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Even now, I persist in believing that these black marks on white paper bear the greatest significance, that if I keep writing I might be able to catch the rainbow of consciousness in a jar.

Jeffrey Eugenides

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The Cat's Table

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Something happens, and the scene is transformed.

The Cat's Table is an odd book. I liked it a lot, but without ever being sure just what I was reading. Most of the book, you do not get the impression that you are reading a story -- just some lovely and fairly disconnected childhood reminiscences. (Ondaatje has a note at the end, which I found gracious and helpful, saying that "although the novel uses the colouring and locations of memoir and autobiography, The Cat's Table is fictional.") As you come to the end, it turns out you have been meeting the characters and learning the setting for a swashbuckling adventure story -- and then in the final pages it is suddenly not that either, it is something altogether different and touching.

posted evening of Monday, April 23rd, 2012
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