Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Last Black Cat by Eugene Trivizas [May Contain *minor spoilers* from the first chapters of the book]

The Last Black Cat by Eugene Trivizas
(Greek Edition)

Published: 2001
Edition: Original with Illustrations
Format: Paperback, 359 pages
Illustration: Stephen West
Publisher: Ellinika Grammata (please note that this publisher as of 2006 is now no longer in business)
Genre: 10+


Summary – amazon.co.uk (from the English Edition paperback)
“Our hero, the black cat, has only ever worried about stealing fish and wooing the beautiful Graziella, until the fateful night when he witnesses a fellow cat being kidnapped. It's just the beginning; horrific abductions of cats are taking place all over the island, and soon, not only black cats, but all cats are being pursued. A sinister society has corrupted the government and plans to make a fortune selling mousetraps once the cats are gone. They come close to succeeding and it looks as though only one black cat remains. But with help from his friends, the last black cat foils the horrible plan - and finds there's last female black cat still around too!

For this evening, a raid on the “Red Kokovios” has been set. No, this is not the code name of some insignificant target in the development of the war. Of insignificant importance it is of course, but for another reason. The "Red Kokovios" is a fish tavern on an island. In it, and most notably in its pans, two black cats are about to launch an attack to sate their hunger. A premeditated crime, as you gathered . . . the perpetrator -‘Kopsonouris’, otherwise known as ‘Gatokomanto’ and ‘Tiganakias’ who is also the hero/narrator of Eugene Trivizas’ book “The Last Black Cat”. Psst, in case you missed the point, u-huh, yeah, it’s you I’m talking to, the lil’ rascal reading this here text . . . you know regarding the book you’re most probably holding in your hands as we speak. You know . . . that there with the lil’ trusty black kitten on the cover!... But anyway I digress, back to our story; as I was saying...
“My belly is purring impatiently, but I reassure it, reaffirming the oath that I will soon make it happy. Despite this, it continues to purr because it rarely trusts my culinary promises, which most often prove to be illusory.
Suddenly something unexpected happens. Under an overturned fishing boat another, unknown to me, black cat, appears who has apparently also been drawn by the tingling and irresistible scent of mullet.
- Whoa! There we go! I hope our cat-ster doesn't ruin everything! I think.
I watch him approach with caution in the direction of the tavern, casting stealthy glances all round. The rest happened so suddenly, so swiftly, that afterwards I wondered whether I really saw it happen. A flatbed tricycle motorcycle with a cart on the side coming at full speed from the end of the road, cutting speed, braking suddenly, two guys, one short with a cap and a tall one with a moustache, jump, grab the cat smartly with a net, give him a couple of kicks and bundle him in a sack. The kidnappers throw their prey in the back of the cart, jump back on the bike and leave so fast that no trace is left.[...]” (pp. 17-18 of the Greek Edition)
(Translation by Maria B.)
That was it. Hunger went out the window and Kopsonouris will probably have to do the raid on the goodies of the fish tavern on his own. The criminal act of the short man with the cap and the tall man with the moustache is definitely connected with a great mystery, which must be solved.
Step one: Follow the suspects. Whoa boy, now we're in trouble . . . you try and chase a motorcycle on foot and on an empty stomach too. But “In need even Gods can be convinced...” even cats believe that... Oh and let’s not forget that in addition to solving the mystery he has to help the poor black cat who's now in the hands of the kidnappers too. This, in case you’re wondering means that our heroes are in a heap-load of cat-mess…
But how can four hungry legs accomplish -even if it's an emergency- the un-accomplishable; to catch up to the wheels of a motorcycle? Well they can't, can they? And so the bike is lost in the night, but still maybe not all hope is lost in finding the unlawful troglodytes. It appears in their haste they dropped something on the street . . . a metal pin, one of those people tend to wear on the lapel. So this pin, with the green four-leaf clover in a silver horseshoe, is the clue that follows the connection (the kidnapping of an unknown black alley cat) that will help our cat-friend on his quest.
It will help him, but not immediately... On the one hand the raid on the fish tavern must happen -the stomach is not kidding anymore, the hunger pangs are really setting in at this point- and on the other hand he has to go to his rendezvous with Graziella too! Yes! How did you know? Graziella is also a cat, ah but what cat... “An exquisite Angora cat”, it’s one thing to tell you quite another to see it. A female that's pure sin... the eyes, the hair, her tail are every male kitty’s heaven on earth. With this divine feline our friend has fallen madly in love, but luckily for him the feeling is mutual, at least at the beginning of our story.
What happens next? A Lot of things! Too many actually, which you will absolutely not hear from me. I will not reveal a single thing, not even an itty bitty nugget of the rest of the story -no, no don't pressure me into saying that all black cats on the island are in mortal danger, and neither will I mention the names of any of the other heroes . . . like Rasminos the Angora cat, or Ebony the black cat that will play an important role in the plot of "The Last Black Cat" by Eugene Trivizas...
I don't imagine I need to introduce you to Eugene Trivizas. Over one hundred works of his have been published, read and passionately loved by both young and old readers. He's the definitive Modern Greek storyteller and it's a title he’s earned with his sword, or more accurately with his pen, which truly does great things on paper. It creates heroes, stories and words that are adored by readers of all ages and occupy a place in their hearts and minds.
In my opinion "The Last Black Cat" is one of the most excellent examples to flow from this talented pen. The plot is fantastic and excites the imagination from the first pages holding our interest unrelenting and intense until the last word in the last paragraph, of the last page. His heroes are the stuff which fairytales are made of -and what kind of fairytale teller would he be if indeed they weren't, and have the power to teach us something. Their actions, either an example to avoid or one to follow give the book a moralistic nature.
Eugene Trivizas, in this excellent creation of his, speaks to us about racism and the hard way in which those in power stand against the weak and the small, that is, against the very people whom they have a duty to stand next to as helpers and have them under their protection. But it also speaks to us of something more . . . about what lies behind some innocent and seemingly unconnected acts of those with that power . . . it tells us about the profit and the money that has become the purpose of modern society..
But still it doesn't fail to show us that even in the densest shadows, where a black cat would pass unnoticed, there is still hope for light to come back and prevail! In the book a black cat is the harbinger of hope. Nowadays we have to look for it... After all what kind of ‘cats’ would we be indeed if we did not question everything and did not constantly try to find the truth on our own, the real truth so we can create our own impressions and get all the facts. Do we really want to be blind, to be as tame as lambs led to slaughter? Because if we don't question everything and investigate everything for ourselves that is exactly what we'll be/become.
The last black cat becomes a true hero, a victor in the unequal fight with people. He had great fighting spirit, composure and patience. The final victory is due to the heuristic power of the mind and the longing for life and law. It remains faithful to his purpose and strives with all his soul and strength, to save himself and his tribe. He teaches us that the great cause eventually takes place only when people remain loyal to it and have the strength and mental stamina to chase it to the end.
As a closing note I just have to say how gorgeous the illustrations are, they are so exquisite in their simplicity I simply fell in love with them. They’re beautiful works of art that compliment the text perfectly. J

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Reviews, Stories and Articles by Maria Bitar are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Dana said...

This sounds like a great read. I can't believe I've never heard of the author! My bad! New follower here.

Maria said...

Dana no worries. I grew up on this man's books and I absolutely love them this is his first cross-over so to speak book. He's a children's author and I would strongly recommend him to anyone! They are truly the best books for a child to grow up on right up there along fairy-tales and the Worst Witch and Lemony Snicket books etc.. And they're an amazingly enjoyable read even for adults (if you grew up on them they come together with lovely memories too which is great!). :D