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The Cat's Table (Anglais) Relié – 25 août 2011

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THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje
He wasn’t talking. He was looking from the window of the car all the way. Two adults in the front seat spoke quietly under their breath. He could have listened if he wanted to, but he didn’t. For a while, at the section of the road where the river sometimes flooded, he could hear the spray of water at the wheels. They entered the Fort and the car slipped silently past the post office building and the clock tower. At this hour of the night there was barely any traffic in Colombo. They drove out along Reclamation Road, passed St. Anthony’s Church, and after that he saw the last of the food stalls, each lit with a single bulb. Then they entered a vast open space that was the harbour, with only a string of lights in the distance along the pier. He got out and stood by the warmth of the car.

He could hear the stray dogs that lived on the quays barking out of the darkness. Nearly everything around him was invisible, save for what could be seen under the spray of a few sulphur lanterns—watersiders pulling a procession of baggage wagons, some families huddled together. They were all beginning to walk towards the ship.

He was eleven years old that night when, green as he could be about the world, he climbed aboard the first and only ship of his life. It felt as if a city had been added to the coast, better lit than any town or village. He went up the gangplank, watching only the path of his feet—nothing ahead of him existed—and continued till he faced the dark harbour and sea. There were outlines of other ships farther out, beginning to turn on lights. He stood alone, smelling everything, then came back through the noise and the crowd to the side that faced land. A yellow glow over the city. Already it felt there was a wall between him and what took place there. Stewards began handing out food and cor- dials. He ate several sandwiches, and after that he made his way down to his cabin, undressed, and slipped into the narrow bunk. He’d never slept under a blanket before, save once in Nuwara Eliya. He was wide awake. The cabin was below the level of the waves, so there was no porthole. He found a switch beside the bed and when he pressed it his head and pillow were suddenly lit by a cone of light.

He did not go back up on deck for a last look, or to wave at his relatives who had brought him to the harbour. He could hear singing and imagined the slow and then eager parting of families taking place in the thrilling night air. I do not know, even now, why he chose this solitude. Had whoever brought him onto the Oronsay already left? In films people tear themselves away from one another weeping, and the ship separates from land while the departed hold on to those disappearing faces until all distinction is lost.
I try to imagine who the boy on the ship was. Perhaps a sense of self is not even there in his nervous stillness in the narrow bunk, in this green grasshopper or little cricket, as if he has been smuggled away accidentally, with no knowledge of the act, into the future.
He woke up, hearing passengers running along the corridor. So he got back into his clothes and left the cabin. Something was happening. Drunken yells filled the night, shouted down by officials. In the middle of B Deck, sailors were attempting to grab hold of the harbour pilot. Having guided the ship meticulously out of the harbour (there were many routes to be avoided because of submerged wrecks and an earlier breakwater), he had gone on to have too many drinks to celebrate his achievement. Now, apparently, he simply did not wish to leave. Not just yet. Perhaps another hour or two with the ship. But the Oronsay was eager to depart on the stroke of midnight and the pilot’s tug waited at the waterline. The crew had been struggling to force him down the rope ladder, however as there was a danger of his falling to his death, they were now capturing him fishlike in a net, and in this way they lowered him down safely. It seemed to be in no way an embarrassment to the man, but the episode clearly was to the officials of the Orient Line who were on the bridge, furious in their white uniforms. The passengers cheered as the tug broke away. Then there was the sound of the two-stroke and the pilot’s weary singing as the tug disappeared into the night.
What had there been before such a ship in my life? A dugout canoe on a river journey? A launch in Trincomalee harbour? There were always fishing boats on our horizon. But I could never have imagined the grandeur of this castle that was to cross the sea. The longest journeys I had made were car rides to Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains, or the train to Jaffna, which we boarded at seven a.m. and disembarked from in the late afternoon. We made that journey with our egg sandwiches, some thalagulies, a pack of cards, and a small Boy’s Own adventure.

