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Blues For a Black Cat and Other Stories

Boris Vian

Blues For a Black Cat and Other Stories

In his Foreword to this collection, the late film director Louis Malle writes: "In Paris in the 1950's Boris Vian was everything--poet, fiction writer, singer, subversive actor, musician, and jazz critic. He was my friend and I admired him passionately for his eclecticism, devastating irony and taste for provocation."

BLUES FOR A BLACK CAT is one of 68 Vian titles available in France, but until recently most of Vian-in-translation was in libraries. Happily, this paperback reprint of Julia Older's translations has been attracting new fans. TamTam books is bringing out new translations of Vian's novels. And Older hopes to offer more Vian with her translations of his COLLECTED POEMS.

The original story collection Les Fourmis had as its title story "Pins And Needles," a black comedy centering on the Normandy invasion during WW II. Older titles her collection after an amusing story set in Paris after the liberation. The jaunty black cat and his Latin quarter friends are managing to charm reviewers from Boston to Brisbane, Australia..


from Blues For A Black Cat

The cat choked on his cognac and spit it all over. "Am I a cat or not?"
By the light of the fluorescent bulb, they really saw what type of cat he was. A terrible large cat with yellow eyes and a William II moustache. Lacy ears confirmed his virility and a large white scar, deplete of hair and coquetishly accentuated by a violet border, ran across his back.
The American asked, "Wounded, sir?"
"Yep. FFI," the cat answered, pronouncing it Ef Ef Ai like he should.

from Pins And Needles

I was in the barracks preparing a diversion for two of the guys. I had a small 81 mortar which I'd placed in a baby carriage. Johnny was going to disguise himself as a peasant and push it. Before we got started, the mortar dropped on my foot. With a hellish noise it exploded on one of those wing fans in the second story just over the piano on which our captain was playing "Jada." The piano was demolished. More annoying, the captain wasn't even scratched.
The translator includes an in-depth introduction and bibliography of Vian's works.

 Boris Vian
 $12.95 (116 pp), Quality Trade Paperback
 University of Nebraska Press, 1992, 2001
 ISBN 0803296096
 Prompt shipment
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"Ten avant-garde fables of serious whimsy, ushered in by Older's useful introduction, bibliography, and discography....the collection displays Vian's range from gallows humor to verbal fireworks....Playful and tough, fresh and zany."
-- Publishers Weekly
"{Blues for a Black Cat} has the unmistakable flavor of the time and place....the absurdist messages of rebellion, verbal riffs and goofy anarchic encounters....an expiring jazz-man who sells his sweat, a cat with a British accent, and a piano that mixes a cocktail when 'Mood Indigo' is played."
-- Boston Globe
"These stories are riotous, vintage Vian."
-- Review of Contemporary Fiction
"[Vian] has a cult of followers, many attracted by [his] virtuosity, but it is his humanity...that insures enduring interest in his work."
-- Austin Chronicle
"Blues for a Black Cat is a collection of moral fables....They offer serious indictments of human weakness and pretensions. Further, they reveal the spiritual emptiness just beneath our civilized fašade. Vian's blues are not only for a black cat, but for a society without meaning."
-- Manoa
"They offer new-comers a well-shaded bus stop on the way to Vianland."
-- James Sallis, Rain Taxi (2001)
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