Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories

Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories

by Boris Vian
     
 

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A cocky black cat that drinks cognac and can't stay out of holes, a hyperactive plumber who pulls out all the stops, an expiring jazzman who sells his sweat, a green soldier who moves into a terribly serious position - these are a few of the outrageous and poignant creations of Boris Vian in Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories. Julia Older makes available for the… See more details below

Overview

A cocky black cat that drinks cognac and can't stay out of holes, a hyperactive plumber who pulls out all the stops, an expiring jazzman who sells his sweat, a green soldier who moves into a terribly serious position - these are a few of the outrageous and poignant creations of Boris Vian in Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories. Julia Older makes available for the first time in English this collection of his short fiction, which was originally published as Les Fourmis in 1949. It is a delightful introduction to the work of a much-admired French poet, playwright, and song-writer whose celebrity has continued to grow since his untimely death in 1959. These early stories, written in 1944 and 1945, reveal that Vian was already a master of black humor, wordplay, elegant understatement, and leaps of fancy. "Blues for a Black Cat," bubbling with Vian's sense of mischief and evocative of his love for jazz, shows the seamier side of postwar Parisian night life. "The Plumber" is the nightmare of every citizen who has been incommoded by expensive repairmen. "Pins and Needles" conveys Vian's daring opposition to World War II (his song "The Deserter" later would be censored by the government for inciting sentiment against the French-Algerian conflict). The other stories - "Cancer," "Dead Fish," "Journey to Khonostrov," "Blue Fairy Tale," "Fog," "Good Students," and "One-Way Street" - are marked by the same verbal Niagaras, zany sexual encounters, and absurd situations. But, as Julia Older points out, parody only heightens the masked terrors of war, poverty, ill health, and unemployment that hound the bizarre protagonists of Vian's fablelike narratives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ten avant-garde fables of serious whimsy, ushered in by Older's useful introduction, bibliography and discography, are culled here from Vian's rich output. During his brief life (1920-59) author and musician Vian wrote novels, plays, poetry, songs and libretti, contributed essays to Jazz Hot in Paris, and translated American works (by Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain) that shaped his own writing. Playful and tough, fresh and zany, Vian generally speaks from a moral stance. ``Pins and Needles'' treats the horrifying absurdity of war and the Allied rescue of 1944 with wacky grisliness. In ``The Plumber'' a fast-talking workman browbeats a tenant and wreaks chaos with needless repairs. The title of ``Good Students'' refers to young police cadets who study the rule book on how to control and brutalize an innocent populace. ``Blue Fairy Tale'' is a tale of betrayal during a motor jaunt, a format evoking the fictional popularity of the automobile in the period. The title story features an articulate, garrulous cat stuck in a sewer, while drinkers turn out of a nearby bar to save it. The collection displays Vian's range from gallows humor to verbal fireworks, and happily serves to give visibility to this important writer. (July)
Manoa
"Ultimately, Blues for a Black Cat is a collection of moral fables, albeit fables told in a cynical, mocking voice and set in a skewed version of the real world. Under the surface absurdity and verbal play, they offer serious indictments of human weakness and pretensions. Further, they reveal the spiritual emptiness just beneath our civilized façade. Vian's blues are not only for a black cat, but for a society without meaning."— Manoa
Boston Globe
"[Blues for a Black Cat] brings back the nimble Vian in a collection of his short fiction, initially published as Les Fourmis in 1949. The work has the unmistakable flavor of the time and place, Claude Abadie's jazz band, the coded and absurdist messages of rebellion, the wistful fables, verbal riffs and goofy anarchic encounters; the mise-en-scene includes an expiring jazzman who sells his sweat, a cat with a British accent and a piano that mixes a cocktail when "Mood Indigo" is played."—Boston Globe

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803296091
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
03/28/2001
Series:
French Modernist Library Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
118
Sales rank:
1,371,386
Product dimensions:
4.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

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