But now it had been arranged I would be travelling to England by ship, and that I would be making the journey alone. No mention was made that this might be an unusual experience or that it could be exciting or dangerous, so I did not approach it with any joy or fear. I was not forewarned that the ship would have seven levels, hold more than six hundred people including a captain, nine cooks, engineers, a veterinarian, and that it would contain a small jail and chlorinated pools that would actually sail with us over two oceans. The departure date was marked casually on the calendar by my aunt, who had notified the school that I would be leaving at the end of the term. The fact of my being at sea for twenty-one days was spoken of as having not much significance, so I was surprised my relatives were even bothering to accompany me to the harbour. I had assumed I would be taking a bus by myself and then change onto another at Borella Junction.

There had been just one attempt to introduce me to the situation of the journey. A lady named Flavia Prins, whose husband knew my uncle, turned out to be making the same journey and was invited to tea one afternoon to meet with me. She would be travelling in First Class but promised to keep an eye on me. I shook her hand carefully, as it was covered with rings and bangles, and she then turned away to continue the conversation I had interrupted. I spent most of the hour listening to a few uncles and counting how many of the trimmed sandwiches they ate.

On my last day, I found an empty school examination booklet, a pencil, a pencil sharpener, a traced map of the world, and put them into my small suitcase. I went outside and said good-bye to the generator, and dug up the pieces of the radio I had once taken apart and, being unable to put them back together, had buried under the lawn. I said good-bye to Narayan, and good-bye to Gunepala.

As I got into the car, it was explained to me that after I’d crossed the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, and gone through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, I would arrive one morning on a small pier in England and my mother would meet me there. It was not the magic or the scale of the journey that was of concern to me, but that detail of how my mother could know when exactly I would arrive in that other country.

And if she would be there.
I heard a note being slipped under my door. It assigned me to Table 76 for all my meals. The other bunk had not been slept in. I dressed and went out. I was not used to stairs and climbed them warily.

In the dining room there were nine people at Table 76, and that included two other boys roughly my age.

“We seem to be at the cat’s table,” the woman called Miss Lasqueti said. “We’re in the least privileged place.”

It was clear we were located far from the Captain’s Table, which was at the opposite end of the dining room. One of the two boys at our table was named Ramadhin, and the other was called Cassius. The first was quiet, the other looked scornful, and we ignored one another, although I recognized Cassius. I had gone to the same school, where, even though he was a year older than I was, I knew much about him. He had been notorious and was even expelled for a term. I was sure it was going to take a long time before we spoke. But what was good about our table was that there seemed to be several interesting adults. We had a botanist, and a tailor who owned a shop up in Kandy. Most exciting of all, we had a pianist who cheerfully claimed to have “hit the skids.” --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Revue de presse

The Cat’s Table is just as skillfully wrought as Ondaatje’s magnum opus The English Patient, but its picaresque childhood adventure gives it a special power and intimacy . . . He is a master at creating characters, whom he chooses to present, memorably, as individuals. This choice is of a piece with the freshness and originality that are the hallmarks of The Cat’s Table.”
Wall Street Journal
“A joy and a lark to read . . . Within a few pages of the book’s opening, The Cat’s Table has done a miraculous thing—it has ceased to be a book, or even a piece of art. It is merely a story, unfolding before the reader’s eyes, its churning motor a mystery about what it is exactly that happened on this boat . . . Told in short bursts of exposition so beautiful one actually feels the urge to slow the reading down, the novel shows us how the boy assembles the man.”
Boston Globe
The Cat’s Table is an exquisite example of the richness that can flourish in the gaps between fact and fiction . . . Ondaatje has an eerily precise grasp of the immediacy of a child’s world view, and an extraordinary sense of individual destiny . . . It is an adventure story, it is a meditation on power, memory, art, childhood, love and loss. It displays a technique so formidable as to seem almost playful. It is one of those rare books that one could reread an infinite number of times, and always find something new within its pages.”
Evening Standard (UK)
“This book is wonderful, offering all the best pleasures of Ondaatje’s writing: his musical prose, up-tempo; his ear for absurd, almost surreal dialogue, which had me laughing out loud in public as I read; his admiration for craftsmanship and specialized language in the sciences and the trades; and his sumptuous evocations of sensual delight . . . In many ways, this book is Ondaatje’s most intimate yet.”
Globe and Mail (Canada)

