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Max and the Cats

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Max Schmidt grew up in the stockroom of his father's fur store, cloaked among the foxes, minks, and leopards, hiding from the glaring eyes of a stuffed tiger atop the wardrobe. It is here he dreams of traveling to distant lands; and here, as a young man, he begins an affair with the store's married clerk.

Forced to flee when his lover's husband discovers the affair and de
Paperback, 115 pages
Published November 25th 2003 by Plume (first published 1981)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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 ·  643 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Debbie Zapata
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019sundaze
I discovered Moacyr Scliar when I first read The Centaur In The Garden many years ago. I re-read that book not too long ago and my older self understood it much better the second time around.

I wanted to see more by this author so I ordered this one and at least one other. (I've lost track of my new arrivals a bit lately.)

Max And The Cats, originally copyrighted in 1981 and with a translation copyright of 1990, was the book which 'inspired' Yann Matel to write his 2001 book Life Of Pi. According
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
As early as the part where Max is floating in the middle of the ocean in a dinghy with a live jaguar I was sweating buckets already. My client was already an hour late and I wasn't able to find a seat in the airconditioned area of the Starbucks so I was outside, where the smokers were, during that one hot summer afternoon. My client took one more hour to arrive, blaming the heavy traffic, and I had then long finished reading this novella and finished my brewed coffee (sipping the last, cold drop ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this book extra credit for having the exact opposite qualities of Life of Pi, which I hated. Where Life of Pi felt precious, pretentious, contrived, belabored, forced, overly long, badly written, uninteresting, unoriginal, and pointless, Max and the Cats was a quick, fresh little story that kept me engaged and consistently surprised me all the way through.

I never would've picked up this very slim, out-of-print book if I hadn't been assigned it for class, and nothing in a description o
Jun 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any young adult over the age of 16, and people who love cats and Yann Martel
Recommended to Melinda by: Douglas Ord
So after all the controversy about Beatrice and Virgil and Life of Pi by Yann Martel and did he or did he not plagiarize Mr. Moacyr Scliar I decided to read Max and the Cats.

It is very short, but covers most of one man's lifetime. It's really a novella. And a very sweet one at that.

Yes, images, ideas and even words were taken from Max and the Cats to create both of Yann Martel's popular books, but I don't know anything about plagiarism laws.

What I do know is that Max and The Cats is a well writ
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-long-ago
Reviewed in Canada on January 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Moacyr Scliar has managed to pack so much grandeur into this 99 page novella it is hard to grasp all at once.

Essentially it speaks to the psychology of a person facing their innermost fears & dealing with them on two levels; the real & the imagined.

A completely cohesive story about a young man, Max, born in Berlin in 1912, afflicted with a terror of cats, conceivably due to the fact that his father is an unsavory furrier. From an early age M
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
In the dedication of Yann Martel's Life of Pi, he credits Moacyr Scliar as inspiration for that book. In an interview, Mr. Martel insists that he never read this book, but had read a synopsis which inspired his own novel. However, the similarities are more than striking and readers who enjoyed Life of Pi should also read this book to decide for themselves. If anything it is interesting to read 2 books with similarly odd setups (a boy trapped on a boat with a wild tiger) and see the different dir ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, mindblow
Moacyr Scliar
Max and the Cats
Gramedia Pustaka Utama
140 pages

