In Blues for a black cat, Boris Vian's literary genius shines with rare intensity impossible to find in modern works. While I read a few of Vian's works in the past, revisiting this book was the perfect escape from the mundane world of today's literature. Without getting into any plot or revealing too much about this compilation of short stories, Blues for a black cat, is an insane, entertaining, humorous, profound, powerful avant-garde literary rarity. Vian's style remains unique decades after the original publication, and while seemingly incoherent on the surface, it is intentionally so. Vian plays with words and objects, breathing life into them, making them take on a life vastly different from what we are used to, changing directions and staying on track at the same time, and inserting a deep incision in to our consciousness. Through humor, Vian touches upon uneasy topics -- shallow interpersonal communications, lack of spirituality, empty lives... and above all, our humanity. Humanity, with its faults, seems to be a common thread throughout Vian's works (at least those I had the chance to read). The list of subjects in this book will be too long, but one story will forever remain, in my opinion, one of the best short stories written about WWII (or any war for that matter) -- Pins and Needles.
As Vian himself says: "Routine dulls impressions." Readers be assured, there is nothing dull about his writing. His prose is full of gems, his ramblings are amusing, his literary rebellion is unrepeated by the generations of writers that came after him. While not pure surrealism, his approach to reality, to make the most mundane breathe with a new life, is fascinating.
Julia Older's excellent translation finally brings this important piece to the English speaking audiences.
Blues for a black cat would be a great sample of Vian's work for those not familiar with this author.