“A treasure chest of escapades from a pitch-perfect writer, an immaculate observer of the dance of humans, giving us an intoxicating mix of tenderly rendered boy’s eye perspective and the musings of the older narrator looking back on this intensely formative voyage . . . It is a classic, perfect premise for a novel packed with possibilities. Put it in the hands of one of the most subtle and surprising masters of world writing, Michael Ondaatje, and unalloyed joy lies latent in every sentence and sensuous quirk of the narrative. This is simply blissful storytelling . . . Think the seafaring Joseph Conrad, with an invigorating infusion of Treasure Island, a touch of Mark Twain.”
The Scotsman (UK)

“Ondaatje’s best novel since his Booker Prize–winning The English Patient . . . [An] air of the meta adds a gorgeous, modern twist to the timeless story of boys having an awfully big adventure . . . As always, Ondaatje’s prose is lyrical, but here it is tempered; the result is clean and full of grace.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A graceful, closely observed novel that blends coming-of-age tropes with a Conradian sea voyage . . . Beautifully detailed, without a false note: It is easy to imagine, in Ondaatje’s hands, being a passenger in the golden age of transoceanic voyaging, amid a sea of cocktail glasses and overflowing ashtrays, if in this case a setting more worthy of John le Carré than Noel Coward . .  . Elegiac, mature, and nostalgic—a fine evocation of childhood, and of days irretrievably past.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Ondaatje is justly recognized as a master of literary craft . . . The novel tells of a journey from childhood to the adult world, as well as a passage from the homeland to another country, something of a Dantean experience.”
—Annie Proulx, The Guardian (UK)
“Ondaatje’s wondrous prose feels more alive to the world than ever before . . . This is a simpler story, more simply told, than Ondaatje has accustomed his readers to . . . Yet The Cat’s Table is no less thrilling in its attempts to capture beauty in its various and terrifying forms.”
Financial Times (UK)
“Richly enjoyable, often very funny, and gleams like a really smart liner on a sunny day . . . The magic of this fine book is in the strange inventiveness of its episodes. Ondaatje is really the master of incident in the novel, and the enchantments wash over the reader in waves . . . The beauty of Ondaatje’s writing is in its swift accuracy; it sings with the simple precision of the gaze.”
Daily Telegraph (UK)
The Cat’s Table is Ondaatje’s most accessible, most compelling novel to date. It may also be his finest . . . Ondaatje’s prose is, as always, stunning . . . The Cat’s Table is a breathtaking account not only of boyhood, but of its loss. It is a novel filled with utterly unique characters and situations, but universal in its themes, heartbreakingly so, and a journey the reader will never forget.”
Vancouver Sun (Canada)

“An eloquent, elegiac tribute to the game of youth and how it shapes what follows . . . One of the strengths of the novel is the sheer brilliance of characterization on show. The bit players on board the Oronsay are almost Dickensian in their eccentricity and lovability . . . In The Cat’s Table, he has not only captured with acute precision the precarious balance of his characters’ existence on the move but also the battle that adults wage for the retention of the awe and wonder they once took for granted in their childhood. Ultimately, Ondaatje has created a beautiful and poetic study hre of what it means to have your very existence metaphorically, as well as literally, all at sea.”
Independent on Sunday (UK)
“A novel superbly poised between the magic of innocence and the melancholy of experience.”
Economist (UK)
“Is there a novelist who writes more compellingly about tenderness than Ondaatje? . . . The Cat’s Table is a voyage of discovery for the reader as well as for its narrator. I loved the book, was dazzled by its language, and looked forward to turning each page to learn what would happen next.”
Montreal Gazette (Canada)
The Cat’s Table deserves to be recognized for the beauty and poetry of its writing: pages that lull you with their carefully constructed rhythm, sailing you effortlessly from chapter to chapter and leaving you bereft when forced to disembark at the novel’s end.”
Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“So enveloping and beautifully rendered, one is reluctant to disembark at the end of the journey . . . The best novels and poetry possess a kind of bottomlessness: each time a reader revisits a masterful work, she finds something new. Though the ocean journey in The Cat’s Table lasts a mere 21 days, it encapsulates the fullness of a lifetime. This reader will undoubtedly return to it and unearth new treasures from its depths.” ­ 
Quill and Quire (Canada)
  --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 304 pages
  • Editeur : Jonathan Cape; Édition : First Edition (25 août 2011)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0224093614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224093613
  • Dimensions du produit: 14,4 x 2,9 x 22,2 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 165.056 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Amazon Customer sur 3 janvier 2012
Format: Relié
This is my first reading of MO, whose style I liked instantly. Short chapters with stories within, released in short bursts, and the end result superior to its constituent parts. [A Cat's Table is the dining table farthest away from the Captain's Table on passenger ships, implying low status.]
The book is based on MO's own 21-day sea voyage as an 11-year old from Colombo, Sri Lanka to the UK in 1954, and its aftermath. Years earlier MO's parents supposedly divorced. No word about the father. The mother left for the UK and MO was adopted by an uncle, a judge, who sent him to a strict boarding school. There MO learned to survive in groups and earn respect from fellow pupils: by skillful denial and lying, whenever opportune. Now he is on his way to the UK for further study, and his mother awaits his arrival. But he could not care less about her during the voyage, because so much is happening every day...

