In this election season, there are many books you could choose to help you through from Robert Caro’s magnum opus to the crush of books on any number of issues.
Or, you could turn to Sneaky Pie.
Now, full disclosure, Sneaky Pie is a cat, and she’s usually solving mysteries, as the main character in Rita Mae Brown’s bestselling series.
Rita Mae Brown is the author of almost 40 books, many of which feature animal protagonists. But she’s also known as a political activist, devoted to civil rights, gay liberation and women’s issues. In the 1960s, she had a famous run-in with the Grand Dame of second wave feminism, Betty Friedan, over her exclusion of lesbians from the movement. She’s also written several standalone novels, including the groundbreaking lesbian novel, Ruby Fruit Jungle.
Rita Mae Brown talked with Weekend Edition Sunday host Linda Werthiemer about her latest book and her affinity for animals.
On why she likes writing about animals: “We share the Earth with them and they have so many qualities superior to our own. For instance, a hound can smell time. There’s no way any of us can do that. If you put your dog out in an acre, that dog would know who was on that acre … maybe up to three days time. If we put four cameras on every corner, we would still never know what that dog knows.”
On why Sneaky Pete runs for president: “She meets other animals and discovers that the water supply is being both polluted and drained [and] the Earth is being played out. And that means all animals will die, not just humans. She realizes that we need the voices of other creatures [and] not just human beings.”
On why she cares for animals: “I do a lot of rescue work and it is the joy of my life. All of those years in politics I never got the satisfaction I got out of helping another living creature.”
On what books influenced her writing: “I was a classics major, so for me it was the plays of Aristophanes. In the 5th century B.C. in Athens, in the midst of a devastating war that ultimately destroyed Athens, he had the courage to write these screamingly funny plays against the power structure. That was the person who inspired me.”