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1. Running in the Family
2. Coming Through Slaughter
3. The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected
4. Divisadero
5. Anil's Ghost: A Novel
6. Handwriting: Poems
7. Vintage Ondaatje
8. The Conversations: Walter Murch
9. The Collected Works of Billy the
10. In the Skin of a Lion
11. Divisadero
12. The English Patient
13. The Story
14. Michael Ondaatje's The English
15. In the Skin of a Lion (Signed
16. Black Conservative Intellectuals
17. Spider Blues: Essays on Michael
18. Bookclub in a Box Discusses Anil's
19. Ragas of Longing: The Poetry of
20. Michael Ondaatje: Word, Image,

1. Running in the Family
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 208 Pages (1993-11-30)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679746692
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

2-0 out of 5 stars Abstruse Organization, Soporific Content
Upon finishing the first few chapters of this book, I was left confounded by the poor organization of the chapters and material. This is not an esoteric review, but rather I am speaking for all students that have read this book. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. It is one of the most worst books to read. STAY AWAY.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even Better Than The English Patient
Ondaatje at his loftily lyrical, yet unpretentious best. An undoubted favorite among Canadian literary memoirs, this is the story of Michael Ondaatje's crazy family, who were among the ruling class in colonial Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka. The writing is a beautiful spectacle but the content is highly personal, at times almost vulnerable for all the impenetrability of the prose.

Also the book is very funny. Ondaatje views his family as ridiculous and distances himself from them, but does so with an unmistakable love. Any scorn (a feeling anyone with a ridiculous family will find reflexive and familiar) seems squeezed out and we are left with a sense of reconciliation and the poetry of all things.

3-0 out of 5 stars Tigers
The times in the recent past that we have read about Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in the newspapers has concerned the Tamil Tigers who have finally been crushed and one wonders if they were fighting against a government controlled by Ondaatje-type people. The author's father was such a dedicated drunkard that its possible he actually was schizophrenic. I like the author best for his humorous detail but he never seems to get hold of a story too well and kind of staggers around with the shreds of it.At the end, I wondered was Doris his mother name or his stepmother's.Kudos to his mother for actually leaving his father and going to England where she earned her own living.The author doesn't think much of her but I do.What a brave woman.Is the author also a drunkard, I wonder?

5-0 out of 5 stars A Favorite Memoir
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its exotic locale and irreverent description of the author's own family.In fact, it made me laugh out loud in places.

2-0 out of 5 stars Irritating
Ondaatje seems to be trying too hard. The language is overly flowery and the plot is often lost beneath the mound of words. It does have a few good moments, some funny, some touching. But in general, I spent most of this book irritated by the grandois manner of the author, as if by writing in a vague and pretty-fied manner, his words will sound important and deep.
Maybe it's just me, but I find that vague does NOT equal meaningful. ... Read more

2. Coming Through Slaughter
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 160 Pages (1996-03-19)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679767851
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Chasing the rabbit
Better than any other writing I've ever seen, this book exposes the significance of one-off, non-reproducible performance as one of the inputs to the creation of jazz around 1900.The "strictly ear band".."used to kill".."the real reading band."The book's subject, Buddy Bolden, is given a core "fear of certainties," which is a marvelous expression of one of the delights of jazz.Stylistically the book is written in an analogous free form.The book is literature, as jazz is music, but the grammatical structure changes as often as the author sees fit.And no question, this book is beautifully written.
But even beyond jazz, Ondaatje has an almost throw-away passage about human compulsion, contrasted to motivation.It's memorable.At one point, Bolden has fled from his jazz life.He disappears, and finds an acceptable certainty in the love of a woman.But his friend tracks him down, and explains to him that he must return to jazz.His friend "was releasing the rabbit he had to run after, because the cage was open now and there would always be the worthless taste of the worthless rabbit when he finished."No doubt the origin of such compulsion to perform lies in the evolutionary selection of homo sapiens, but, from a romantic perspective that one sentence conveys completely the glory and doom of the human race.

5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE this book
I absolutely love this book. I think it is so well written and really interesting. Ondaatje includes such a variety of things about Bolden in this story and weaves them together in such an interesting way. definitely one of the best books i gave read in awhile. Also, i think he does an excellent job of representing the intensity and exuberance of Bolden's music while still representing the sadness of his actual life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Michael Ondaatje's haunting portrait of the mythical cornet player, Buddy Bolden, is a dimly poetic work of masterful writing. Set in the early years of 20th century New Orleans, Ondaatje masterfully recreates the atmosphere of African American life within the framework of their complex relationship to American art. Structured in a series of minimalist vignettes, the novel unfolds as a sequence of brief and faded snapshots which evoke the powerful degeneration of Buddy Bolden's genius. This is a remarkable work of fiction and a truly unique representation of the origins of Jazz-shadowed with a refined sense of the tragic.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Aquired Taste
If you're a fan of Michael Ondaatje's style (heavily poetic/lyric) you'll be a fan of this book.While it's short, it demands to be read slowly (some passages read more than once); both so that you can figure out what's going on and so that, once you do, you can appreciate it.Ondaatje succeeds in recreating a place and time that no longer exists, a testament to his research and skill.Why not five stars?It wasn't a book I couldn't put down, even though I didn't.

5-0 out of 5 stars What is a Creole?
In light of the confusion of the use of the term "Creole" in this book, readers must understand that the first usage of the term was by the Portuguese (crioulo) to describe their mixed offspring in Cape Verde and elsewhere. Eventually, it was used to describe any peoples born in the New World. In Louisiana, it was used first to describe all peoples born in Louisiana, and later used to distinguish French Louisianans from Cajuns and Americans. Free people of Color, who were also of French descent, did not begin to use this term until after the Civil War. They used it for the same reasons as their French cousins, to distinguish themselves from the Americans. ... Read more

3. The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 208 Pages (1997-01-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679779132
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
From the author of Coming Through Slaughter and The English Patient comes an evocative collection of poetry, written between 1963 and 1990. Reprint. 10,000 first printing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars Dark Poetry
Why bother to write poems that are so dark and sometimes mean? I discarded the book before finishing.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Ondaatje's Best Poems
I had the opportunity to hear Michael Ondaatje read his poem 'The Concessions' from this book at the Blyth Festival season launch and this poem is very beautiful. Not only is it a connection that is like no other with the area that it was written for. Ondaatje has really gotten into the sprit of the area as he pin points local figures 'the mystic from Millbank' we all knew who these people were that he was pin pointing which was very lovely. I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to have hear that poem that I went out and bought this book right away because of that poem. I recommed that you buy this book there are many other lovely poems but that one 'The Concessions' will forever stand out in my mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Collection
The wonderful collection of poems that comprise The Cinnamon Peeler were written by Michael Ondaatje during a twenty-year period.They are works of deep intimacy and dazzling beauty.

Not being a poet myself, I enjoyreading Ondaatje's gorgeous poetry to my novelist wife.

More than lovepoems, these works contain wonderful twists and turns that are both painfuland funny.Ondaatje has obviously turned to both Rousseau and WallaceStevens for inspiration, but he also contributes his own sense of the noveland his awareness of social strata.

This is a charming book, with a mutedsense of humor.With The Cinnamon Peeler, Ondaatje takes us deep insidehis own mind and heart.It is trip worth making.

5-0 out of 5 stars To understand Michael Ondaatje, read his poetry!
Michael Ondaatje knows how to write poetry.Primarily, he is a poet.Secondly a novelist.This collection contains a great variety of poems about day to day life, love, marriage, deep observations about children,humour, history and many more.