At the Cat's Table, MO meets men and women whose status and stories he cannot fully judge yet. But in his diary he records every adult sentence overheard and not understood. He also bonds quickly with Cassius (12), a wild boy a year ahead of him in school and Ramadhin, a shy boy with a weak heart whose sister he knows. They are also sent to the UK for further education. The trio spends most daylight and nightly hours together, probing the ship and trying to interpret what they see and hear. The sea voyage is a magical mystery tour for the unsupervised, trouble-prone 11 and 12-year olds, who quickly find secret meeting places to spy on and discuss fellow passengers, some of whom are not who they claim to be. They explore the ship's every level, make a nuisance of themselves, even discover a tightly-guarded criminal aired only around midnight.
Lire la suite ›
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par LD COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEURTOP 10 COMMENTATEURS sur 1 septembre 2012
Format: Broché
Michael Ondaatje, romancier né au Sri Lanka (alors Ceylan) en 1943, quitta Colombo pour Londres à 11 ans, en 1954. En 1962, il partit vivre au Canada, et devint citoyen canadien. Le héros de son dernier roman en date, The Cat's Table / La Table des autres (voir présentation sur la page de l'édition française), se prénomme Michael, vit à Ceylan jusqu'en 1954 et part au même âge en transatlantique pour l'Angleterre, devient par la suite lui-même écrivain et canadien, etc. Faut-il en conclure que ce roman est autobiographique et se nourrit exclusivement des souvenirs de l'auteur, comme on pourrait le faire un peu hâtivement? En fait, Ondaatje, qui ne cherche pas à brouiller les pistes plus que de raison, tient à l'expliciter dans une note après le texte, ainsi qu'en entretien. S'il a bien vécu ces trois semaines de traversée à bord d'un paquebot à cette époque-là, il dit n'en avoir que très peu de souvenirs et avoir créé de toutes pièces la plupart des personnages. Ainsi, il déclare dans un entretien (Libération, 30 août 2012) : "C'est juste un voyage en bateau. Un enfant embarque sur un paquebot et en débarque. Fin. C'était intéressant pour moi d'écrire une histoire apparemment limitée ; étrangement, cela m'a rendu plus aventureux. Je me suis senti libre de me projeter vers l'avenir et de retourner dans le passé." A la question "est-ce vraiment un roman?", il répond : "Oui... je crois.Lire la suite ›
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Par Bunny sur 14 mai 2013
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I enjoyed every minute of this book. Through the eyes of a child of 12, we discover a handful of voyagers on a ship that goes from Ceylon to England. The storyteller and two of his friends have hideouts aboard that allow them to listen to private conversations or see things that were not meant for their eyes. As children they are unable to understand the full extent of what they see and hear. They are mischievous and constantly up to tricks, some of which put their lives into danger. The charm of the writing style comes from the candid glance the main character gives to everything he sees and the English he uses, slightly "décalé", as one would expect from a speaker of English from Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). I'll look out for other books by Michael Ondaatje.
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Par Eliot sur 6 octobre 2014
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Michael Ondaatje nous fait voyager dans l'espace,mais surtout à l'intérieur de nous même,dans des régions insoupçonnées et mystérieuses. Un magicien dont on se lasse pas.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 347 commentaires
274 internautes sur 280 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
It takes a lifetime to come of age 8 octobre 2011
Par TChris - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
At the age of eleven, Michael boards an ocean liner bound for England. With his friends Cassius and Ramadhin, he explores the ship and befriends eccentric passengers: Mr. Fonseka, a literature teacher from Colombo who displays the "serenity and certainty" Michael has observed "only among those who have the armor of books close by"; Mr. Daniels, who has transformed a section of the hold into an exotic garden; the musician and blues fan Max Mazappa; an Australian girl who greets the dawn by roller skating fiercely around the deck; Miss Lasqueti, a woman with a surprising, hidden background who is traveling with dozens of pigeons; a hearing impaired Singhalese girl named Asuntha, and others. "Simply by being in their midst," the boys are learning about adults, including those assigned to sit with them at the low-status Cat's Table, situated at the opposite end of the dining room from the Captain's Table. Michael's other lessons include his first fleeting experience with love and desire, as well as a taste of European racism, both subtle and (particularly in the case of the ship's captain) overt.

