08 May 2012

The Cat's Table, by Michael Ondaatje

I have been terribly remiss in my updating of late, partly because I've been traveling a lot, and tearing through books like a fiend. The combination of not being in front of a laptop and having way too much to post about is not such a great one. But I feel a sense of obligation towards my few* faithfully regular readers, so!

I really quite like Ondaatje's prose. And this book is quite beautiful in many ways, effortlessly engaging, occasionally lyrical, and overall quite pleasant. But I also wasn't that taken with it. It kept me reading, yes, but it didn't quite make me actually care about the people. To be fair though, I am generally just less interested in novels where the narrative perspective is that of a child. I tend to find them somewhat cloying. This one had that kind of wistfulness that often irks me - actually more so in the fragments that jumped ahead to the future - but it was just this side of palatable.  However, the somewhat meandering plot, with its nonlinear jumps and multiple storylines, felt a bit strained.** It seemed a bit unsure about what it wanted to do, as a novel. The writing was lovely in many parts, but it just didn't hold together as well as it could have, story-wise.

Overall, I think if you want to read some Ondaatje, there are many superior options to choose from.

* Really just one, so far as I know, but maybe two, if my dad is still checking in. And then there are a few people I know who stop by from time to time. And the occasional random visitor/troll. Sometimes this blog seems like something I do just to keep myself writing something about books when I'm not doing any other writing, other times, it's a way to actually work through my thoughts, and other times, it's really just a way of telling a few people I like about some stuff I've read lately.

** To be fair, I was somewhat strained - I read it at the tail end of an 8 hour book binge, after finishing one book and then reading another one cover-to-cover, so I might have been somewhat burnt out.

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