I was under the impression that Max and the Cats is a children book when I read it and this created the most WTF moment in 2019 so far, especially at the sex scene that occurred after a few pages in.
Karen GoatKeeper
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was translated from Portuguese. The version I read was done very well.
Max's life seems haunted by various wild and pet cats. As a teenager, the cat is a stuffed tiger. This ends up being a reason for him to leave hurriedly for Brazil. On the sea voyage there, his life becomes intertwined with a jaguar. As an older man, an onca or panther intrudes on his life. He later raises Angora cats.
Each cat encounter influences and changes Max's life. Each pushes him along forcing him to face real
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novella was written in 1981 by Brazilian writer and physician Moacyr Scliar. It tells the story of a German young man who fled Germany when the Nazis took power. He came by ship to Brazil, but the ship sank. He found himself trapped in a boat with a jaguar. He finally makes it to Brazil and is haunted by his past. This novel came to public attention in 2002 when Canadian writer Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize for Life of Pi. Martel's book is about a boy who finds himself trapped in a b ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
In Life of Pi, Yann Martel makes an allusion to Dr. Moacyr Scliar’s Max And The Cats A Novel by thanking him for the “spark of life”, yet he claims to have only read a review of the story, not the story itself, and had admired the premise.

There is an episode, among several other cat experiences, about a shipwrecked zoo jaguar and the boy, Max, afloat together in a dinghy. It really does seem like the same scene as Pi and the tiger, but from there the similarities fade quickly.

I think Martel’s fo
Rui Carlos da Cunha
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brazilian, 2003
Reading an article about The Life of Pi by Yann Martel lead me to read this amazing novella. Well worth the read if you can find a copy.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoyed "Life of Pi", you'll probably enjoy this... as it is the original!
Hah, I feel like I've read four books at once

If you didn't read "life of pi" yet, read this one!

and maybe after you finish you think.. huh, it also reminds me of more than one book's plot
Because really, this small book feels like a condensed bottle of mixed perfumes.

There's not a single unnecessary paragraph, all serving the purpose of telling you what happened, what did the characters say, but still in a rythm that facilitates stopping and thinking about what the writer means and what do you p
Claire Stammars
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to this book having read that it was the inspiration behind Yann Martel's Life of Pi. I liked - but did not love - Life of Pi and was interested to see the same premise (young man adrift at sea with a wild cat) unfold in a different telling.

As books go, Max and the Cats is very short, and so it fitted well with the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2018 as a book I could read in a day. It is one of many books that have lived for months on my bookshelf but never made it into my hands
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Originally published in Brazil in 1981, Scliar's novella tells, with a sharp eye but a glancing touch, the story of a boy at the mercy of terrible forces, who grows into a man similarly powerless, until he commits an act of violent defiance. German Max Schmidt, son of a brutish furrier and a gentle mother, is "morbidly sensitive," imagining escape to exotic climes. At university, Max befriends a troubled socialist and rekindles his affair with libidinous Frida, the fur store clerk who had deflow ...more
Martha Toll
Here's my feature discussing Max and the Cats.
For Passover, Fresh New Takes on “People of the Book”

Martha Toll
March 27, 2013

The escape from oppression into a vast diaspora is a theme that has preoccupied Jewish writers from Exodus to modern times: here are a few titles that treat this subject with refreshing originality.

Spring heralds the holiday of Passover, in which Jews celebrate their escape from bondage during ancient times. We receive the Passover
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because a bookstagram said that it inspired the story in "Life of Pi" and finally the book is translated to Indonesian language.
I was expecting an adventure with the cat so that's explain why I only give 4 instead of 5 stars. It's a good introduction to Scliar's novels so I hope the local publisher will publish more of his books.
Alexander Oster
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read a French translation of this strange and funny little book.
Having read Yann Martel's "Life of Pi", I got a big kick out of the passage on the boat with the jaguar. Martel's story made better use of the trope, whereas this story's potential diminished as the novel progressed.
Didn't like the central character either.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Came to this because of its influence in Life of Pi (a favorite). Beyond the use of felines on the open sea and shades of allegory - the two differ all together. This is a delightful story of youth against the cruel world. Scliar's economy of language makes for a good read.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Max and the Cats, a novella by the Brazilian-Jewish novelist Moacyr Scliar, is probably best known for its vivid middle section in which the protagonist is stranded on a lifeboat, floating off the coast of South America, with a hungry jaguar he needs to feed – which inspired (or was appropriated by) Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. It’s certainly the most memorable image of this somewhat meandering tale of the hapless Max Schmidt, a man floating through life stalked both by felines and fascists.

