Reviews for In the Year of the Cat
persevera chapter 3 . 4/6/2014
And then what happened? Did Ugarte charge the two younger men? If part of Signor Ferrari's arrangement with Ting Xia (an enchanting name, like the sound of a small bell) was to protect her, he certainly let her down.
I don't suppose you plan to update this but according to the other reviews, people who did read it found it fascinating.
I can just picture Ugarte in his whispery, tight voice explain to Rick or someone else at the cafe how it was that he was still in Casablanca. One of the themes of the movie, after all, is that no one is "from" there and the reasons for their being there are usually intriguing.
The mysterious Chinese woman and the two men in safari suits who finally caught up to her- what was their connection?
I know the muse can sometimes desert a writer in the middle of a project, but I wish you could be inspired to continue with this. It's so engrossing. I think you would get a lot of satisfaction from returning to it.
persevera chapter 2 . 3/16/2014
It's a shame more people haven't read this story. It's gorgeous.
Your descriptions and characters put one right in Casablanca.
Guillermo's fascination with the woman he had earlier seen in the marketplace is really touching. She would seem to be so far our of his league, but sometimes, when the feeling I'd strong enough, you just have to go for it.
Aww, poor guy. He was about to try to be so debonair and he ended up drawing unwanted attrition to himself with the clattering beads. Such a realistic touch.
[She slid the deck across the table so the cards could be cut. Hastily, the young man put his handover the young woman's with the familiarityof a husband witha wife.] I think it might have been a little too long since you said that the woman was sitting with an American-looking couple. I thought when the MSN placed his hand over the woman's that it was the mystery lady. You might want to mention the couple again before the young woman cuts the deck.
I love the image of Jakob dancing with the prostitutes, and the phrasing for it was great comic relief.
Why do I think that the poor man is about to fall into a trap? But maybe not. The line about his being used to being shorter than his dance partners suggests some sophistication and success with women, which some awkward men do manage.
Re: prior comments- this is an entire symphony played to an empty hall.
Edhla chapter 3 . 3/15/2014
Success! XD

I like how the Chinese mystery woman has now become a goddess to Guillermo... nice use of terminology there :) Again, lovely details, like the meeting of cultures and the fact that it's the 1930s and everyone smokes :p

The subtlety of your writing is just delicious - you never cram a point down anyone's throat. "She forced a smile" is way better than any moodiness or angst on Ting Xia's part, and the "exotic syllables" of her name do a million things at once, incorporating Guillermo's fascination with her and a culture where Chinese names are rarely heard and all sound amazingly exotic. It's also very cool and interesting that in spite of her Chinese heritage and Oxfordian English skills, she refers to herself as "Lulu"- a French nickname.

I'm impressed with how she is able to stand her ground against Guillermo basically being a bit creepy (okay, a lot creepy. But only a bit when you reflect the movies of the time...) She's not alarmed and she's not aggressive. I like her a lot.

I have no idea where you're going with this, but I feel like the whole bar knowing her, and knowing her as "Lulu", is going to end up being a little more ominous than Guillermo would like.

The stink of liquor, rotting vegetables and cat piss is so vividly and deftly done that I'm practically holding my breath here.

And speaking of holding my breath...

You left it on a cliffhanger?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *wails*

Really great to see unassuming, slightly obsessive Guillermo put his money where his mouth is when it comes to Ting Xia. He doesn't like the idea of bumping over two thugs "a foot taller and decade younger" than he is, but I have a feeling he's going to try. When you write the next chapter. Which will be soooooooon right?

This is awesome. I can't believe I'm this invested after three chapters. Brilliant. XD
Edhla chapter 2 . 3/14/2014
I absolutely love your opening description of the Blue Parrot, Djinni. Long and boring story I'll try to make short: I have "memories" of the mirrors and palms and things from my childhood that cannot possibly have happened to me (for a start, those memories are in monochrome :p) and which I suspect may be a child's disjointed impression of the actual film. This resonated with me, is what I'm saying.

I like the nod to the fact that not all Morroccan taverns adhered to "Moslem" principles (a wonderfully archaic and realistic word there, before "Muslim" became pretty much universal. Again, very much helps set the scene.)

This is actually starting to remind me of Paul Bowles' 'The Sheltering Sky.' Not necessary in content and not in plot, but the expert way you depict East meeting West during that rocky time period.

And as someone who is good friends with a professional belly dancer, thank you for pointing it out as folk art, not low-level stripping, because it's really, really not :D

And of course, Mystery Woman returns. She is so well described, as if she's a quiet little Chinese ghost only Guillermo can see.

Oh, the details. Now, in a place full of European ex-pats, Guillermo has no idea what language to address a Chinese lady in. And it turns out... perfect Oxfordian English, and a bit of dry wit to boot. And, and! "Because I cheat." Love her.