Two other passengers Michael knows only by sight. Sir Hector de Silva, a wealthy but ill passenger in Emperor Class accommodations, has bad luck with dogs, perhaps because a spell was cast upon him. At the opposite end of the social spectrum is a prisoner, rumored to be a murderer, whose midnight strolls on the deck -- closely guarded and in chains -- the concealed boys observe with fascination.

Michael Ondaatje keeps all these characters in motion like a master juggler. They are a fascinating bunch, and Ondaatje weaves them in and out of the narrative while maintaining a perfectly balanced pace: not so quick that the story whizzes by without time to appreciate its nuances; not so deliberate as to lose its energetic force.

At its midway point, the novel skips ahead from the 1953 voyage to events that occur twenty years later in Michael's life, events that trigger memories of the friends with whom he bonded on that formative journey. Although the writing in that section is exceptionally strong and quite moving, it has an out-of-joint feel, particularly when the flash forward ends and the voyage resumes. Subsequent interruptions to tell the reader of future events are shorter and more seamlessly integrated into the narrative. Eventually those passages become essential to the story; they complete it. Ondaatje writes: "Over the years, confusing fragments, lost corners of stories, have a clearer meaning when seen in a new light, a different place." The perspective that Michael gains with time, after reconnecting with individuals he met on the voyage, permits him (and thus the reader) to reinterpret events that occurred on the ocean -- particularly a moment of drama that becomes the story's nucleus, and that Michael can only understand fully many years later. For that reason, although The Cat's Table could be viewed as a coming of age novel, I think Ondaatje is suggesting that we spend our lifetimes coming of age -- that is, acquiring the wisdom and perspective of adulthood.

There is a restrained, graceful elegance to Ondaatje's prose that every now and then made me stop, blink, and reread a beautifully composed sentence or paragraph. He writes with affection of dogs and artists, of the needy and of those who give selflessly of themselves. This is a marvelously humane novel that works on a number of levels, but most of all, it is a joy to read.
182 internautes sur 197 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Best of Ondaatje's work 24 septembre 2011
Par Schuyler T Wallace - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I run hot and cold on Michael Ondaatie's writing. However, his new book, THE CAT"S TABLE, resonated in a part of my mind long ignored. In some of his other works, DIVISIDERO and THE ENGLISH PATIENT, to mention a couple, he uses many unlikely characters in the telling of his story that seem to run together with no special destination or closure. To me the books are disjointed and not very interesting or realistic. In Cat's Table, he uses the same formula but with more satisfying results. In fact, having been something of a scoundrel in my early years, the boys in this novel reawakened my early existence with their endless curiosity, mindless pranks, and earthy delight in just being boys.

