This is a reprint of an account of the visit made to the United States in 1941 by Brazil’s most successful popular novelist. The fact that the publishers obviously expect a profitable sale of this reissue in itself gives evidence of certain perennial qualities in the book. Veríssimo’s style, both easy and suavely provocative, make it for a Brazilian still pleasant to read, and though much of his information is now out-of-date (e.g., tourists may no longer enter the White House at will, and a number of the film stars he mentions are no longer with us), much of it is still sound as a guide for Brazilian sightseers. For a native of the United States it remains an interesting social document, a vivid glimpse of the United States on the eve of World War II as seen by a visitor who was both objective (as a Latin) and sympathetic (as an inhabitant of the New World.)

Veríssimo states that his title has no special significance, that it merely memorializes a black cat whom he observed from a train crossing a field of snow. Yet the fact remains that it captures in a sense some of his own experience, as a man of the subtropics and of a Latin culture, abroad in an alien world. No great philosophical depths are plumbed, though he makes several penetrating brief comments on the American scene. He notes, with sensitive skill, his special reactions as a Brazilian: his first experience of snow, his resentment at the universal assumption that Spanish is his native tongue. He is at pains not only to record his pleasure in consorting with various new and old friends, and especially American writers, but also the charm of the more casual contacts that every traveler makes in a foreign land.