With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning.
A spellbinding story - by turns poignant and electrifying - about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the "cat's table" - as far from the Captain's Table as can be - with a ragtag group of "insignificant" adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator's elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself "with a distant eye" for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another Cat's Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.
As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy's adult years, it tells a spellbinding story - by turns poignant and electrifying - about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.
Michael Ondaatje’s selected poems, The Cinnamon Peeler, brings together poems written between 1963 and 1990, including work from his most recent collection, Secular Love. These poems bear witness to the extraordinary gifts that have won high praise for this truly original poet and novelist.
FIRST CONVERSATION SAN FRANCISCO
In the spring of 2000, Walter Murch, at the suggestion of Francis Ford Coppola, began to re-edit "Apocalypse Now, "afilm he had worked on back in 1977-1979 both as sound designer and as one of the four picture editors. Twenty-two years later, all the takes and discards and "lost" scenes and sound elements(carefully preserved in climate-controlled limestone caves in Pennsylvania) were brought out of vaults to be reconsidered. "Apocalypse Now "is a part of the American subconscious. And in some way this wasthe problem.Having dinner with the novelist Alfredo Veeacute;a in San Francisco, after spending my first day with Walter at Zoetrope, I mentioned what was happening with the re-editing of "Apocalypse Now, "and Veeacute;a immediately launched into Marlon Brando's monologue about the snail on a razor blade. This was followed, during dinner, by Vea's precise imitation of DennisHopper's whine: "What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a "wise "man? . . ." For Veeacute;a, who fought in Vietnam, "Apocalypse Now "was "the "movie about the war. It was the work of art that caught it for him, that gave him a mythological structure he could refer to, that showed him what he had gonethrough and would later write about himself in books such as "Gods Go Begging." So those working on the new "Apocalypse Now "were aware that there would be problems connected with theirdismantling and restructuring a "classic." It was now public property.
"It "has "become part of the culture," said Murch. "Andthat's not a one-way street, as you know from your writing. As much as a work affects the culture, the culture mysteriously affects the work. "Apocalypse Now "in the year 2000 is a very differentthing from the physically exact-same "Apocalypse Now "in the second before it was released in 1979."
The idea for a new version grew out of Coppola's desire toproduce a DVD of "Apocalypse Now "with a number of major scenes that were-for reasons of length-eliminated from the 1979 version. Also, 2000 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fallof Saigon, so it seemed appropriate to re-evaluate editorial decisions that had originally been made while the war was still a vividly painful bruise on the nation's psyche. But rather than have the restoredscenes appear in isolation, appended in their own chapter, why not integrate them into the body of the film as originally intended? The problem was that the editing and sound work on the excised material had never beenfinished, and one scene in particular was eliminated before it was completely shot. Fortunately, the negative and original sound for all this material were perfectly preserved in original laboratory rolls, and could beretrieved, two decades later, as if the film had been shot a few weeks earlier.
And so Walter Murch was now working in San Francisco, in the old Zoetrope building. Mostly he had to collect andreconsider the material for three large sequences that were cut from the film in 1978-a medevac scene involving Playboy Bunnies; further scenes with Brando in the Kurtz compound; and a ghostly, funereal dinnerand love scene at a French rubber plantation. In Eleanor Coppola's book about the making of the film, she
In the Skin of a Lion is a love story and an irresistible mystery set in the turbulent, muscular new world of Toronto in the 20s and 30s. Michael Ondaatje entwines adventure, romance and history, real and invented, enmeshing us in the lives of the immigrants who built the city and those who dreamed it into being: the politically powerful, the anarchists, bridge builders and tunnellers, a vanished millionaire and his mistress, a rescued nun and a thief who leads a charmed life. This is a haunting tale of passion, privilege and biting physical labour, of men and women moved by compassion and driven by the power of dreams -- sometimes even to murder.
Bringing to life the fabulous, colorful panorama of New Orleans in the first flush of the jazz era, this book tells the story of Buddy Bolden, the first of the great trumpet players--some say the originator of jazz--who was, in any case, the genius, the guiding spirit, and the king of that time and place.