My favourite poem is ""To a SadDaughter"which has a universal appeal.Once, I read this poem to mywife just replacing the poet's daughter's infatuation: ice hockey playerswith our daughter's hobby. My wife remarked:"Great poem.So youwrite good poetry too!"

I also like other poems including "TheCinnamon Peeler","A House Divided", "Women LikeYou", "Billboards" and "Postcard From PiccadillyStreet".

Michael Ondaatje shares his great intimate moments with usincluding love, his recollection of places and relationships with us.Ifyou want to understand Ondaatje's prose, one must begging with his poetry. For anyone `The Cinnamon Peeler' is an entry into a dark and deep labyrinthpainted with human experience.When you come out of it, you'll be adifferent person.

This book is a one I read over and over again when I'mboth sad and happy!

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, readable mixture of poems
Michael Ondaatje knows how to mix humor, beauty, sadness, and acute observation together to make lovely works of art.This collection contains a great variety of poetry, from simple and touching observations about hischildren, to deeply imagined distant moments of wonder.My favorite is"Pure Memory/Chris Dewdney" which actually made me cry twice fortwo different reasons when I first read it.I will say no more here. "Elimination Dance" is also a fun one to read out loud. "The Cinnamon Peeler" itself is a fantastic love poem.There isso much good stuff in this. ... Read more

4. Divisadero
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 273 Pages (2008-04-22)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307279324
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
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.Amazon.com Review
From the celebrated author of The English Patient, comes another breathtaking, unforgettable story, this time about a family torn apart by an act of violence. Divisadero is a rich and rewarding read, one that Jhumpa Lahiri, in her guest review for Amazon.com (see below), calls "Ondaatje's finest novel to date." --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, as well as the PEN/Hemingway Award for her mesmerizing debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies. Her poignant and powerful debut novel, The Namesake was adapted by screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala, and released in theaters in 2007.

My life always stops for a new book by Michael Ondaatje. I began Divisadero as soon as it came into my possession and over the course of a few evenings was captivated by Ondaatje's finest novel to date. The story is simple, almost mythical, stemming from a family on a California farm that is ruptured just as it is about to begin. Two daughters, Anna and Claire, are raised not just as siblings but with the intense bond of twins, interchangeable, inseparable. Coop, a boy from a neighboring farm, is folded into the girls' lives as a hired hand and quasi-brother. Anna, Claire, and Coop form a triangle that is intimate and interdependent, a triangle that brutally explodes less than thirty pages into the book. We are left with a handful of glass, both narratively and thematically. But Divisadero is a deeply ordered, full-bodied work, and the fragmented characters, severed from their shared past, persevere in relation to one another, illuminating both what it means to belong to a family and what it means to be alone in the world. The notion of twins, of one becoming two, pervades the novel, and so the farm in California is mirrored by a farm in France, the setting for another plot line in the second half of the book and giving us, in a sense, two novels in one. But the stories are not only connected but calibrated by Ondaatje to reveal a haunting pattern of parallels, echoes, and reflections across time and place. Like Nabokov, another master of twinning, Ondaatje's method is deliberate but discreet, and it was only in rereading this beautiful book--which I wanted to do as soon as I finished it--that the intricate play of doubles was revealed. Every sign of the author's genius is here: the searing imagery, the incandescent writing, the calm probing of life's most turbulent and devastating experiences. No one writes as affectingly about passion, about time and memory, about violence--subjects that have shaped Ondaatje's previous novels. But there is a greater muscularity to Divisadero, an intensity born from its restraint. Episodes are boiled down to their essential elements, distilled but dramatic, resulting in a mosaic of profound dignity, with an elegiac quietude that only the greatest of writers can achieve. --Jhumpa Lahiri

... Read more

Customer Reviews (86)

2-0 out of 5 stars Terribly disappointing..
This book started out absolutely riveting, and it ended up being one of the worst reads I have ever suffered through.Just when it starts to get interesting, the author switches stories to narrate the painfully boring life of a depressed and introverted writer from a century ago.

I firmly believe all of the rave reviewers of this book, who said it was "haunting" and "compelling", just didn't want to admit that they didn't understand the book at all.Because as hard as the author tries, the book is completely devoid of value: plot, theme, or otherwise.

**On a side note, nothing drives me crazier than authors who refuse to use quotation marks. Really? You're too deep and brilliant of a writer to use correct punctuation? I don't think so. Not you or anyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars VERY UNEVEN FOR ME
I'm having trouble reading this book. I loved "Anhil's Ghost" and read it twice. Probably will read it again. And I liked "The English patient" although I didn't love it. But this book is very uneven for me. It hooks me and then it loses me, again and again. I loved it at first, especially the writing. Then on page 25 I almost quit. It was a matter of story material, not style. I was surprised that the action offended me so much, but it did. Partly, it's a matter of jumping conflict. The narrative doesn't prepare the reader for what happens. But I pushed on. Until I hit the gambling part, set in Lake Tahoe and Reno. None of this sounded real, at first. Much of story is reported, not rendered. On Page 44 I thought that I would quit. It seemed untrue. But by Page 50, it was wonderful again. The writing, the story flow, the insight into human nature, the sense of a travelogue of the soul -- all that is working again. I feel blinded, as if lost in a snow-storm at night. I trudge on, as if in a dream.

2-0 out of 5 stars Parts don't add up to a whole
Having enjoyed Ondaatje's poetry and read the positive reviews here, I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole book here to review.

Instead, Divisadero is a collection of story fragments, never fully realized. I don't believe this was a stylistic or metaphorical choice as some reviewers have suggested. I think this is a fundamental flaw to the narrative. It would have worked better as a collection of short stories where there might be a thread (I'm thinking of Pugilist at Rest or The New York Trilogy), but this is not the book described on its jacket or in the 5 star reviews. This is the scent of the rose, without the rose.

The language is beautiful, I admit. And I don't need all my stories tied up in a tidy little package. But this book left me ultimately unsatisfied. Furthermore, there are some very clumsy references to the Iraq wars and his geography of California is off, which further undermined the book.Really wish it could have been more.

1-0 out of 5 stars invisible book
Sorry.I can't review a book that I never received from Terrobi Products,even after contacting them.How do I get my money back???

5-0 out of 5 stars Like a cadence of longing these lovely characters will sing their songs into your soul
This is a book that I keep near me for re-reading on several occassions. Even after having read Divisadero more than a couple times, I don't feel that I can do the book justice with just a simple review.

The first portion of the book reads as if stepping into a scene from Heaven and experiencing life on a ranch with Claire, Anna, Coop and Claire and Anna's father. Life on the ranch falls neatly into place until the inevitable happens. The fall. Ondaatje's narration is so deft and lyrical that one forgets they are reading at times. After the fall, Coop's story moves into center stage and what is a spotlight on a rare treat the life of an orphan who is also a fairly good card counter. Passage into sin. Through this we see Coop as he is merely drifting through life as if riding out a duststorm of longing. I don't want to give it all away, but Coop's story is quite riveting after the idyllic life in Northern California has ended. And then Ondaatje does what he is so good at he takes the reader by the hand and pulls them into the French countryside to ride on a wagon with Lucien Segura. The light is dim as the reader travels along an unused road and listens to the birds in the darkness of early morning. A man wades out into a sea of grass claiming he's home. A scared boy rides a horse that's been spooked through the panic ridden night; nothing to hold onto but thick tufts of mane, while the blue light is all around and villages become dark splotches to be left behind. A pickpocket falls in love and stands within the grainy light of an old cottage watching Marie-Neige as she washes off the dirt caked memories and her eyes fill up with the past. The 2nd and third half of the book are some of the best examples of writing I've seen in awhile. There are passages that literally take their time in opening up the forest for the reader. I simply cannot undertake the task of dissecting them and holding them up to the light, because Ondaatje's words are still butterflies in my mind; these words to me are still very much alive, and how their wings are beating. ... Read more

