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madbkwm

madbkwm

The Cat's Table - Michael Ondaatje So I liked this, but it was a bit too neat. I liked that it all took place from the point of view of an 11 year old boy running amok. As an adult many years later he has the vantage from which to interpret things that he saw as a child; my husband and I have had many conversations about the freedoms we enjoyed as kids. It is interesting to think about the ways that we can investigate and pry as "innocent children" that are closed to us as adults. For example, I can almost imagine my kids and their friends looking through my bureau drawers searching for contra-band and I remember doing similar things in my friends' parents' houses as a kid, but as an adult I would not be able to do this.

In a similar vein, Micheal and his friends are able to explore the ship and its contents and passengers; they do not fully comprehend what they see until many years later.

I did not like that all the pieces fit so neatly together and that Michael conveniently knew all of them. Certainly he knows everyone at the Cat's Table, but his cousin Emily's role and her relationship with Sunil and Mr. Perrera as well as Asuntha and Mr. Neidermeyer was all too well constructed. I would have preferred Emily to be a stranger, not a confident. Someone that Micheal maybe runs into as an adult (after his radio interview perhaps) and whom he recognizes from the ship. I guess it didn't seem plausible that out of the several hundred passengers there were a handful who were important to the intrigue and they all were linked to the main character.

As always, the thing that makes a book four (rather than three) stars is an abundance of good quotes.
"Who realizes how contented feral children are? The grasp of the family fell away as soon as I was out the door."
"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."
"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."
"Other tableaux showed a hawk overpowering a dove in a cloudless blue sky-an example of the 'conquering' that comes with love. Love as murder then, or annihilation of the weaker party."
"competition is based not so much on winning but on stopping your enemy from achieving what he or she really wants."

Overall it was better than average and slightly under (rather than over) done, which I prefer. There were a few convenient plot angles, but definitely worth the reading.