I'm getting ahead of myself. As Ondaatje said, during an interview, the storyline is "A boy (Michael) gets on a boat...and gets off a boat." Fortunately, for us, the author understates the events that subsequently happen. Interest is added when we get to meet a couple of other boys and the three of them ramble unfettered around a large ship, finding opportunities to spy, to assist in burglary, smoke unknown substances, speculate on human behavior, and develop hot-blooded hormones over attractive girls. I too, at that stage of development, had similar adventures, although my spying was done through grass and brush along a small creek. I peeked through tree branches and gaps in large rocks rather than through the pipes, cables and railings found on a big ship. But I saw a lot of stuff, as these young fellows did.

The boys are joined in their journey from Sri Lanka to England by a tailor, a botanist, a burned-out pianist, a retired ship junker, and a mysterious spinster, all of whom join the boys at their dining table far away from the elite near the Captain's table, hence the name the Cat's Table, a term Ondaatje learned from a German publisher. We also meet a chained murderer, a deaf girl, a high society woman who largely neglects her role as Michael's caretaker and Michael's comely cousin, the igniter of young libidos. All these interesting characters fall into place under Ondaatje's skillful manipulations. The reasons for and details of the ship's journey will remain undisclosed here, as will the flash-backs.

Michael Ondaatje is a controversial writer that readers either adore or loathe. I don't think, however, there's any doubt that he is an author who conveys atmosphere and conversation in a clear and descriptive manner. Mood and place are masterfully conveyed. His writing is spare and lucid, with no cerebral words that need to be found in a dictionary. The only word I recall that stumped me was ayurvedic. It wasn't even in my Webster's Collegiate. I later found it pertains to the ancient Hindu science of health and medicine.

Ondaatje is a poet which probably explains why he is so adept at manipulating the intricacies of space and time. He explains that a poet doesn't say everything in his poems. He says one-third of what should be said is left for the reader to figure out. That's what he tries to do in his novels. That could be the reason he is so controversial among serious readers...some don't want to read between the lines to figure out his storyline. In my opinion, that's not the case in Cat's Table. This book is lighter than some of his others and, although flash-forwards to the future are here, the storyline moves with fluidity and a plainness that made my heart thump and my mind reach for memories. That's what a good book should do, ignite the reader's mind.
222 internautes sur 246 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
I don't think I'm not reasonably intelligent... 27 septembre 2011
Par bert1761 - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
but I am not sure I "got" a lot of what was going on in this novel. While I loved the first third of the book, the last two-thirds eroded that sentiment.

"The Cat's Table" is the story of Michael, an 11-year-old who is put on a ship for a three-week voyage from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to England. Through his assignment to the "Cat's Table," he meets up with two other boys about his age and various other characters (and there are a few at other tables whom he knows or gets to know).

The first part of the novel is told exclusively from the point of view of 11-year-old Michael and it is highly entertaining and enjoyable to observe his exploits and hear his observations from them. Thereafter, the book skips forward and backward in time, so we hear from the adult Michael about things that happened to him and other characters since the trip, as well as his recounting of some of the events that took place on the ship from the vantage point of recollection, rather than observation. It is a result of this frequent change of time and perspective that I got somewhat lost in and bogged down by the book.

In addition, as the story is told by Michael, what he observes and chooses to tell us is all we really know about the other characters in the book; there is very little opportunity to observe them directly. As a result, I never really came to care much about any of the charactersin the novel. In this regard, I find it interesting to note that "The Cat's Tale" contains more characters than are in several of Michael Ondaatje's other novels COMBINED. I think this fact serves to highlight that Ondaatje is better than most authors at creating beautiful pictures and atmospheres with his words, but is not nearly as good at creating fully realized characters.