5. Anil's Ghost: A Novel
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 307 Pages (2001-04-24)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375724370
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
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’smost powerful novel yet.
Amazon.com Review
In his Booker Prize-winning third novel, The English Patient,Michael Ondaatje explored the nature of love and betrayal in wartime. Hisfourth, Anil's Ghost, is also set during a war, but unlike in World WarII, the enemy is difficult to identify in the bloody sectarian upheavalthat ripped Sri Lanka apart in the 1980s and '90s. The protagonist, AnilTissera, a native Sri Lankan, left her homeland at 18 and returns toit 15 years later only as part of an international human rights fact-findingmission. In the intervening years she has become a forensicanthropologist--a career that has landed her in the killing fields ofCentral America, digging up the victims of Guatemala's dirty war. Now she'scome to Sri Lanka on a similar quest. But as she soon learns, there arefundamental differences between her previous assignment and this one:

The bodies turn up weekly now. The height of the terror was 'eighty-eightand 'eighty-nine, but of course it was going on long before that. Everyside was killing and hiding the evidence. Every side. This is anunofficial war, no one wants to alienate the foreign powers. So it's secretgangs and squads. Not like Central America. The government was not the onlyone doing the killing.
In such a situation, it's difficult to know who to trust. Anil's colleagueis one Sarath Diyasena, a Sri Lankan archaeologist whose politicalaffiliations, if any, are murky. Together they uncover evidence of agovernment-sponsored murder in the shape of a skeleton they nicknameSailor. But as Anil begins her investigation into the events surroundingSailor's death, she finds herself caught in a web of politics, paranoia,and tragedy.

Like its predecessor, the novel explores that territory where the personaland the political intersect in the fulcrum of war. Its style, though, ismore straightforward, less densely poetical. While many of Ondaatje'sliterary trademarks are present--frequent shifts in time, almosthallucinatory imagery, the gradual interweaving of characters' pasts withthe present--the prose here is more accessible. This is not to say thatthe author has forgotten his poetic roots; subtle, evocative images abound.Consider, for example, this description of Anil at the end of the day,standing in a pool of water, "her toes among the white petals, her armsfolded as she undressed the day, removing layers of events and incidents sothey would no longer be within her." In Anil's Ghost MichaelOndaatje has crafted both a brutal examination of internecine warfare andan enduring meditation on identity, loyalty, and the unbreakable hold thepast exerts over the present. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (182)

5-0 out of 5 stars Important views about Sri Lanka
I read this book while I was in Sri Lanka. I think the stories and perspective really helped me to speak to the people while I was there. There was so much more I wanted to ask but was not sure what was appropriate. This book helped me to understand some of the conflict during the War.

I wrote about this book recently:
Article first published as Sri Lanka: To Go or Not To Go? on Technorati.
After the 30 year civil war ended, we decided to go to Sri Lanka last summer. Our friends enjoyed a month of great travel in September 2009 and encouraged us to go.

Wondering about the impact of so many years of war, I was worried about this trip. When we arrived, I learned that there had been 450 years of Dutch, Portugese and British rule before the civil war. I decided to ask as many questions as I could.

During our six weeks in Sri Lanka, I was constantly amazed by the friendliness of the people. Everyone wanted to talk to us and tell us how happy they are that the war is over, that there is peace, and that they can now travel in their own country.

The young students we met at Anuradhapurna were from the East and no one had been able to travel to this incredible ancient site for decades. A large group of adults came by bus from Colombo to Nilaveli Beach and all the men wanted to shake our American hands, offer us drinks and ask, "Sri Lanka good?"

We told them, "Yes Sri Lanka is good. The people are so friendly." Perhaps the friendliest I have ever met in the 100+ countries I have seen! During our trip, I read several books of both fiction and non-fiction about Sri Lanka. Reading about string hoppers (noodles made of rice) while eating them for breakfast added to the entertainment.

Reading about the government secret killings and clashes between Tamils and Singhalese in Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost was spellbinding. What really happened I wondered? To read about the drama and struggle of women's daily lives from the point of view of Latha and Biso, two main characters in Ru Freedman's A Disobedient Girl, and then to see it was eye opening.

I turned to Jewish World Watch to discover more about the conflict in Sri Lanka. In their June World Crisis Update, Susan Brooks wrote: "Since 1983, Sri Lanka has suffered from continuous conflict between the government and a separatist rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (often known as the Tamil Tigers).

The conflict is estimated to have killed up to 80,000 people with over one million displaced...Both sides may have committed war crimes...Sri Lankan refugees are still living in transit camps while the land is being de-mined...The government continues to hold 11,000 alleged LTTE in 'rehabilitation centers with no legal representation, no access by human rights groups or relatives."

Our journey did not include the North and Jafna, foreigners were told you needed permission by the government to venture to the Far North. Many locals told us that they can and will go to Jafna but we were not allowed. I am not sure what the conditions are but the JWW report makes me wonder and so does the book Not Quite Paradise by Adele Barker.

Both sources indicate that there are ongoing issues. Staying at the YMBA (Young Man's Buddhist Association) in Kataragama and enjoying the pilgrimage festival, it appears that all is well. However, traveling the two or so "blocks" from our hostel to the beach in Nilaveli past barbed wire and Singhalese Buddhist soldiers makes me wonder. The security checks on the bus near Arugam Bay seemed more for alcohol than bombs but it is hard to know as an outsider.

I hope that tourism will continue to flourish along with peace, sealed roads and more freedom to travel. This small island nation is beautiful with treasures of ancient cities, national parks filled with elephants and leopards and wonderful welcoming people. I highly recommend making the effort to visit this wonderful country. Auyobawan and Stuti (Good bye and thank you).

3-0 out of 5 stars good
This is a good book. It had an interesting story line and I did not find it hard to follow like some other readers have. I enjoyed it, but I don't think it was one of Ondaatje's best.

2-0 out of 5 stars Read only if very desperate for reading material
The only thing I knew about Sri Lanka before picking up this book was that it lays on the Indian Ocean.The book was educative in that i learned more about the armed conflict they suffered in the 80s, its landscape, history, archeology, but as a piece of literature it was very, very rough to handle.There is an array of characters that don't serve much purpose, because they don't help define others.Anil is supposed to be the protagonist, yet her first husband, her parents, her caretaker Lalitha, her friend Leaf or her lover Cullin add nothing to the story and distract from the core.The narration is not terribly linear, and I found that there were many gaps in the story.I hate it when an author spells everything out for you, but Ondaatje's economy of plot and description were too much of a workout for my brain

4-0 out of 5 stars A Depressing Tale Exquisitely Told
The author of The English Patient describes Sri Lanka back in the days when civil war shook the entire nation over a period of 26 years and brothers were killing brothers.It was a terrifying journey into the minds of the scientists who survived, but just barely, and continued practicing their disciplines in spite of the threats from the government to shut them down for revealing the nasty secrets of mass graves and genocide. It is a story of sacrifice and denial, of courage and withdrawal. How can we from the western world begin to understand the terror and uncertainty involved in simply doing one's job on a daily basis? Ondaatje does an excellent job of defining it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Too Dry like a college Text book
I agree with most of the reviewers that gave not more than 2 stars.
This is one of the slow moving Fiction novel without a strong plot that can keep the readers on their toe for continuous reading.
I liked the last part of the narrative and the formation of the character Gamini.

