Blues for a Black Cat & Other Stories (French Modernist Library) Paperback – 1 Mar 2001
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"[This collection] displays Vian''s range from gallows humor to verbal fireworks, and happily serves to give visibility to this important writer."--"Publishers Weekly"
"Ultimately, "Blues for a Black Cat" is a collection of moral fables, albeit fables told in a cynical, mocking voice and set in a skewed version of the real world. Under the surface absurdity and verbal play, they offer serious indictments of human weakness and pretensions. Further, they reveal the spiritual emptiness just beneath our civilized facade. Vian''s blues are not only for a black cat, but for a society without meaning."--"Manoa"
"["Blues for a Black Cat"] brings back the nimble Vian in a collection of his short fiction, initially published as "Les Fourmis" in 1949. The work has the unmistakable flavor of the time and place, Claude Abadie''s jazz band, the coded and absurdist messages of rebellion, the wistful fables, verbal riffs and goofy anarchic encounters; the mise-en-scene includes an expiring jazzman who sells his sweat, a cat with a British accent and a piano that mixes a cocktail when "Mood Indigo" is played."--"Boston Globe"
About the Author
Boris Vian (1920-59), a trained engineer and jazz trumpet player, was a major literary figure in World War II France. Julia Older is the author or editor of many works. Her stories, translations, and poems have appeared in New Directions, the New Yorker, and many other journals.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've never read anything quite like this before... a serious of short stories which on the surface seem normal (a plumber visiting to fix a bathroom, a soldier's eye view of the Normandy Landings, a talking cat...!) which each have a sprinkling of the absurd and whimsy throughout.
The following extract from Louis Malle's foreward is a brilliant summary of the book...."Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories" provides a perfect introduction to Vian... These stories contain the pivotal characters and absurdist qualities germinal to his later novels and plays. Some stories... pave the way for Vian's blacker humour...Though boldy defiant, Vian always disguises social protest in vertiginous flights of fancy, quirky sexual encounters, and doomed romantic affairs. But his unique parody tends to heighten the masked terrors of war, poverty, ill health, and unemployment that hound the bizarre protaganists of these fablelike narratives."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As Vian himself says: "Routine dulls impressions." Readers be assured, there is nothing dull about his writing. His prose is full of gems, his ramblings are amusing, his literary rebellion is unrepeated by the generations of writers that came after him. While not pure surrealism, his approach to reality, to make the most mundane breathe with a new life, is fascinating.
Julia Older's excellent translation finally brings this important piece to the English speaking audiences.
Blues for a black cat would be a great sample of Vian's work for those not familiar with this author.