Saturday, December 8, 2012
Review: Grey Cats
4.5 Stars - Highly Recommended to readers who enjoy having a good story slap them in the face
Publisher: 3 AM / Press
Released: Nov 2012
"In ze night, all ze cats are grey."
Ah, Paris at night. I cannot imagine a more perfect setting for a love story. Nothing could be more romantic than walking hand in hand under the street bridges, following the silent canals that reflect the twinkling street lights, breathing in the smell of bread and cigarette smoke as you pass by the late night cafes, listening to the gentle clinking of silverware and the husky voices of those dining outside.
And yet nothing could be more heartbreaking than waking in the middle of a Paris night to discover her side of the bed cold and empty, throwing on clothes, and hustling out into the lonely dark to wander the streets in search of her.
She is a night person. You are of the day. This is not the Paris you are familiar with and it behaves much like a living, breathing thing. You should be wary of it, and yet, you believe you can tame it. As the city reacts to the threat of an impending ash cloud, you begin to trace the cold trail of her passing based on the words of complete strangers.
Adam Biles's Grey Cats, a finalist in the 2011 Paris Literary Prize, is tricky little thing. A deceptively delicious tale that is at once tender and twisted, we follow along in the shadows as our narrator moves through this dream-like terrain, spurred on by his intense longing and random encounters with an ex-convict, a roller-skating gang member, and a surly underground sex club pimp. As he picks his way through the dark underbelly of Paris in search of his Melina, we are bombarded by the memories of their relationship - a feisty, passionate coupling that, more times than not, leaves them achingly and emotionally spent. As we are left chewing on their history, he continues to weave his way deeper into the nightlife, and soon the two realities come collapsing in on each other.
Much like what I imagine it must feel like in those first few moments as you slip out of a fevered dream - the blurry vision and confusion wearing off, the slow realization of where you are and what you've just gone through - Grey Cats reads like a soft yet urgent slap in the face. (Are you awake, reader? Do you know where you are? Do you know what year it is? Phew! That was a close one. For a moment there, I thought we'd lost you.)
I dare you to finish it and fight the urge to reread it immediately, filled as you will be with the truth of what just took place. No, on second thought, I want you to. Because it won't be the same book the next time around.