I’ve never really gotten into Michael Ondaatje, partially because I’ve never really given him a chance. Several years ago I started The English Patient, but I gave up after about 100 pages. Though I feel it must be the case, no one has ever tried to convince me I’m missing out on much. Earlier this year, however, I read and enjoyed an excerpt from The Cat’s Table (2011) in The New Yorker (my thoughts on the excerpt here). It was unique, somehow both rambling and direct, intense and placid. It had the best elements of a story where the narrator is enjoying the telling for the sake of the telling, because someone is listening. I wasn’t sure I’d like a whole book that went that way, though, so I’m not sure I would have read the novel had it not been chosen as a finalist for the Giller Prize. But what a great experience I had reading this book! It was even more enjoyable than the excerpt led me to expect.