but a bit like reading homework for a sociology course. So, I just mainly stuck to the photographs and enjoyed them a lot.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because the photograph collection is amazing!!





If It Fits, I Sits


If It Fits, I Sits
Cats in Awkward Places

Gallery Books, 2016

From the back of the book, “Anyone who knows cats knows how much they love squeezing themselves into weird, uncomfortable-looking, and unfortunate places. And they do it with such aplomb! Will we ever know why? Probably not. With more than one hundred photos of cats caught in the act, If It Fits, I Sits celebrates the quirky, adorable, no-nonsense spirit of felines everywhere.”

It’s amazing what we felines can get up to, isn’t it? We can get ourselves in the craziest places and in the oddest positions and still be comfortable. This book is full of photos of cats doing just that and some of them are really funny.

I will admit I was worried a little when I saw some of the photos of cats and kittens in outdoor places. I hoped they weren’t strays left to fend for themselves. And that brings up the only thing I didn’t like about the book – that there is no identifiable author and maybe 98% of the photos came from various ‘stock’ sources online. That worries me because with other books, the author/compiler/photographer goes to great length to say no cats were harmed and all the cats were either rescued or adopted. The ones inside are probably fine. But it’s the outdoor kitties where I pause.

Rating 3 out 5 paws only because I worry about the fate of the outdoor kitties in these photos.

if-it-fits-i-sitsReviewer: Simon




The Enchanting World of Kitty Wigs

Julie Jackson
Photographs by Jill Johnson
Chronicle Books, 2009

If you like cats…and even if you don’t, you’ll find this book to be charming! It’s a photography book so it’s all about cats in wigs. No cats were harmed in the making of this book; however, they were coerced with lots of treats!glamourpussb

Here’s what the author says: “Why not introduce a glamorous hairstyle to spark your pet’s imagination while you snap some photos. The world is overcrowded with insulting T-shirts and booties for dogs and fluffy collars for cats that make them look like court jesters. Your fabulous feline is so much better than that, and you both know it.”glamourpussc

So, enough with the words. Let’s just get on with it and show some adorable photos. Make sure you visit the website for more fun!!!glamourpussd

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because who doesn’t love cats in wigs! (My mom just better not try any on me!!)


Reviewer: Jack



Julia’s Cats

In honor of the upcoming cooking holiday we are reposting a book originally reviewed on July 18, 2015. Julia Child was the cook of all cooks, so we are also honoring her.


13429722Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats

Patricia Barey and Therese Burson
Abrams Image, Abrams Books, 2012

Who knew Julia Child was a life-long cat lover? I only knew of her as someone who had a strange voice, was really tall and seemed to be able to cook very well. But, as we learn in this book, Julia fell in love with cats when she and Paul first lived in Paris. And because she spent her life moving around so much that she was unable to keep one permanently (her in-residence cats were always on loan from friends) until her last year of life. But everywhere she went if Julia wasn’t talking food, she was talking cats!

Chapter One: La Belle France: A New Life Begins – Julia and Paul move to Paris as newlyweds and set up housekeeping. She would soon find out mice were prevalent in her building as well as Paris and all good French housewives had at least one mouser in residence. She ended up with a tortieshell which she named Minette.

Chapter Two: And Kitty Makes Three: Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child – Minette settled into being the pampered, spoiled and plump cat of the house, feasting on every tidbit that fell to the floor as Julia was learning the art of French cooking.

Chapter Three: Mastering The Art of French Cooking – Julia goes to the famous Cordon Bleu, and Minette has her own reserved stool in her mistress’s kitchen. After four years Julia and Paul have to leave France for a new posting (Paul worked for the Foreign Service). Sadly, Minette must be left behind, but she is welcomed by a recently cat-widowed lady. This lady owned a charcuterie(sausage & meat shop), so the sweet feline would be well fed!

Chapter Four: Return to Paradise: A House in Provence – Julia and Paul lease property and build a small cottage close by their dear friends in Provence and are not only blessed with a whole cadre of felines on site, but they pick one to spoil and name him le PetitPrince. They were only in Provence for short stays before crossing back to America. They kept this up for many years, and with each visit, there were always enough cats around for Julia to indulge.

Chapter Five: From Cambridge to California: A Homecoming – By now Julia is widowed (Paul died in 1994) and a world famous cook (she didn’t consider herself a chef) and only visited Provence a few more times before finally settling in California. In 2004, Julia adopted her last kitten, Minou, whom she loved until her death in August, shortly before her 92nd birthday.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Julia Child with an emphasis on her love of cats versus her love of food. Oh, the food-love was in the book and the descriptions of fresh vegetables and cooked meals made me hungry every time I read it. But it was surprising and joyous to know her three favorites were food, cats and her Paul (though not always necessarily in that order!).

If you want a quick look at the life of Julia Child, a brief travelogue of France, and a life-long romance between best friends, this is the book for you! And, it wouldn’t be a book about a world famous cook without a recipe, so one is included on the very last page of the book. It is Julia’s recipe for Langues-de-chat (Cat’s Tongue Cookies) – delicate ladyfinger-like cookies – for humans, not cats!

We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge: 2015, category, Read a Book Found on a Library Display. Auntie Sabina was wandering through the library looking for a book to read and she just happened upon this one!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because of all the wonderful cats!

jackReviewer: Jack