Title: In The Skin Of A Lion
Author: Micheal Ondaatje
Publisher: Penguin Books
Mixing the real geography of Toronto with
the personal mythologies of a series of
surreal characters, "In The Skin Of
A Lion" is an interwoven series of
tales gathered roughly around the main character,
Patrick Lewis. The son of a dynamite expert,
Patrick leaves the Ontario farm of his birth
to move to Toronto; there he takes part
in the physical and spiritual creation of
I have read this book twice. I wasn't particulalry
moved the first time I read it, but everyone
I know loves the book so much I though I
would give it a second chance.
Not liking this book and being a resident
of Toronto (the novel's primary setting)
is fairly close to sacrilege, even more
so when the Dean of your former faculty
is mentioned in the acknowledgements.
"In The Skin Of A Lion" is certainly
a beautiful piece of writing, reading it
feels like watching a silent film; scenes
are sculpted rather than described. Dialogue
is almost non-existent, and when present
seems to reveal little.
Though beautiful to read, the story is
somehow unfulfilling. The love story seems
incomplete; it is too much a fairytale.
The story touches on the class struggle
between those who envision the city and
those who physically create it, but fails
to provide any real insight.
One theme that does become apparent is
how much our lives are defined by the people
who surround us, and how we are shaped by
our interactions with people.
This book is for those who enjoy reading
for reading's sake; it is filled with touching
moments and humorous anecdotes, but on the
whole feels incomplete. This is clearly
the work of a poet, a collection of images
rather than a complete novel.