The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje: Review

The Cat’s Table is the coming of age tale of unaccompanied eleven-year-old Michael who is put on board the cruiseliner Oronsay from Ceylon to England where he is to be reunited with his mother. Michael is seated at the cat’s table with an eclectic group of characters that we come to know as the novel progresses. The cat’s table is the farthest table in the dining room from the Captain’s table and therefore considered the most unimportant.

Michael Ondaatje

Michael and his two new friends create a secretive shipboard world for themselves. As they are considered insignificant they are also invisible and are able to access parts of the ship that would otherwise be prohibited to three unsupervised and curious eleven-year-old boys. They roam the decks at night, sleep in the afternoons and sneak off when the ship is in port. “Sleep is a prison for a boy who has friends to meet.”

The boys are fascinated by the mysterious prisoner who is given night walks on the deck after the ship’s passengers are asleep and become embroiled in adult intrigues of which they have little understanding.

This is a book I tried to read slowly because I was enjoying the writing so much. I loved the world that Ondaatje created for the boys on the ship. It was magical and poignant and the journey they take on the ship becomes an awakening and a personal journey from childhood to adulthood.

Michael Ondaatje is the Booker Prize winning author of The English Patient, born in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and now living in Canada.

Another review of The Cat’s Table:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/books/review/the-cats-table-by-michael-ondaatje-book-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Review: The Last Werewolf

A Howler of  A Tale

Once again readers are being asked to suspend disbelief about the existence of werewolves and vampires, but in this instance it is well worth giving it another go. The genre has recently been all about teen-lit, but The Last Werewolf is an adult tale of literary mastery. It has it all – the suspense of a thriller, lots of sex, gallons of blood and plenty of dark, dark humour.

The Last Werewolf

Author Glen Duncan studies philosophy and literature and this is evident in the musings of the central character and narrator Jake Marlowe. Jake is presumed to be the last werewolf on Earth and his existential angst is woven through the narrative of this novel. He is a villanous antihero. As a were he is a wealthy, charismatic, erudite and quite frankly, sexy English gentleman. Once a month he becomes wulf, and is unwittingly transformed into a savage nine-foot killing machine with a lust for human flesh.

Despite the fact that Jake is a killer, we sympathise with him as he struggles to come to terms with his nature. In a bitter twist, Jake has ingested the lives and voices of his victims and can never escape their collective conscience. To absolve himself he involves himself with struggles through history, rescuing Jews from Nazi Germany, funding cures for cancer, and chosing victims with discrimination. “Two nights ago I’d eaten a 43 year old hedge fund specialist. I’ve been in a phase of taking the ones no-one wants.”

At 200  years old and counting Jake is over living. He sees no reason to go on until circumstances demand he fight for his life. He is pitted against reeking vampires, vengeful members of WOCOP (World Organisation for Control of Occult Phenomena) and an overindulged heiress with penchant for the macabre.

The novel includes traditional vampire/werewolf lore used in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner: silver bullets, stakes, immortality and an instinctual animosity between the two species. Spy thriller tactics are employed for Jake to elude his pursuers leading to a suspenseful climax. The Last Werewolf is a part of a trilogy and Talullah Rising is already available. The third installment hasn’t been published yet and quite frankly, I can’t wait.

 

The Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge

The Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge requires me to read and review up to 12 books during 2012 from 12 different genres. I have come very late to the Challenge but am going to try to catch up.

If you are interested in joining in go to the Eclectic Reader and sign up! 

Genres and what I aim to read and review:

  1. Literary Fiction: Canada by Richard Ford (Done! See the review here)
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction: Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George
  3. Romantic Fiction: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  4. Historical Fiction: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  5. Young Adult: The Hunger Games (Reading this aloud with my daughter)
  6. Fantasy: Any suggestions? Not my usual genre!
  7. Science Fiction: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  8. Non Fiction: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayd
  9. Cover of

    Cover of Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

    Horror: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Done!

  10. Thriller /Suspense: The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg
  11. Classic: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  12. My favourite genre – Literary Fiction/Travel: The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

I will aim to keep the reviews short and sweet. I promise!