The Alley Cat

Yves Beauchemin, Author Henry Holt & Company $17.45 (450p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0157-0
Dickensian characters, social satire a la Balzac and gratuitous vulgarity have propelled this second novel by a Canadian writer to sales of over one-million copies worldwide. American readers, however, are likely to find the darkly comic adventures of its picaresque hero much too unsophisticated for their tastes. Florent Boissonneault is a young Montrealer whose life is enriched, then plagued, by an old man purporting to be his benefactor. When the mysterious Egon Ratablavasky offers Florent the means to realize his ambition as a restaurateur, the ebullient Florent is at first elated but quite soon terrified at Ratablavasky's power. A strange and pungent odor (sulphur?) always accompanies Ratablavasky's appearances, underscoring his resemblance to the devil. The plot progresses through one slapstick event after another, in which Florent gains and loses his restaurant, his home, his health and good spirits, his means of livelihoodand almost his sanity, his hoped-for family and his wife. Ratablavasky, often referred to as ""the stinking alley cat,'' and a real, tiger-striped alley cat named Breakfast, owned by an alcoholic urchin of six, finally confront each other in a less-than-credible scene at the novel's resolution. The French-Canadian flavor of this narrative, its broadly limned satire and panoply of eccentric characters do not compensate for the novel's flat and rambling peregrinations. Author tour. (October 14)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 978-0-8050-0795-4
Hardcover - 978-0-948353-18-5
Paperback - 602 pages - 978-0-7710-9361-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 550 pages - 978-0-7710-3451-0
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-948353-38-3
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