The dancing and her last line are both a sublime and canonically-sound way of ending this little scene. I love this, Djinni. And now I am super sad because I have only one chapter left to review and then it'll be overrrrrrrrr :( xx
Edhla chapter 1 . 3/11/2014
SO I know you're not really looking for reviews on this one so consider it an epic trio of freebies, but I've been dying to RR this one for about a year. :D It's been a while since I saw the film, but I do love it, and I'm fascinated by your premise and even the title.

An intriguing beginning, since Guillermo is right... I would not expect to see a Chinese woman in Morroco in 1938. This alone is a fantastic lead in and makes me anxious to find out why she's there and what her story is. The mention of Parisian coiffures is excellent and places the setting and time perfectly, as well as contrasting the Chinese woman's long black hair. Great attention to colour in general there, with navy, orange, etc. Vivid without being distracting.

"his friend insisted" - since you've already described Jakob as 'his friend', I'd consider just using his name there.

I love your portrayal of Jakob the great big buffoon - the fez and lizard humour attempt genuinely did make me smile :) That he plays along too is lovely, and all a bit bittersweet when you recall how disenfranchised both men are.

Although it's difficult when the POV character doesn't know anyone's name, I'd reconsider "the blond" and "the redhead" if there's a way around it..s as a reader, I find hair colour designations confusing.

The old "POV character looks at self in mirror" is something done often, but here you get away with it because your description is mesmerising. I love that the mystery woman is still threaded through the chapter, and the faint note of menace at the end... Casablanca is better than Europe for a Jew just then, but it's not paradise. Lovely work. Stay tuned for more reviews xx
persevera chapter 1 . 3/8/2014
Excellent characterisations from the beginning.
Guillermo is a small, not self-confident middle-aged man searching for...something that he didn't have in his life previously.
His friend Jakob seems to be the opposite- friendly and engaging, unassuming and not bothered about the things that Guillermo frets over, such as wearing a natty suit to dinner.
Guillermo didn't like it that the woman he found so interesting was apparently being chased by the two young men, but he didn't do anything about it.
Of course I've seen Casablanca but Ugarte never really interested me so I don't remember much of his story. Wiki reminded me though why papers are so important to him and and what great foreshadowing the last lines are.
Very curious about the woman in the blue trench coat. Is she some kind of courier and if so, for whom?
Are the men chasing her Nazis?
Are Jews still able to travel at that time or is Guillermo hiding that fact about himself?
I have more questions but that's more than enough to bring me back to this story.
Guest chapter 1 . 2/15/2014
Such an interesting angle to take on the story-hope you'll continue.
The Cheshire Cheese chapter 1 . 11/3/2013
Seems I already reviewed chapters 2 and 3, so I'll post this review for chapter 1.

After re-reading this story, I've got to say that if you update, I'll be there. I'm liking this so far. I think Ugarte's persona here is pretty believable; he obviously hasn't evolved into the scumbag we love from the movie yet, but this poor naive newcomer is a believable back-story for him.

I notice that other reviewers have pointed out historical or cultural inaccuracies in your story. If they're right, then those inaccuracies might be a good thing. The movie "Casablanca" got at least a few facts wrong (I recall reading somewhere that the Nazis never actually set foot in the city). And film makers of the 1940s, in general, didn't seem as concerned with getting the facts right as film makers nowadays. What's not believable for the real world may still be believable for the world of "Casablanca."

Anyway, looking forward to updates.
Lady Lisette chapter 1 . 10/19/2013
Very good! This fanfic is kind of an answer to my old prayer to know more about Peter Lorre's character in the movie (I am a BIG fan of Mr. Lorre!) I think this story will turn out to be very fascinating and exciting!
Whammytap chapter 3 . 6/12/2013
I love this story so far! Is there going to be more? You can't leave me hanging like that! Ugarte is such a great character; I really enjoyed that someone took the time to give him more of a backstory. I caught a couple of anachronisms, but that's the only criticism I can make; your writing style is impeccable and interesting to boot.
demonbarber14 chapter 3 . 3/10/2013
This is a great story! I really love how you keep Ugarte in character while making him a leading man in his own right. It's also really great how you are able to get his emotions towards Ting Xia across so well that it's completely understandable to us why he is pretty much in love with her after only three chapters. I hope the very intense cliffhanger will be resolved soon!
The Cheshire Cheese chapter 3 . 2/21/2013
Write mooooore!
The Wild Wild Whovian chapter 3 . 2/20/2013
Ahhhhh... cliffhanger!

Well, I'm hooked!
The Wild Wild Whovian chapter 2 . 2/20/2013
Lovely chapter, very atmospheric.
The Wild Wild Whovian chapter 1 . 2/20/2013
Ah, Peter Lorre! I can hear his voice in his lines. :-)
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