The Cat's Table The Cat's Table question


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Worth reading?
Darlene Jones Darlene Nov 16, 2011 06:28PM
I was disappointed with this book. It seemed to be a child's memoir and the bits he related of the adult world didn't connect the way I would have expected them to.



This book was a bit odd for me—unlike pretty much anything else I read. I enjoyed it. It felt real to me. None of the memories were overwrought or unbelievable. It didn't tie up in a neat little package at the end, which is a good thing if you want it to be realistic. And the characters were compelling in a way I didn't expect. His sketches of them from his child's mind felt... real is the only word I can come up with.

That being said, this isn't a fast book, nor is it gripping. I did have to push my way through it, but at the same time I enjoyed it and felt like I learned something about myself through it. For me, it was a very worthwhile read.


Beautifully written, a book to savour.


I love Ondaatje's poetry--but this is not poetry. There is, thus far, little plot, and frankly, it all seems nonsensical. I am 3/4 of the way through this story and still trudging but not remotely interested in the many, many characters and subplots. I am thinking this is one book I should drop, but I read here that it improves in the end. I can't believe that this book comes with such high recommendations.


Thoroughly enjoyable ....


If you appreciate beautiful writing, read this book. I absolutely loved it. It's languid and lyrical but still has some elements of intrigue. It's also funny in places. It's a ship of amazing characters - convicts, thieves, beautiful women, musicians - all seen from a child's point of view. I've been recommending it to friends.


I would have to disagree, i loved the book, I could see myself as a child getting into all sorts of mischief, and getting a child's view on a wonderful coming of age adventure.


Loved this book. It lets his words shine


I reveled in the art of his language...the story itself was not a riveting page turner, but the words were worth every lovely note....


deleted member Aug 27, 2013 09:04PM   0 votes
Darlene wrote: "I was disappointed with this book. It seemed to be a child's memoir and the bits he related of the adult world didn't connect the way I would have expected them to."

It was realistic. There's no way someone would remember what experiences they had in the exact order they happened.


Definitely worth it. Sweet remembrances and well written. It may seem disjointed but it followed the disjointed way we remember what we experienced as children.


I agree with the people who say that the writing is a joy. I love how Ondaatje describes scenes using sound and smell as well as sight, and how I am transported to places I've never been. I think it was a more purposeful read for me, than say a mystery or detective story would have been, so take your time. (it isn't long) I read Diversimento (sp) by Ondaatje earlier in the year and struggled with it. I didn't like the characters much. But I finished it because his writing is lyrical. 'The Cat's Table' on the other hand, has a likeable protagonist. And an eccentric supporting cast.


I did not enjoy this at all - he is capable of so much more. Bad writing, and poor characterization.


Daren (last edited Oct 24, 2014 07:12AM ) Dec 03, 2011 04:35PM   0 votes
Great descriptive and eloquent writer. My English teacher would love him!

Storytelling, well... I had to drag myself through it. It got better at the far end.

There is an art to it, I must admit. He is an artist of being a writer. But in this book, the story did not captivate me or spark the interest of reading it every night. But, I read it till the end.

I still think it is worth reading, do to his eloquent style of writing. Beautiful writer.


I would have to vote for "Team Worth It" when it comes to The Cat's Table, though I think I was in the mindset for a book of this nature. I was looking for a meandering adventure tale when I picked up this book, and I loved the fact that the three boys breeze through the lives of the adults onboard without fully understanding the drama taking place right before their eyes. I think everyone has a story or two like that from childhood, where one can simultaneously remember the lived event (as a child) and reflect on its meaning in retrospect (as an adult)—Michael Ondaatje captures that dual perspective perfectly, if I do say so myself.

I think if a reader goes into the book with that idea in mind, she'll have an excellent experience of the work. But I do understand how other readers might feel bogged down by the slower, even pace of the narrative.


No -


It's true that if you're the author of Coming Through Slaughter and The English Patient, your readers will put the bar very high. But objectively speaking, an exquisitally well-written book.


The author created a dream-like state for the boy's journey. I think it does draw you in and makes you care about the boy and his eventual fate. Anything Ondaatje writes is at least interesting. Worth reading.


I thought this book was worth reading. It was beautifully written and flowed smoothly. I enjoyed it.


I enjoyed reading it a lot. It is not a child's memoir as such, but a story with recollections of a voyage made as a child, combined with scenes and parts of adult life. True that these parts never quite connect the way one would have expected them to... that is an insight one can obtain from the book.


Parts of the story were autobiographical, per author. As young boy, he sailed for 3 weeks alone on ship to his mother in London. The characters/events were fictional.
Just saw him do reading in my town. Just hearing his voice is a pleasure.


The writing was wonderful, the plot OK.


beautifully written... almost poetry-like... chain of anecdotes, definitely worth reading it!


I read this book because I won it. I wouldn't have read it otherwise. I had a hard time getting through it. Not my thing, I guess.


I loved this book, but must admit, I was surprised that I did. I picked it because 1) it fit my book group's criteria for the month (books with a blue cover), and 2) I love Ondaatje's writing. Not something I would have picked randomly. But I was hooked right away. Give it a chance, it's extremely well-written and has a nice twist at the end.


I throughly enjoyed this book; all memories are imperfect and differ according to whom you ask. I sailed (no pun intended) through the book and it left me wanting more. I actually thought it better than the English Patient.


I thought it was worth reading. I enjoyed it.


The Cat's Table is an impressive display of Ondaatje's masterful storytelling. The voyage from Colombo to England on the Orinsay is magical. Authentic and interesting characters and scenes abound, and are well-linked with the later present day narrative arc. A worthwhile read!


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