Finishing a book and feeling compelled to turn to the first page again to reread it is not something I do a lot but The Cat s Table is just such a book The writing is quietly beautiful and the descri
Finishing a book and feeling compelled to turn to the first page again to reread it is not something I do a lot but The Cat's Table is just such a book. The writing is quietly beautiful and the description of the long vanished world of a 1950's trip on an ocean liner is perfect. The reread offers extra insights into that world and underlines the complexity of Ondaatje's story telling. There are many hints of the events to come but they remain quite subtle, not at all menacing. In fact the dramatic events which enfold are always secondary to the descriptions of the passengers and the slices of their lives which we are offered so compellingly. In any case, Ondaatje doesn't really bother too much with tying up the loose ends of the plot - he leaves some things to our imagination.The best The Cat's Table By Michael Ondaatje is Books A spellbinding story by turns poignant and electrifying about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.In the early 1950s, an eleven year old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England At mealtimes he is seated at the cat s table as far from the Captain s Table as can bA spellbinding story by turns poignant and electrifying about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.In the early 1950s, an eleven year old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England At mealtimes he is seated at the cat s table as far from the Captain s Table as can be with a ragtag group of insignificant adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury But there are other diversions as well one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature The narrator s elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself with a distant eye for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire Another Cat s Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps than what she seems And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story by turns poignant and electrifying about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.. He was born to a Burgher family of Dutch Tamil Sinhalese Portuguese origin He moved to England with his mother in 1954 After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen Ondaatje studied for a time at Bishops College School and Bishop s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, but moved to Toronto and received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen s University in Kingston, Ontario and began teaching at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario In 1970 he settled in Toronto From 1971 to 1988 he taught English Literature at York University and Glendon College in Toronto.He and his wife, novelist and academic Linda Spalding, co edit Brick, A Literary Journal, with Michael Redhill, Michael Helm, and Esta Spalding.Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje s work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film.Ondaatje has, since the 1960s, also been involved with Toronto s influential Coach House Books, supporting the independent small press by working as a poetry editor.In 1988 Michael Ondaatje was made an Officer of the Order of Canada OC and two years later became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.He has two children and is the brother of philanthropist, businessman, and author Christopher Ondaatje.In 1992 he received the Man Booker Prize for his winning novel adapted into an Academy Award winning film, The English Patient.. Bestseller Ebook The Cat's Table It's a four-star book with five stars. I'll explain in a minute.I'm still thinking on the Cat's Table. I've enjoyed Ondaatje's poetry more than his novels and this book seems to straddle those categories a bit. He writes beautifully on the visual and emotional fronts. He structures long works creatively and I'm still trying to decide how well this one works for me.The Cat's Table is, primarily, a story of a three-week voyage by ship, from Colombo to London. Its focus is on three unrelated and unsupervised boys and their interactions with fellow travelers, especially those assigned to their low-profile dinner table. It's a 1952 bit of exotica and bildungsroman with flashes into the future to see how these characters fare or have been effected by events along the voyage.I think the structure lessens the emotional impact a bit, but I'll keep thinking on it for a while. Sometimes a really excellent book will have characters that come back to the front of my mind over the course of years. I can almost imagine the ship and the lights of the Suez Canal at night coming back to me, but not the characters.So, five stars?If you are an author who wants to evoke a powerful emotional response, there are some easy paths to this: rape, torture, abuse of children or other innocents, messy divorces, cancer, etc. Some of these things are fairly common in our lives, some much less so. All can be used for shock value and as a foil for characters to be tested, to explain their growth or diminishing.As a reader, often but not exclusively, of what passes as serious literature (I want to read short lists for the Booker and Tournament of Books selections and Pulitzers and National Book awards) I want to see what an author can say about life without resorting to these easy obstacles. Being wiped out in a drug deal gone bad is not particularly enlightening. I am shocked but not improved in any way from the depiction of a brutal rape either from the victim's or the aggressor's point-of-view. What is particular bothersome is that these shortcuts are more frequently becoming the path toward critical acclaim and awards.So, in some categories of literature, I'm taking away a star or more for authors that require this little bit of shock value to propel their characters or add weight to their writing. Likewise, I'll add a star to authors that can get by without it. Ondaatje has written beautifully and thoughtfully about humanity enlarged by events and gets one rape-free star bonus point.
The Cat s Table by Michael Ondaatje The Cat s Table is the story a year old boy named Michael, told by him and describing his three week journey from the land that was once called Ceylon to the grand country of England by sea Michael is a lone traveler, leaving the only country he knows for a completely unknown one. The Cat s Table Ondaatje, Michael Books The boy s companions at the so called cat s table, where the ship s unconnected strays dine together, become his friends and teachers, each leading him closer to the key that unlocks the Oronsay s mystery decades later Elegantly structured and completely absorbing, The Cat s Table is a quiet masterpiece by a writer at the height of his craft. The Cat s Table The Cat s Table Summary Study Guide Michael Ondaatje s novel, The Cat s Table, is the coming of age tale of an ll year old boy named Michael who takes a day sea journey in the s Leaving his home on the island state of Ceylon now called Sri Lanka , just south of India, Michael boards a passenger ship called the Oronsay bound for England, where he will be reunited with his mother. The Cat s Table The Barnes Noble Review Oct , Quibbles aside, The Cat s Table is a wildly ambitious novel that bravely depicts not just the prosaic, institutionalized version of evil colonial privilege but also the moral blindness that sometimes came in its wake, lapses of judgment originating in sympathetic identification with fellow insignificants, the least privileged and most maligned. Cat s Table Ondaatje LitLovers Cat s Table Ondaatje In the early s, an eleven year old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England At mealtimes he is seated at the cat s table as far from the Captain s Table as can be with a ragtag group of insignificant adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin.