Max and the Cats: A Novel

Front Cover
Ballantine Books, 1990 - Brazil - 99 pages
1 Review
Cloaked among the leopard skins in his father's Berlin fur shop, young Max Schmidt grows up dreaming of adventure and intrigue. When as a young man an illicit affair gets him denounced to the Nazi secret police, Max barely escapes on a freighter -- only to founder off the coast of South America. Trapped in a dinghy with a hungry jaguar, he believes his days are numbered -- until he washes ashore on the coast of Brazil prepared to begin life anew. But just when he thinks he has left behind the cats of his youth, another appears...and Max realizes the time has come to take his destiny into his own hands. Book jacket.

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All the way from being on a boat with a jaguar to having an onša, or a Brazilian panther in his backyard, Max has a number of adventures. This is an outstanding novel by Moacyr Scliar about a nineteen year-old living in Germany in times of Nazi rule. The book narrates each of the three encounters in Max’s life with a variety of felines and his feelings toward each of them.
Max was the son of a furrier, he loved the skins in his father’s store but he was afraid of a Bengal tiger lying on the top of a wardrobe; he later lets the reader know he fears all big felines. When he is caught having an affair with a woman who was married to a Nazi soldier, he has no other option but to flee the country. After being late at the and missing his boat to Brazil, Max felt the only alternative was to spend all his money to get a ticket for the next ship.
The streak of awful events would not end at this point. Ironically, Max finds himself in a lifeboat witha jaguar after surviving a shipwreck. Somehow he is able to survive and reaches his dream land-Brazil.Being here, Max settles and starts over a new life. Just as soon as everything seemed to be going out perfectly, and the way he wanted it to, the main character finds himself in the middle of a conflict, one for which he will try to take revenge.
Max and the Cats is not a very long novel; it barely makes it past a hundred pages. However, there is a number of different situations which makes it much more interesting to read. The flow of the plot is really continuous and it does waste time expressingminor and unimportant events. Since it has a quick pace, it does not bore the reader and instead keeps him hooked with the eagerness of finding out what will happen next.
This novel uses a language that is not suitable for everyone. Although just in rare occasions, some inappropriate words are used. However, speaking about the vocabulary, the book also uses challenging and descriptive words, which will help the reader in much more ways than entertainment by enriching its vocabulary. I would definitely recommend this bookto others because it was entertaining and enjoyable. It shouldn’t take more than a week to read and one would rarely like to drop it, specially if the reader is really hooked into the book. If you are looking for advice, take this: read Max and the Cats, you won’t regret it.


on the Wardrobe
The Jaguar
on the Hilltop

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About the author (1990)

Scliar was born and still lives in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. A physician since 1962, Scliar started his career as a writer telling stories about his experiences as a young doctor. He is a prolific writer and has produced more than 10 novels, many of which have won literary prizes. He studied at the Yiddish College in Porto Alegre and went to a Catholic school for his secondary studies. This childhood experience provided the imaginative background for many of his stories. His writing has much of what he called "his Jewishness": "As much as possible I live in peace with my Jewishness. I have extracted from it what it has of the best: fantasy, ethical substance, and above all, humor" (Escrever & Viver). The Centaur in the Garden is a story about a centaur who is Brazilian and Jewish, a fantasy of the half-horse, half-human child who grows into adulthood in search of his identity.

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