Tag: Keri Hulme

Monthly Review – November 2013

Posted November 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 5 Comments

the bone peopleNow that November is coming to an end, I feel like I need to breathe a sigh of relief. I feel like I’ve been in a major reading slump during this month, but on reflecting it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought, there was a period of a few weeks where I struggled to finish anything but in the end I was able to manage nine books; not too bad.

Let’s have a quick look back at the month for the book club on Goodreads and our book of the month, The Bone People.  I went into this book not knowing anything about it, I never heard of it and glad I was able to read it. This was a controversial and confronting book and as readers of this blog know, I do enjoy a confronting read. If you missed the conversation about this book, head over on to Goodreads, there is still time to join in.

Next month we are in for a mystery, when we look at And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I’ve not read any Christie so this will be a new experience for me. I hope it is a nice quick and enjoyable book to read over the holiday period. If you’re not aware, the book discussion and everything else will be happening over on the Goodreads forums, so feel free to join in there.

As I said before, this was a difficult reading month for me; not that I didn’t like the books, just an annoying slump. Check out my thoughts about reading slumps in this post if you are interested.  I had a great month in October; I did enjoy some interesting non-fiction books this month. Highlights include The Know-It-All and Perv. As for fiction, I think I did better with the lighter books, like Moon Over Soho and The Martian. How did you go this month?

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The Bone People by Keri Hulme

Posted November 29, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

The Bone People by Keri HulmeTitle: The Bone People (Goodreads)
Author: Keri Hulme
Published: Pan Macmillan, 1984
Pages: 540
Genres: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

It was a gloomy and stormy night, a mute 7 year old boy, Simon shows at the hermit Kerewin’s tower. The next morning his adoptive father, Joe came to pick him up. Because Simon couldn’t explain his motives, Kerewin has to rely on Joe to tell their curious story. A storm earlier that year sees Simon wash up on a beach with no memory or clue of his identity. Joe and his now deceased wife took the troubled boy in, but the traumatised boy is just too hard to cope with.

The Maori people use bones as tools and for art; they believe the notion of a person’s core is found within their skeleton. The bones are a common theme throughout the novel; each character is emotionally stripped to the bone. It is then we truly see what type of person these characters are. This novel is full of violence and twisted emotions, making this a tense and draining book to read.

Something I really liked about this novel was Keri Hulme’s use of silence as tool that drives the plot. Simon is unable to speak, but we find out this is more of a psychological rather than a physical restriction, as he can sing. I think he is afraid to say the wrong thing, a defensive strategy. He uses notes as a primary form of communication, this way there are no expressions of his emotion and he can protect himself. The book goes a little further, Simon is also silent about the pain, when he is beaten he doesn’t make a sound. Kerewin also uses silence in a similar way, she built her tower to hide away and be a recluse; no one can hurt her if she is in solitude. She is always an artist suffering from a creative silence; not being able to let her creative side flow through her art. You can read this book and find many examples of silences within it; very effective and I spent a lot of time trying to work out the meaning behind it.

Each character has been damaged that their defensive mechanisms make it hard to open up to others. Yet the three main characters spend the entire novel trying to work out what love is and how to find it. They are all isolated themselves from the world; Kerewin in her tower, Simon with his inability to steak and Joe with his grief. There is just so many themes you could look at in The Bone People, the idea of a utopian society uniting Maori and Western culture, Post-colonial discourse, cultural illness, violence as a way to communicate and you can just go on and on.

This is not the easiest book to read, it is confronting and tense. The Bone People left me with mixed emotions; on one hand the writing was wonderful and left me thinking about so many issues but on the other hand the violence just left me with a sick feeling. I often try to leave my emotional opinion of the subject matter out of analysing a book but I just can’t help it with this one. In the end, I think the book has something important to say and worth reading.