... Read more

6. Handwriting: Poems
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 96 Pages (2000-03-14)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.42
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375705414
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"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.Amazon.com Review
Sumptuous, steamy, downright sexy: on the blush-o-meter Ondaatje scores a10. Those who can't get enough of his melodious prose--most notably inTheEnglish Patient, which earned him the Booker Prize in 1992--willfind the same lyrical genius in his verse. In his 10th collection,Ondaatje transports us to his childhood home of Sri Lanka. With strikinglysensuous imagery, he conjures a land of bangles, cattle bells,stilt-walkers, and a 1000-year-old buddha "buried in Anuradhapura earth, /eyes half closed, hands / in the gesture of meditation... roots / like thefingers of a blind monk / spread for two hundred years over his face." Asthe title suggests, Handwriting is an elegiac tribute to theancients who in "wild cursive scripts... spent all their years / writing onegood book"; whose "physical yearning / became permanent" and "desire becamedevotional." In his Sanskrit and Tamil love poem, "The Nine Sentiments,"Ondaatje not only proves most definitively that music is the key tounlocking a reader's heart, but also argues for poetry's healing powers intimes of strife:

The brush of sandalwood along a collarbone
Green dark silk
A shoe left
on the cadju tree terrace
these nights when "pools are
reduced by constant plungings"
Meanwhile a man's burning heart
his palate completely dry
on the Galapitigala Road
thinking there is water in that forest
Ondaatje's final poem, "Last Ink," explains why the need to preserve humanexperience through art is as instinctive as the desire to die in a lover'sarms. Dealing withlarge-scale emotions and scenes of love and war, these are poems thatstrike to the heart. --Martha Silano, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Handwriting
Sumptuous, steamy, downright sexy: on the blush-o-meter Ondaatje scores a 10. Those who can't get enough of his melodious prose--most notably in The English Patient, which earned him the Booker Prize in 1992--will find the same lyrical genius in his verse. In his 10th collection, Ondaatje transports us to his childhood home of Sri Lanka. With strikingly sensuous imagery, he conjures a land of bangles, cattle bells, stilt-walkers, and a 1000-year-old buddha "buried in Anuradhapura earth, / eyes half closed, hands / in the gesture of meditation...roots / like the fingers of a blind monk / spread for two hundred years over his face. " As the title suggests, Handwriting is an elegiac tribute to the ancients who in "wild cursive scripts...spent all their years / writing one good book"; whose "physical yearning / became permanent" and "desire became devotional. " In his Sanskrit and Tamil love poem, "The Nine Sentiments, " Ondaatje not only proves most definitively that music is the key to unlocking a reader's heart, but also argues for poetry's healing powers in times of strife: The brush of sandalwood along a collarbone Green dark silk A shoe left on the cadju tree terrace these nights when "pools are reduced by constant plungings" Meanwhile a man's burning heart his palate completely dry on the Galapitigala Road thinking there is water in that forest Ondaatje's final poem, "Last Ink, " explains why the need to preserve human experience through art is as instinctive as the desire to die in a lover's arms. Dealing with large-scale emotions and scenes of love and war, these are poems that strike to the heart.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lovely, Lyrical, and Lusty

Michael Ondaaatje walks with you into his Sri Lanka where the richness there inspires the lush lingering prose that issues from his pen.

In "THE SIYABASLAKARA" he begins....

"In the 10th century, the young princess
entered a rock pool like the moon

with a blue cloud

Her sisters
who dove, lit by flares,
were lightning

Water and erotics

The path from king to rainmaking"......

It is indeed a rich and luminous landscape that he portrays.

Follow him there!

This captivating, powerful little book will both delight and seduce at the same time!

1-0 out of 5 stars He's past his prime
I might be impressed by this book if I understood a single thing he wrote.Most of it is deliberately obscure and private with lots of 12 syllable Sri Lankan place names thrown in to ensure that it's impossible for anyone to read aloud.Nothing really stood out or inspired much interest.If you're still curious then get it from a library, don't shell out hard-earned cash for it, it's not worth it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good for V-Day
I could recommend this slim volume as a nearly perfect Valentine's Day gift based almost on the attractive appearance and reasonable price, alone. The content has merit as well, and I'm basically glad I read it. As I look at the reviews above, I find I agree with all of them- both the positive and the negative: they say the same things. Ondaatje hasn't written verse for fourteen years, devoting himself mostly to well-crafted prose fiction, and it shows. He has good control of topic and theme, an eye for detail and incident, and a very sensual command of the language. Any verse-craft is not at all in evidence- but it's easy reading in any case, so it is as much as most people may care.

2-0 out of 5 stars "?"
Here in Canada the name Michael Ondaatje elicits homage, and his readers are a dedicated, faithful lot. This year, his 1987 book "In The Skin Of A Lion" was selected (by Canadians) as the book all Canadians should read, or in other words... "thee great Canadian novel" in a national project known as "Canada Reads."
Confession: I'm Canadian and I've never read any Ondaatje fiction. (GASP)!
But in honor of the Canada Reads project I bought "In The Skin Of A Lion" and just haven't read it yet. So, forgive me.
(And now, for the unforgivable)...
I thought I'd start off with delving into some of his poetry first.
Bad idea.
I picked up his "Handwriting" (poems written between 1993 and 1998, dealing mostly with a recollection of his homeland, Sri Lanka)... and I think I approached the book with as open or non-judgmental of an attitude as is possible.
But poem after poem I waited for some image or experience to provide meaning beyond the mere succession of words and snatches of unfinished thought, and nothing really worked for me. I finished the volume convinced that no reader can fully appreciate what is going on in these poems unless perhaps they happen to live within a ten mile radius of the events and scenes these poems describe.
Everything is in free verse, not a rhyme in the lot.
Note the following representative example, complete with a title nearly as long as the poem itself:

Driving with Dominic in the Southern Province We See Hints of the Circus

The tattered Hungarian tent

A man washing a trumpet
at a roadside tap

Children in the trees,

one falling
into the grip of another

Now come on, let's be serious, I could compose such a sequence in my own head in the time it takes to light a cigarette and blow out the match... and I don't even smoke!
I realize that Ondaatje fans will find those comments offensive, and it may be arguable that I am just too dense to appreciate Ondaatje's "delicacy and power" and "whimsical precision and authority" that the dustjacket promises to those that read beyond it... but, at the same time, I am not easily convinced of my own stupidity. I think I do know good poetry when I see it. And I do not judge Ondaatje AS A POET, especially since I have not read his other nine or ten published books of poetry, but I am singling out "Handwriting" as the only thing I've read so far. And I give it two stars for its occasional beauty:

The curve of the bridge
against her foot

her thin shadow falling
through slats
into water movement

Will this book keep me from reading that other stuff of his? Not at all. In fact, I look forward to finding his other work as memorable as this was forgettable. ... Read more

7. Vintage Ondaatje
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 192 Pages (2004-10-12)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$5.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400077443
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars And the best is yet to come.
I wish there was a way I could give a copy of this book to everyone who wants to write in America.I don't know how many years I've been reading Ondaatje's books, but it must have been in college I picked up a copy of his BILLY THE KID book and plunged in, getting high on the strangeness and weirdness and, what I didn't immediately perceive, its Canadianness.The poetry of the book made its story come alive in dazzling ways, like great gardens of tumbleweeds springing up from the sand and beginning to roll at a word.VINTAGE ONDAATJE brings together a lot of work from the beginning of his career to excerpts from his latest novel, ANIL'S GHOST, which I'm sure will rank as one of his finest achievements, even though it didn't have perhaps the cultural oomph of its predecessor, the Booker Prize winner THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

Even from the limited sections printed here in VO, ANIL'S GHOST reveals itself slowly, deliberately, as though emerging from a film of water, or through the smoke of burning sandalwood.If throughout his body of work Ondaatje has celebrated and critiqued the modern world's nomadism, ANIL'S GHOST reworks some familiar concepts and makes them new again.Cunningly the poems sometimes serve as a sort of garnish for the longer prose works, and at other times the poems themselves seem like the polished, rafined quintessences of glorious mystery.I think of him as I think of D H Lawrence, a marvelous poet whose artillery, or arsenal of poetic effects and knowledge are even better put to serve in the making of a series of brilliant modern novels.That's not to say I'd throw out BIRDS, BEASTS AND FLOWERS to make room for, say, WOMEN IN LOVE, I'm just saying you couldn't have the latter without the former.

