09 February 2012
The Cat's Table ~ Michael Ondaatje
Hmmm, another of those picaresque novels
More like a dog's breakfast than a cat's table
Labelled a "novel" but read like a "memoir". The author took his childhood voyage from Colombo to England and fluffed it up to make a novel.
Sometimes it helps to be already famous because you mustn't have to pitch as hard to publishers! This book was short on character development and human insight, though the conflict/resolution was convoluted enough to make up for other areas lacking depth. If a picaresque novel has a rogue as a hero then maybe this doesn't fit ... he is just another naughty boy having escapades while without adult supervision.
It was a good enough read but the Oronsay stayed on course better. Many of the little chapters were pointless as far as character or plot development, seeming to be just fleeting recollections from the voyage. Vignettes and flashbacks and flashforwards were piecemeal. The writing style is as gently mesmerising as a boat rocked by the waves but it doesn't take you anywhere.