In this fictionalized meditation, Bolden, an unrecorded father of Jazz, remains throughout a tantalizingly ungraspable phantom, the central mysteries of his life, his art, and his madness remaining felt but never quite pinned down. Ondaatje's prose is at times startlingly lyrical, and as he chases Bolden through documents and scenes, the novel partakes of the very best sort of modern detective novel--one where the enigma is never resolved, but allowed to manifest in its fullness. Though more 'experimental' in form than either The English Patient or In the Skin of a Lion, it is a fitting addition to the renowned Ondaatje oeuvre.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Tumultuous, vibrant, tragic and over too soon." --Newsday
Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje's first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. The exquisite poems collected here draw on history, mythology, landscape, and personal memories to weave a rich tapestry of images that reveal the longing for--and expose the anguish over--lost loves, homes, and language, as the poet contemplates scents and gestures and evokes a time when "handwriting occurred on waves, / on leaves, the scripts of smoke" and remembers a woman's "laughter with its / intake of breath. Uhh huh."
Crafted with lyrical delicacy and seductive power, Handwriting reminds us of Michael Ondaatje's stature as one of the finest poets writing today.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With his first novel since the internationally acclaimed The English Patient, Booker Prize—winning author Michael Ondaatje gives us a work displaying all the richness of imagery and language and the piercing emotional truth that we have come to know as the hallmarks of his writing.
Anil’s Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war. Into this maelstrom steps Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human rights group to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island. What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity, about the unknown enemy, about the quest to unlock the hidden past–a story propelled by a riveting mystery. Unfolding against the deeply evocative background of Sri Lanka’s landscape and ancient civilization, Anil’s Ghost is a literary spellbinder–Michael Ondaatje’s most powerful novel yet.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In the late 1970s Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka. As he records his journey through the drug-like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that "pendant off the ear of India, " Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family. An inspired travel narrative and family memoir by an exceptional writer.
In his novels, poetry, and memoirs, Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje moves from the blasted landscape of Billy the Kid in 1880s New Mexico to the New Orleans jazz world of the legendary Buddy Bolden at the turn of the century, from his native Sri Lanka to the African desert of World War II. Compassionate, lyrical, spellbinding, the work he has created unfolds with mystery and eloquence and enlarges our literature.
Included in Vintage Ondaatje are portions of the novels Anil’s Ghost, In the Skin of the Lion, Coming Through Slaughter, and* The English Patient; the memoir Running in the *Family; sections from The Collected Works of Billy the Kid; and a selection of the poetry.
Vintage Readers are a perfect introduction to some of the great modern writers, presented in attractive, affordable paperback editions.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil's Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time. In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is shattered by an incident of violence that sets fire to the rest of their lives.
Divisadero takes us from San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada's casinos and eventually to the landscape of southern France. As the narrative moves back and forth through time and place, we find each of the characters trying to find some foothold in a present shadowed by the past.
Not a story about me through their eyes then. Find the beginning, the slight silver key to unlock it, to dig it out. Here then is a maze to begin, be in. (p. 20)
Funny yet horrifying, improvisational yet highly distilled, unflinchingly violent yet tender and elegiac, Michael Ondaatje’s ground-breaking book The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is a highly polished and self-aware lens focused on the era of one of the most mythologized anti-heroes of the American West. This revolutionary collage of poetry and prose, layered with photos, illustrations and “clippings,” astounded Canada and the world when it was first published in 1969. It earned then-little-known Ondaatje his first of several Governor General’s Awards and brazenly challenged the world’s notions of history and literature.
Ondaatje’s Billy the Kid (aka William H. Bonney / Henry McCarty / Henry Antrim) is not the clichéd dimestore comicbook gunslinger later parodied within the pages of this book. Instead, he is a beautiful and dangerous chimera with a voice: driven and kinetic, he also yearns for blankness and rest. A poet and lover, possessing intelligence and sensory discernment far beyond his life’s 21 year allotment, he is also a resolute killer. His friend and nemesis is Sheriff Pat Garrett, who will go on to his own fame (or infamy) for Billy’s execution. Himself a web of contradictions, Ondaatje’s Garrett is “a sane assassin sane assassin sane assassin sane assassin sane assassin sane” (p. 29) who has taught himself a language he’ll never use and has trained himself to be immune to intoxication. As the hero and anti-hero engage in the counterpoint that will lead to Billy’s predetermined death, they are joined by figures both real and imagined, including the homesteaders John and Sallie Chisum, Billy’s lover Angela D, and a passel of outlaws and lawmakers. The voices and images meld, joined by Ondaatje’s own, in a magnificent polyphonic dream of what it means to feel and think and freely act, knowing this breath is your last and you are about to be trapped by history.
I am here with the range for everything
corpuscle muscle hair
hands that need the rub of metal
those senses that
that want to crash things with an axe
that listen to deep buried veins in our palms
those who move in dreams over your women night
near you, every paw, the invisible hooves
the mind’s invisible blackout the intricate never
the body’s waiting rut.
From the Trade Paperback edition.