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The Cat's Table (2011)

por Michael Ondaatje

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2,4311326,220 (3.71)331
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 more 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.… (mais)
  1. 30
    A nave dos loucos por Katherine Anne Porter (Limelite)
    Limelite: One believes "The Cat's Table" is a nod to this classic exploration of morals and morays involving exiles and Nazis on a trans-Atlantic voyage from South America to Europe.
  2. 10
    Le Grand Meaulnes por Alain-Fournier (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: coming of age
  3. 00
    The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea por Randolph Stow (tandah)
  4. 00
    Season of Migration to the North por Tayeb Salih (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Post-Colonial Novels
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» Ver também 331 menções

Inglês (130)  Espanhol (1)  Todas as línguas (131)
Mostrando 1-5 de 131 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
An insightful accounting of a boy's growing awareness of his unique personhood, at first seen through the eyes of a diverse group of fellow passengers, and then through his awakening mind's eye. I would definitely want to be seated at the Cat's Table! ( )
  jemisonreads | Jan 22, 2024 |
Gulped this book down, a tale of two families in "Cataract City", a.k.a. Niagara Falls. One man succeeds, whatever that means, another fights his disadvantages. The descriptions of the city place you right there, the grit and the falls mist washing over your face.
Very well written - you don't pause and admire, but you run right along with the author, enjoying yourself all the way. Recommended. ( )
  Dabble58 | Nov 11, 2023 |
Initially seemed merely charming, but it does become more than that. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
My first book by this author, and while his prose is beautiful, the plot is meandering and often dull. Tween boys stuck on a ship voyage with little supervision get up to the occasional hijinks. ( )
  KallieGrace | Jun 8, 2023 |
“There is a story, always ahead of you. Barely existing. Only gradually do you attach yourself to it and feed it. You discover the carapace that will contain and test your character. You find in this way the path of your life.” – Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table

In 1954. eleven-year-old Michael is traveling by sea from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to England, where he will rejoin with his mother after staying with an uncle. Onboard the Oronsay, he meets two other similar age children, Cassius and Ramadhin. Only minimally supervised, they become mischief-makers. When dining, they are seated with a group of adults at the least prestigious table, known as the Cat’s Table. It is told through Michael’s eyes, and there are “flash-forwards” to his later life, where he recounts what has happened to some of the people he met on the voyage. What appears at first to be a series of short interludes told about an assortment of eccentric characters becomes more complex and interrelated as the narrative progresses.

This book is an excellent example of a journey that becomes a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. As Michael looks back on his voyage, he discovers lessons that escaped him at the time, but has influenced his thinking. A few of the curious characters that come together in this intriguing story include:
- Michael’s distant older cousin, Emily, who is also changed profoundly by the journey
- The Hyderabad Mind, a member of the Jankla Troupe of shipboard circus performers
- A botanist that oversees a garden in the bowels of the ship
- A prisoner that walks the deck at night and is observed by the children
- A thief that influences Michael to help him

It will require a bit of patience to read this book, not that it is long (it’s not), but it takes a while for all the separate threads to converge. In the meantime, there are plenty of wonderfully realized colorful characters and juvenile shenanigans to maintain interest. Ondaatje’s writing is top tier and will appeal to fans of literary fiction.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 131 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Ondaatje has toned down the elevated consciousness and language that so permeated his last three novels (beginning with The English Patient). Fans will be glad to hear that the richly embroidered imagery of those works is still present, as well as the tantalizing Gothic tones of murder, lush sexuality and buried family secrets and curses...His technique, more reminiscent of a poet than a novelist, creates fascinating visual and sensual effects but makes the actual narrative of the voyage feel somewhat inert. This is probably intentional on Ondaatje’s part — he is using the Oronsay more as a point of meditation than momentum — although it does make the cinematic conclusion feel somewhat abrupt. ...The novel also contains a few too many passages of ponderous dialogue....There is much to enjoy, though, in this short, episodic novel, even for readers who may have found Ondaatje’s later works overly dense or poetic..
 
The story is constructed in a series of vignettes, stitched together in episodes that move backwards and forwards like the action of a Rubik Cube. One moment we are on board ship and the next on land many years into the future. The narrative both puzzles and unexpectedly pulls us up short....Such is the quality of the writing that not until we near the novel's end do we notice a false note in the character of Niemeyer. As the shackled prisoner, so necessary for the plot, he remains two-dimensional, with neither his presence, nor the working-out of his fate, really quite believable. That said, this is a quibble in what is otherwise a beautifully crafted whole.
 
I had trouble with the sudden rise to prominence of the characters that dominate the last part of the book. I felt I was being given an invented answer to a fabricated question, rather than an invitation to know who Michael is....Still, 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 that 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.
 

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And this is how I see the East.... I see it always from a small boat - not a light, not a stir, not a sound. We conversed in low wispers, as if afraid to wake up the land.... It is all in that moment when I opened my young eyes on it. I came upon it from a tussle with the sea.

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“It would always be strangers like them, at the various cat’s tables of my life, who would alter me,”
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"What is interesting and important happens mostly in secret, in places where there is no power. Nothing much of lasting value ever happens at the head table, held together by a familiar rhetoric. Those who already have power continue to glide along the familiar rut they have made for themselves."
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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 more 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.

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