I can't believe I'm the first to speak up about this book.As I say, I hope that in the future everyone will receive a copy of this book at birth.It should be an essential human right like access to clean water and no more circumcision. ... Read more

8. The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 368 Pages (2004-10-05)
list price: US$21.00 -- used & new: US$12.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375709827
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The Conversations is a treasure, essential for any lover or student of film, and a rare, intimate glimpse into the worlds of two accomplished artists who share a great passion for film and storytelling, and whose knowledge and love of the crafts of writing and film shine through.

It was on the set of the movie adaptation of his Booker Prize-winning novel, The English Patient, that Michael Ondaatje met the master film and sound editor Walter Murch, and the two began a remarkable personal conversation about the making of films and books in our time that continued over two years. From those conversations stemmed this enlightened, affectionate book -- a mine of wonderful, surprising observations and information about editing, writing and literature, music and sound, the I-Ching, dreams, art and history.

The Conversations is filled with stories about how some of the most important movies of the last thirty years were made and about the people who brought them to the screen. It traces the artistic growth of Murch, as well as his friends and contemporaries -- including directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Fred Zinneman and Anthony Minghella -- from the creation of the independent, anti-Hollywood Zoetrope by a handful of brilliant, bearded young men to the recent triumph of Apocalypse Now Redux.

Among the films Murch has worked on are American Graffiti, The Conversation, the remake of A Touch of Evil, Julia, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather (all three), The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The English Patient.

“Walter Murch is a true oddity in Hollywood. A genuine intellectual and renaissance man who appears wise and private at the centre of various temporary storms to do with film making and his whole generation of filmmakers. He knows, probably, where a lot of the bodies are buried.” ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

4-0 out of 5 stars Sterling book, not unimportant
Look at the 4 or 5 star reviews, which seem about right. Not a technical book about editing--there are tons of books on that--but a few gems do stand out, like Coppola's occasional use of same costume for actors, which can help the editing process. Quite insightful, by a master editor and writer, on some of the best US films.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Book About Creating Art
This is a book that gets you deep into the filmmaking process -- and actually, the making of any art. Murch reveals a lot about what it's like to edit film. The more I learn about film editors, the more respect I have for them. Plus, Ondaatje makes very fine contributions to this book. He has the role of interviewer and he asks really good questions ... and he talks about writing which was also very interesting. This is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book. Highly. It's THE best book I've ever read about making art. [But I haven't read Maya Lin's Boundaries yet.]

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent conversation between award winning professionals in two creative fields: the novel & film
If you want to sit in and hear to brilliant creative artists reveal how they go about making "choices" which is the heart of each of their works--novel and film--then this book is for you.I have done graduate school in both of these creative arts and still found these conversations more pointedly helpful for seeing how these two arts work than most other parts of my studies.Jump in, very friendly, and informative conversations.

4-0 out of 5 stars Casual Conversations + Occasional Heavy Insights = A Four Star Book
The full title of "The Conversations" is a bit misleading, since anyone reading it expecting a linear, orderly text on the art of film editing will not find it here. For that we have Murch's own In the Blink of an Eye Revised 2nd Edition. I read that book before this one, and I have a strong sense that that reading "Blink" first will greatly enhance "The Conversations."
What makes both books good is Murch himself, whose writing and speaking styles would be best described as casually theoretical. Murch talks about literary and cinematic subjects which are usually reserved for the realm of academic writing, but he speaks about these subjects in a way that is very accessible even as it gets perplexing. He doesn't indulge in jargon; he expresses rambling, abstract thoughts in very easy-to-read English. Ondaatje also does an excellent job of encouraging Murch to explore his thoughts further.
The book's greatest strength is in its anecdotes from film productions. The book is chock full of them, but his story about Fred Zinneman's (director of Julia, which Murch edited, in addition to many classic 20th century movies zealous objection to correcting "mistakes" and the revelations about his Frankenstein-style cutting and pasting of sound and images in The English Patient (Miramax Collector's Edition)are perhaps the most intriguing and insightful.
Even in Murch and Ondaatje's less focused conversations, many insights about the creative process are to be found, and the book as a whole will satisfy any true fan of movies who enjoys learning about the movie-making process and the temperaments of the people involved.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Language of Editing
It is always a pleasure to read anything by Michael Ondaatje and to take in any film edited by Walter Murch. The pleasure is compouinded, then, by reading this dialogue between the two men -- masters in their fields. This book reviews Walter Murch's professional life and along the way, provides a look at the history of film itself from the one-dimensional nature of its birth to the multi-dimensional layers of sight and sound available today. Murch has made scientific and visceral contributions to the medium, some of which are described in the book, bringing to even more life for the reader some of the best films of the ages.
If you care about good films, if you are interested in learning the art of movie editing or soundscape creation, or if you love words and how they can be used to enlighten, I recommend this book of Conversations. ... Read more

9. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 128 Pages (1996-03-19)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067976786X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From the Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient comes a visionary novel, a virtuoso synthesis of storytelling, history, and myth, about William Bonney, a.k.a. "Billy the Kid, " a bloodthirsty ogre and outlaw saint. "Ondaatje's language is clean and energetic, with the pop of bullets."--Annie Dillard. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars A quiet, meditative treatise on the outlaw of note
Like gossamer in both size and theme, Michael Ondaatje's sensitive, revisionist "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" presents to the reader a variety of stories, vignettes, poems, and meanderings about, and most interesting, "by", the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid.Like the terrific Andrew Dominick movie about another famous American legend of the old west, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford", Mr. Ondaatje's book celebrates and vilifies the central figure in question for the things we know about him, and speculates- again, in both a positive and critical manner- about the things we don't, including inner character, motivations, and relationships with others.I'd recommend taking a day or two to read this short book on Billy the Kid, and sometime during the process watch the Jesse James movie I mentioned above.Together, you'll experience a tough yet melancholy look at two of our country's most interesting historical personages and the endlessly fascinating period they inhabited.

4-0 out of 5 stars A mixed genre work that ultimately entertains
At first, reading this book was a bit disconcerting - it rambles from one genre to the next, mixing prose, poetry, and script/interview. I was a little confused about point of view. Soon, however, the book drew me in and I found I couldn't stop reading it. Once I relaxed and allowed the book take me away, I enjoyed it very much.

If you enjoy mixed genre pieces, you will absolutely love this book. If you do not, you won't enjoy it. If in doubt, borrow it from your public library. This mixed genre book ultimately was very entertaining.

4-0 out of 5 stars [...]
THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID BY MICHAEL ONDAATJE: From the author of The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje, comes one of his first published works, now available in paperback featuring a new afterword by the author: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid.

A short book of only 130-odd pages, it features a collection of stream of consciousness poetry, prose, and photographs surrounding the legend of Billy the Kid.In the afterword Ondaatje discusses how he began collecting pieces about Billy the Kid early on in his career, researching what he could, and writing short pieces of poetry, imagining what Billy the Kid (also known as William Bonney) was actually like.The poetry is written in the style of e e cummings, with short stanzas bursting with description and scenery as the reader sees through Billy the Kid's eyes.

