The list of books that have moved me since last June - coinciding with my decision to scale back the number of blog posts I publish - is now ridiculously long. And though it pains me to say, as some of those books fade a bit in my memory, my evangelical enthusiasm for some of them has also dulled a little. I can't let "The Cat's Table" (2011) suffer that fate. My post-reading glow from this perfectly realized coming-of-age tale is just hours old.
Author Michael Ondaatje has been on my "to read" list since the day I saw the screen adaptation of his earlier novel "The English Patient". But Louise Erdrich and my wife get joint credit for bringing "The Cat's Table" to me and hopefully, to some of you. (Gift tip for anyone looking to make your reading partner happy: Scan the feature called Booklist from the magazine The Week. Look for an author your partner loves, as I do Louise Erdrich. Buy one of the recommended books for a birthday, etc. Or, take it to the next level - as my wife did - and buy all six books that cherished author selected for their Booklist.)
Which events from your early life indelibly shaped you? Only authors as gifted as Ondaatje can make this often-told story feel fresh, transporting a willing reader. I boarded an ocean liner with eleven year old Michael, ate my meals at the cat's table with him and his new friends, shared his adventures. And now, several hours later, I'm a little wiser, just as he became after his twenty one day journey.