Thursday, May 17, 2012

Start your summer reading list!

For me, summer reading requires water — living water that I can see, hear and smell. The book itself needn’t involve water, but if it does, so much the better.

Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table is a perfect example. This latest from the author of The English Patient tells the story of an 11-year-old boy’s voyage in 1953 from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to a new life in London. Michael is a low-fare passenger and is thus seated at the table furthest from the Captain’s — the Cat’s Table. There he meets two other boys and an engaging fringe group of eccentrics.

The boys run wild, exploring, eavesdropping and observing much that they don’t fully understand. They discover a heavily-guarded prisoner in chains, learn about jazz and literature, and monitor the seduction of a young woman by an exotic acrobat.

The depths of this life-changing voyage are only vaguely grasped by these boys facing the end of childhood. It is the adult Michael who begins to realize the true impact, that “over the years, confusing fragments, lost corners of stories, have a clearer meaning when seen in a new light, a different place.”

A captivating tale with a perfectly realized setting, The Cat’s Table is full of reflection-worthy moments when you can look up and gaze out over the water, seeing in a new light, from a different place.

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