The book is not your average story with a beginning, middle and end, but more a collection of poetry, prose and photos, almost like a documentary collection, except Ondaatje wrote a lot of the fiction, drawing from his own life experiences and incidents.The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is nevertheless a fascinating read featuring Ondaatje at his best, revealing his skill and power with words, while offering up an interesting albeit unusual history on the legendary outlaw.

1-0 out of 5 stars horrible
This is one of the most disgusting books I have ever been forced to read. I believe college professors can find something better to use as examples in their classes. Stay away....if you know what's good for you, STAY AWAY!!

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Book For the Non-serious BTK Fan!
The book is very fun to read, but is not for the serious Billy the Kid fans.It holds your interest well, as long as, you don't take it too serious.The author is good at what he does and this book is well written.But, don't look for any new, serious information on Billy because it is not there.My review is written strictly from a nonfiction point of view and should be read with that in mind.I read the complete book and enjoyed reading it, but there is nothing in it to really grasp as fact. ... Read more

10. In the Skin of a Lion
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 256 Pages (1997-01-14)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679772669
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Bristling with intelligence and shimmering with romance, this novel tests the boundary between history and myth. Patrick Lewis arrives in Toronto in the 1920s and earns his living searching for a vanished millionaire and tunneling beneath Lake Ontario. In the course of his adventures, Patrick's life intersects with those of characters who reappear in Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning The English Patient. 256 pp. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (78)

2-0 out of 5 stars Too many plots with too many "characters"
I found this book incredibly slow and over-detailed with scenery depictions and metaphors. It dropped into the abyss of sappiness. The first 30 pages took me two days to get through and as if coming out of the fog, a story finally emerged. However, after meeting Nicholas Temelcoff and getting to know him and his quirky introduction to Alice, he was dropped like a hot potato. Alas we were then re-introduced to Patrick, who was one big hopeless romantic. Truthfully the end was the most boggling and felt as if a piece was left out, but, that's sort of how I felt after every chapter. The textbook style descriptions of water tunnels, pipes and bridges left me thinking the author really wanted to write a book about something completely different. And if I had been going to school to become a plumber, this information would have been handy. However, I just didn't care and therefore skipped many paragraphs when it delved into Commissioner Harris.

Maybe I'm just not a deep, descriptive, several stories-wrapped-into-one kind of literary reader that needs lots of random thoughts and plumbing information to keep me entertained.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is my favorite novel of all time
I first read this book in 1995 and I re-read it every couple of years. The prose is gorgeous and nuanced and the characters are so full-fledged that they take on the familiarity of old friends. The dozens of reviews here already go over the specific merits in great detail, so I will simply note that this book is always my first recommendation when asked for a good book of fiction.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Trust me, this will take time ...
... but there is order here, very faint, very human."This should be the first sentence of every novel, the narrator reflects midway in Michael Ondaatje extraordinary novel.And he makes taking the time more than worthwhile.Actual short news items are creatively woven into a tapestry of life in and around Toronto during the early decades of the last century. Real or realistic characters, essential for the construction of the city at the time are at the centre of the story: primarily immigrant workers from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds. Ondaatje makes them the heroes of this powerful and captivating novel, with a few established Canadians added into the mix and set against the social and political context of the time."It is a novel about the wearing and the removal of masks; the shedding of skin, the transformations and translations of identity." Ondaatje stated in an interview, hinting at the novel's title, taken from the ancient Sumerian Epic, Gilgamesh.

A nun falls off a bridge under construction, a millionaire theatre mogul disappears, neither person to be traced or washed up somewhere... "Official histories, news stories surround us daily, but the events of art reach us too late, travel languorously like messages in a bottle."Yet in his novel, the author spins a possible continuation of each news story, bringing the events to life, giving the characters an alternative reality, in which their lives are closely connected to other, imagined, characters.

Patrick Lewis is the central figure in the novel, the linking element of what initially may appear as disconnected stories. With his father he lives on a farm and learns his father's skill as a logging dynamiter. One night, he watches a group of loggers, Finns, dancing on the frozen river, burning cattails in hand. "...Skating the river at night, each of them moving like a wedge into the blackness magically revealing the grey bushes of the shore, HIS shore, HIS river." [emphasis in the text in italics] He is too uncertain of himself to join them despite being transfixed by the beauty and grace of it."So at this stage in his life, his mind raced ahead of his body."As he grows up and moves around the different lowly jobs open to him, he is increasingly drawn to the communities his mates come from.As one of the few "locals" and English speaking characters, he realizes that the others are not the outsiders, rather he is. He has become the observer and a sideline to events and stories."His own life was no longer a single story, but part of a mural, which was a falling together of accomplices. Patrick saw a wondrous night web - all of these fragments of a human order, something ungoverned by the family he was born into or the headlines of the day."

One of Patrick's many jobs is that of a "seeker" a private investigater of sorts, who is tasked with finding the whereabouts of Ambrose Small, the theatre mogul. What starts as a job grows into a quest and later obsession, less related to Small as time goes by as to Clara, the gorgeous and mysterious lover. Patrick's emotional maturity will be tested more than once.

Ondaatje is a poet at heart.He is well known for his lyrical strength in evoking emotions and describing intimate relationships and in this novel, these form an essential element in his protagonist's life.In addition, though, whether evoking the atmosphere of the loggers dance on the ice or the depicting the construction workers labouring on the bridge, the leather dyers at the abattoir, he finds a language that adds vivid imagery and poetry to the hardest human conditions.Few authors would have the power of words to bring beauty to the description of the leather dyers, covered in yellow, blue or green dyes, standing together like a living sculpture... Their dangerous work, like that of the bridge construction workers or the dynamiter and others is conveyed with understanding, empathy for the men while at the same time reflecting the growing anger against those in control: those who take "collateral" damage for granted and pass on to the next party and drink.The social tensions in the society of the day are one of the underlying threads of the novel, integrated subtly as an integral part of the immigrants' surroundings and realities. Similar to Divisadero, the various narrative strings are pulled together at the end, but it is helpful to re-read the beginning to close the ellipse completely.A remarkable novel of timeless power [Friederike Knabe]

5-0 out of 5 stars Film Clips
As epigraph to this, his second novel (1987), Michael Ondaatje quotes John Berger: "Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one." As in all his novels up to his latest, DIVISADERO, he delights in telling what seem to be several different stories at once, apparently unconnected in literal terms, but subtly related in imagery and theme. Gradually, the connections become more apparent, but be warned: much of the work is left to the reader, and not all the loose ends get tied up.

Personally, I find this fascinating. Ondaatje has the power of pulling you in with vividly-realized scenes as unforgettable as film clips; in the first few pages alone, a boy helping his father haul a cow out of the mud, Finnish lumbermen skating at night by the light of burning cattails held above their heads, and a man who catches a nun blown off a bridge in a storm. The boy, Patrick Lewis, will move as a laborer to Toronto in the 1920s and become the nearest thing to a protagonist in the story, though filling this role as much by what he reveals of the life and people around him as by anything he does himself. The nun disappears from the action unnamed, leaving the reader wondering what happened to her; only much later are we given enough information to guess. The skating lumbermen are peripheral to the story, but the firefly image of flames moving through darkness recurs four or five times more, and will culminate in the striking picture from THE ENGLISH PATIENT of the Sikh sapper showing the frescoes in Arezzo to the Canadian nurse Hana, while swinging from a rope to the light of a hand-held flare. Indeed Hana herself is introduced in this earlier book as a child, together with one of the other characters from THE ENGLISH PATIENT, David Caravaggio, the professional thief.