I give the book three stars for it wonderful beginning, its beautiful language, and flashes of insight into human nature (generally, rather than of any specific character). I can't give it any more than three stars, however, because of its convoluted storytelling and its failure to move me.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A strong start with a lackluster finish 8 octobre 2011
Par Live2Cruise - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
It's difficult to write this review; in some places this novel is brilliant and in others, plodding. The novel starts out strong as the narrator, a young boy, boards the Oronsay from Ceylon to England. He is traveling alone, and his traveling companions become his dinner mates at the cat's table (the table farthest from the Captain's). The narrator is an inquisitive boy, and through his eyes we witness the happenings on the ship-- some everyday and mundane, and others intriguing. There is a prisoner aboard the ship, and this instantly captures the attention of Michael, the narrator, and his two friends. Michael's powers of observation are fairly astute, and the writing is powerful and sharp. The early part of the book reminded me of Life of Pi and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and if I were reviewing this first part alone, this would have been a five star review without question.

The ship is a microcosm of society, and Michael's understanding of the divide between classes, and the relationship between children and adults, is cemented on this journey. His learning about the workings of the world in this shipboard snapshot of the larger world are compelling and endearing, and the author deftly captures his changing views as he grows up aboard the ship.

In the later part of the book, however, the tone seems to change-- it becomes darker, and this wasn't the trouble so much as the sudden feeling of being more distant from Michael and the other characters. We move between Michael's present adult life, and his time as a boy on the ship. More characters become involved in the story, but we never really get to know any of them enough to feel a connection. This makes it difficult to stay invested in the story. The mystery surrounding the prisoner does heat up, lending some interest. But unfortunately, the plot toward the end of the book seems to just skim the surface. I had hoped for it to go deeper and was disappointed that it didn't.

It's a worthwhile read by an obviously talented writer, but based on the first part of the book I had hoped for a much stronger finish.
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Dullsville; virtually no resolution 28 décembre 2011
Par Dave Schwinghammer - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I never read THE ENGLISH PATIENT, nor have I seen the movie, but I was intrigued by the premise of THE CAT'S TABLE: an eleven-year-old boy is sent on a twenty-one day ocean cruise from Colombo, Ceylon, to England alone. Adventures ensue.

Actually he's not that alone. His cousin Emily is aboard as is another female relative in first class that he rarely sees. He also has his own stateroom; an adult roommate shows up later. The boy, Michael, has two buddies, Cassius and Ramadhin. Cassius is the more adventurous of the two while Ramadhin has a heart problem that constricts his aggressiveness. The Cat's Table is supposed to be as far away from the captain's table as you can get, but the people who eat there don't seem all that deprived. Miss Lasqueti is some kind of Mata Hari, and there's a man with a garden in the bowels of the ship that he shows to the boys. Michael's roommate is the kennel master and there's a feral dog that Ramadhin brought on board that causes him grief.

A rich man with rabies is also on board. Michael falls under the sway of a sort of cat burglar named the Baron, who uses Michael to crawl through the transoms of various state rooms, including the rich man's. He doesn't steal much. Just when this story line gets interesting the Baron leaves the ship at Port Said. There's another story line involving a prisoner who takes his exercise around midnight each night; the boys are always there watching. Emily has built a relationship with this man's deaf daughter, Asuntha.

When the ship enters the Mediterranean Ondaatje grows bored with the happenings on board ship and skips ahead to the future where we find out what happened to the boys. Michael also receives a letter from Miss Lasqueti intended for Emily. She had heard Micheal speak on the BBC. He had no idea where Emily was, so he read the letter. Once again it doesn't tell us much, only that Miss Lasqueti was worried that Emily wound succumb to the charms of a magician friend of Asuntha's, much as Miss L. had to a much older man. She had written the letter at the time of the budding relationship but had for some reason never given it to Emily. Michael and Emily meet again much later on an island near Vancouver and again we learn next to nothing. Would it have killed him to ask about the magician or about her friend Asuntha?

Periodically Miss Lasqueti, a mystery book lover, will hurl a book over the side of the ship when it proves too unrealistic for her. About the only suspenseful scene in the book is when the prisoner makes a break for it. This was when I had my Miss Lasqueti moment and felt like throwing this book overboard. Ondaatje makes a point of insisting that there never was any ocean cruise, that this is fiction. If so, he forgot the conflict, the climax, and the resolution.
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