It’s a
Ottery StCatchpole
I read about all the hullabaloo around this book, as I was reading this book. I've been wanting to read Life of Pi, and I'm going to, but I hope it will be a lot more interesting than this book. It has its moments, it starts off well and interesting and it ends with a nice climax but the whole scene with the jaguar and all that middle is so boring. I literally had to slog through it. The main character is not an appealing protagonist, as a matter of fact there is none in the story. The magical r ...more
Easy enough to say I found this because of Life of Pi. I would. love to comment on this book, but cannot seem to do so without wondering at Yann Martel for his "spark of life" for not only L.O.P, but also for Beatrice and Virgil. Both novels have a "feel" of Max and the Cats to them. But. anyways -

I really couldn't find myself responding to the story. Frida comes across as conniving but droll. Max - poor Max seems caught acting like a small child for. the entirety of the novel. Or, well. There
May 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Sweet novella, translated to english. Incited by some as being plagiarized, and by others as being the inspiration for Martel's 'Life of Pi'. After reading both my belief is that "max" was as Martel claims , a spark of an idea for "Life of Pi" . The books share a few fundamental similarities, zoos, tigers, regional chaos and forced evacuation, possible delirium but primarily Schylar's version is a novella with a young German protagonist that flees east Germany for Brazil during WWII, but doesn't ...more
I found this book in a used book store for five dollars. I read the first page or two, and was intrigued enough to buy it. It stayed interesting for the first chapter or two.... interesting premise, Germany in the early 30s... and then suddenly it stopped making any sense. The main character.... has to move to Brazil! Because...... his girlfriend said so! Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, because I put it down right there... I don't know. It's not worth it to me to try again, what with ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book after talking to a friend about Life of Pi which I read several years ago and enjoyed a lot. I was curious to see which way Scliar's story would go and I have to say that aside from the very obvious similarities between the stories, this one takes quite a different road. That said, I still enjoyed it quite a bit and since it is such a short book and at least the translation is very easy to read, it really takes no time to finish. The story was lacking a little bit of depth ...more
I picked this up after I heard about the controversy surrounding this novella and Life of Pi. I had read Pi first and had mixed feelings about it. This was more cut and dry. I liked that. It was also a good little novel filled with symbolism (which I also like).

Max has encounters with 3 different felines, each representing a piece of his life or past that he must confront. Quick, interesting read.
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Compact fable-like story about a very sensitive and naive boy who can't shed his naivete and fears of the real world well into his later years until he has to defend his own family, and even then he has some lessons still to learn. Various undercurrents and unresolved mysteries make this a lifelike tale. The first half of the book is very much like the later "Life of Pi", but I disliked that and love this.
Filled with history, magical realism, humour and psychology, this was a captivating novella that encourages the reader to contemplate. Scliar has a masterful talent of portraying the protagonists different thought processes through id, ego and superego.

Jun 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a short, odd little book. I didn't dislike it, but I can't say that I really liked it either. It seemed more like an outline of a book, something that was a first draft and needed to be fleshed out. The ideas and the characters and the voice are all there, but just not in a fulfilling way.
Jul 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005
What a strange little book. It reads like a study guide. I was disappointed not to see more cats. I guess it's an allegory for many things but I'm glad Max won through in the end, even if it feels incomplete. Max may have been paranoid but I'm sure he was correct about Hilde's husband.
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Moacyr Jaime Scliar (born March 23, 1937) is a Brazilian writer and physician.
Scliar is best known outside Brazil for his 1981 novel Max and the Cats (Max e os Felinos), the story of a young man who flees Berlin after he comes to the attention of the Nazis for having had an affair with a married woman. Making his way to Brazil, his ship sinks, and he finds himself alone in a dinghy with a jaguar w

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