I hate to tie down such an open-ended book by specifying a theme, but the word that comes to me is inequality. Certainly social inequality. This was a time of unionization, labor unrest, Marxist and anarchist movements. Ondaatje is firmly on the side of the poor, the polyglot immigrants, the workers in such horrible conditions that their lives are shortened just through the fact of having a job. Many of the happenings in the later part of the book are inexplicable except in the context of such class warfare, though the writing is stronger because the cause and effect is never explicit. But there are other kinds of inequality also: between lawlessness and order, between women and the men who feel they scarcely deserve their love, and between adult and child. Ondaatje constantly strikes sparks across opposite poles of such surprising brilliance that he both catches the reader unawares and amazes him with his inner truth. Perhaps he owes something to EL Doctorow in books like RAGTIME. He has certainly set an example for other Canadian writers such as Jane Urquart (A MAP OF GLASS) and Anne Michaels (THE WINTER VAULT). But Ondaatje has an intensity which makes him, for me, the most exciting of the lot.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This is a spectacular reading experience.Each word is carefully chosen to produce the most incredible imagery.It is a book that needs to be read slowly and savored for the complete mastery of the prose.A work of art. ... Read more

11. Divisadero
by Michael Ondaatje
Hardcover: 280 Pages (2007-08-31)

Isbn: 3446209239
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Memories Return and Reveal
Divisadero: A dividing line. Also a point from which you can look far into the distance. Also a street in San Francisco. In Ondaatje's Divisadero, it is an incorrectly folded map joining incongruities. It is also a villanelle, with a single shared memory as its refrain. It is an archive of forgotten writing, a farm house in France, a cabin on a ridge in Northern California. It is the buzz and ring of Tahoe casinos and the hum of the engine on an all-night drive. InMichael Ondaatje's story of abandonment and abandoning, of longing and unrequited desire, a violent memory ties together the lives of his characters(Anna, Claire, their father, the farmhand Coop) through the great distances, emotional and physical, that separate them. The longing itself takes on its own proportions, as it forces them to revisit their collective memory, to make sense of the burn of the past. "It is the hunger, what we do not have, that holds us together." ... Read more

12. The English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje
Paperback: 320 Pages (1993-11-30)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679745203
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Booker Prize-winning novel, now a critically acclaimed major motion picture, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Kristin Scott Thomas. With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces theintersection 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 illuminates this book like flashes of heat lightening.Amazon.com Review
Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it isdisturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement offour damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. Theexhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper,Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, thenameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memoriesof passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes ofheat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness,Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, thenunravels the threads with unsettling acumen.

A book that binds readers of great literature, The EnglishPatient garnered the Booker Prize for authorOndaatje. The poet and novelist has also written In the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughterand The Collected Works ofBilly the Kid; two collections of poems, The Cinnamon Peeler andThere's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do; and a memoir, Runningin the Family. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (310)

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful novel about relationships
I found The English Patient to be a fantastic book, but one which is a bit emotionally taxing, particularly the utterly heart-rending ending, which I won't give away, but which tears the community of World War II survivors apart.

I know that for most people The English Patient conjurs up ideas about a great tragic love story between the main character--the English patient--and his forbidden love.For me, however, the love story fell a little bit flat.Maybe it was because I had heard so much about the romantic side of the narrative and perhaps had expected too much from it in terms of romance.And while the love story certainly is central to the plot surrounding the English patient, it's hardly the kind of romance for which anyone would hope themselves.This is not the kind of love story which will make young women fantacize about being Katherine and falling for the mysterious desert-obsessed English patient.Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I didn't shed any tears over the end of their doomed romance, as I had found it rather uninspiring myself.

*note that I have not yet seen the film of The English Patient.My understanding is that the impact of the final scenes is significantly different, bringing more focus and attention to the love story, and for this reason the love story may be more powerful in the film, but I'm not in a position to judge.*

What truly touched me about the narrative of The English Patient was everything but the English patient.Hana was one of the most interesting characters in the novel, in my opinion, as was Kip.Now that I consider this, it's really not all that surprising given my interst in postcolonialism--particularly Indian literature--since Kip and his relationship with the other characters in the novel, all of whom are western define the final conflict of the narrative as a conflict between the west--symbolized in England--and the east--symbolized in both Japan and India.I'm afraid to go on about the powerful nature of this relationship and the consequences for the end of the novel because I don't want to give away too much about the end of the book.My hope, after all, is to inspire others to read great literature, not to make reading great literature unnecessary as I summarize it all.:)

Another very powerful relationship within the novel was the relationship between Hana and her father.I found Caravaggio a rather uninspiring character, but his role within the context of Hana's relationship with her father was crucial.I found that Caravaggio was most interesting and complex when he reminisced about his history as a friend of Hana's father and his memories of her as a child.Hana's final coming to terms with her relationship with her father, with her place in the war, and with the circumstances of her father's life was also extremely powerful, but again I don't want to give too much away.

Suffice it to say that The English Patient is one of those books which everyone ought to read, though be warned that while it is a deceptively slim novel it is also powerfully heavy and an incredibly serious novel.This is one which you won't forget any time soon, and which you will likely mentally chew over for a long time to come.

Read all of my book reviews on my blog at [...]

5-0 out of 5 stars Complex story with fascinating characters
The rich writing conveys the desert setting, powerful love affair and intriguing adventures of five main characters.It keeps readers on their toes as it jumps from past to present, one character's point of view to another'sbut is well worth the effort required .Themes and nuances are many.The book is worthy of a dissertation topic.

Reading the book and then seeing the film make a very fascinating duo.Surprisingly, each is strong in its own way.

5-0 out of 5 stars one of my favorites!
It's too bad they make movies out of all the best books because they never do them justice. My other favorite authors are Annie Proulx, Anais Nin and Don Dellilo. If you like their writing styles and sensibilities then you'll love this book!

2-0 out of 5 stars the movie was better, and different
so I saw the movie when it came out, and really liked it.I always meant to read the book and finally found a copy.I made several attempts to get started and found it confusing and impenetrable.finally, I decided to plow through to the end believing it must be good since the movie was, and the book was a best-seller.

I must say that there isn't much to the book.nothing happens; no real plot develops.it just ends, with a little end-note about Kip the sapper after the war which was both jarring and unnecessary.

the most unsatisfying loose-end is the fate of the patient Almasy.the book ended with him in bed just like it started, and never having been forthcoming with Hana, Carvaggio, or Kip.

also, once in the book it says the Bedouins treated Almasy with tannic acid which turned his skin dark.that is truly bizarre. this is how you tan animal hides to make leather.it kills the cells and makes them non-porous.is there a dermatologist in the house to comment?

4-0 out of 5 stars English Patient
The English Patient is by far one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The words are so generous and descriptive, each page was an adventure into the lives of the characters, and every work delicious. I have not read any other books by Michael Ondaatje, but I will certainly be looking for others.
I would recommend this book to anybody who can appreciate good literature, not to the lover of the Mills and Boon type book. ... Read more

13. The Story
by Michael Ondaatje
Hardcover: 48 Pages (2006-03-10)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$4.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0887841945
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Michael Ondaatje's poems have been celebrated by readers and writers alike for containing some of the most memorable and moving verse written in the past half-century. The Story combines Ondaatje's sensual writing with watercolor illustrations by celebrated painter David Bolduc, making a unique item. Left-hand pages contain Bolduc's art while right-hand pages contain Ondaatje's poem — both typeset and in the author's own handwriting. This elegant housing is a fitting accompaniment to Ondaatje's elegaic poem, which follows his larger themes — love, memory, family, exile — even as it unfolds into "our dismantled childhoods," and offers readers the opportunity to extend its narrative into their own lives. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars NICE BOOK
I knew the poem "The Story" from another collection of poetry. But it is still nice to have the book "The Story"!

5-0 out of 5 stars "and then the past is erased"........
.....We are told on the first page of "THE STORY".

Children are given forty days of dreams of previous lives and then "the past is erased".

This is a beautifully written and illustrated little book that teases out questions and follows with elegiac whispers of the memories, the histories that were present before the maps were buried.

The poem takes us to a place we have already been trained to enter and conquer, only any projection past that point is unknown..... thus at the end we are left to reflect and wonder.....and hope for our future.

Michael Ondaatje magically takes the reader into his hands and transports him gently through his poem in a dreamlike haze.

This lovely little book would make a wonderful gift and knowing that all royalties go directly to a fundraising project for World Literacy of Canada is an added bonus! ... Read more

14. Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)
by John Bolland
Paperback: 96 Pages (2002-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0826452434
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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This is part of a new series of guides to contemporary novels. The aim of the series is to give readers accessible and informative introductions to some of the most popular, most acclaimed and most influential novels of recent years – from ‘The Remains of the Day’ to ‘White Teeth’. A team of contemporary fiction scholars from both sides of the Atlantic has been assembled to provide a thorough and readable analysis of each of the novels in question. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Slight but worthwhile
Of the three volumes I've looked at in this series, this is the only one I've found worth keeping.A major disappointment of these brief discussions is the failure to include a timeline summary--of either the narrative or the actions it contains.As a consequence, the usefulness of the commentary is limited to readers who are fresh from reading the novel.

All the same, Bolland brings lots of welcome information, helpful clarification, and fresh critical perspective to Ondaatje's major achievement.Moreover, his frequent reference to postcolonial theory and Foucault post-structuralism proves to enhance rather than obfuscate his discussion of the novel.Somewhat disappointing, however, is the author's decision to afford no more than 4 pages to the film, especially given its critical reputation and Ondaatje's keen interest in the project.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview
This short book is an excellent overview for people reading or studying The English Patient. I got it to help with an English/linguistics course with the novel as key text, and it has been very helpful to me. I found though that it was an interesting read in itself and in some cases gave me new insight into others of Ondaatje's books which I have read for pleasure rather than studying.
The first chapters are invaluable for providing a background to Ondaatje's work through his personal and academic history, as well as charting the development of the Canadian post-modern movement which provides much of the impetus behind Ondaatje's work. There are numerous and detailed references to his other works as well, which help in showing the development of the concerns and themes prevalent in The English Patient.
The section dealing with the narrative and thematic structure of the novel was exceptional - I make particular note of the section on intertextuality, where clear points and inferences are made about the relation between the novel and key intertexts such as Kim.
The section on the movie didn't seem to live up the promise - it would have been good to have seen more detail on the similarities and differences between the two texts, and the implications of some of the decisions Minghella made about changing the script.
All in all a good resource, but the detail on theory (e.g. post-modernism) may be irrelevant to high school students. There is also a comprehensive list of articles and websites for further reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars New and Interesting
This is not a sereis of books that I have seen before, so I don't know if any of the others are good, but this particular volume was very helpful. Short enough to get through in one sitting, it helped me get my thoughts together about The English Patient. I hadn't been sure how to approach it beforehand. I'll admit that once or twice the author lost me - it's a complex novel and his analysis of it is, at times, equally complicated. Ultimately it works, though. You get the impression that John Bolland would be a good teacher. Recommended, if you need help with this novel. ... Read more

15. In the Skin of a Lion (Signed By Author)
by Michael Ondaatje
 Paperback: 256 Pages (1994)

Isbn: 014024039X
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16. Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America
by Michael L. Ondaatje
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2009-11-05)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$30.28
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Asin: 0812242068
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In the last three decades, a brand of black conservatism espoused by a controversial group of African American intellectuals has become a fixture in the nation's political landscape, its proponents having shaped policy debates over some of the most pressing matters that confront contemporary American society. Their ideas, though, have been neglected by scholars of the African American experience—much of the responsibility for explaining black conservatism's historical and contemporary significance has fallen to highly partisan journalists. Typically, those pundits have addressed black conservatives as an undifferentiated mass, proclaiming them good or bad, right or wrong, color-blind visionaries or Uncle Toms.

In Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America, Michael L. Ondaatje delves deeply into the historical archive to chronicle the origins of black conservatism in the United States from the early 1980s to the present. Focusing on three significant policy issues—affirmative action, welfare, and education—Ondaatje critically engages with the ideas of nine of the most influential black conservatives. He further documents how their ideas were received, both by white conservatives eager to capitalize on black support for their ideas and by activists on the left who too often sought to impugn the motives of black conservatives instead of challenging the merits of their claims. While Ondaatje's investigation uncovers the themes and issues that link these voices together, he debunks the myth of a monolithic black conservatism. Figures such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Hoover Institution's Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele, and cultural theorist John McWhorter emerge as individuals with their own distinct understandings of and relationships to the conservative political tradition.

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17. Spider Blues: Essays on Michael Ondaatje
by Sam Solecki
Paperback: 369 Pages (1985-06)
list price: US$16.00
Isbn: 0919890660
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Editorial Review

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This anthology of essays, reviews and interviews dealing with the poetry and fiction of Michael Ondaatje represents the first sustained attempt at a comprehensive critical view of an important North American writer still very much in mid-career. Includes contributions by Linda Hutcheon, George Bowering, Dennis Lee, Stephen Scobie and Sheila Watson and contains a recent interview with Ondaatje and a lengthy bibliography. ... Read more

18. Bookclub in a Box Discusses Anil's Ghost, the Novel by Michael Ondaatje
by Marilyn Herbert
Paperback: 80 Pages (2005-11-29)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0973398426
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Ondaatje's novel, Anil's Ghost, presents readers with a human face to a complicated political event, the civil war in Sri Lanka, in the last century. Although a cease-fire was declared in 2002, this war continues in many ways. Ondaatje presents an intimate and detailed picture of the costs and pain of civil war as uncovered through the novel's main character, Anil, a Sri-Lankan born, American trained forensic anthropologist. Bookclub-in-a-Box will guide readers through the timely and timeless questions that Ondaatje poses about the nature of war, a topic which is extremely relevant to today's troubled world.
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19. Ragas of Longing: The Poetry of Michael Ondaatje
by Sam Solecki
Paperback: 256 Pages (2003-09-21)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$26.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802085431
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Editorial Review

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In Ragas of Longing, Sam Solecki offers the first book-length study of Michael Ondaatje's poetry and its place in his body of work. Relating the poetry to various poetic traditions from classical Tamil to postmodern, Solecki presents a chronological critical reading of Ondaatje's six volumes of poems. Among the study's concerns are the relationship between the poet's life and work, his poetic debts and development, his theory of poetry, and his central themes. Also present are close readings of Ondaatje's monographs on Leonard Cohen and Edwin Muir, the Scots' poet and critic.

Solecki suggests that Ondaatje's poetry can be seen as constituting a relatively unified personal canon that has evolved with each book building on its predecessor while simultaneously preparing the groundwork for the following volume. The author argues that Ondaatje's writing has a narrative unity and trajectory ? a figure in the carpet ? determined by crucial events in his life, especially the early breakup of his family and his subsequent exile from his father and place of birth. The result is a body of major poetry whose vision is post-Christian, postmodern and, despite an often humourous tone, fundamentally tragic.

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20. Michael Ondaatje: Word, Image, Imagination (New Canadian Criticism Series)
by Leslie Mundwiler
 Paperback: 160 Pages (1985-01)
list price: US$13.95
Isbn: 0889222169
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