Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Kevin and The Bone People

Hello everyone

Feel like I've been away a while, but things have been a bit hectic one way or another. Anyway, with the decision to shunt Kevin into April I'm ahead of the game for once. (I had to skip Memoirs of a Geisha, Bel Canto and When I Lived in Modern Times to get there, but not to worry. Will hopefully get to them one day.)

I've wanted to read We need to talk about Kevin for a while now - the subject matter being intriguing enough to overcome my usual hatred of the letter format. (I have been known to skip letters shoehorned into novels - I think they tend to be a clumsy mechanism of conveying information when the author can't be bothered writing decent dialogue). I think it's an excellent book - hooked me in straight away and (the real trick) expertly peeled the layers back so I not only stayed hooked but actually found part of myself liking the lad. The mother's tracking of the years leading up to Thursday showed a real understanding of the undercurrents that exist in families - a subject which fascinates me. (The undercurrents are there in all families to a greater or lesser extent - we might not go around killing our classmates but we all know how to play our nearest and dearest). My only criticism is some of the portrayal of Franklin. He came across pretty 2D and there were moments where it seemed a bit unlikely that he would have actually excused his son's behaviour. Having said that, I liked the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Kevin's character with his parents and the way that fed Franklin's blindness. Oh, good ending too.

And onto The Bone People (by Keri Hulme) which I thoroughly recommend. Set in New Zealand, it's basically the tale of how the life of a reclusive artist (Kerewin Holmes - and I thought I was bad at thinking up character names) is changed when she is adopted by a mute kid (in the way a cat will adopt you). It's a hard book to describe, but it's one of those that stays with you - magical use of language (if a bit trippy in parts (especially the preface)) and utterly addicitive. Emily introduced me, for which I am grateful. I did find it bleak at times - depressing even - and I was, for once, glad of a hopeful ending.

So whilst I've been a bit slow on the reading front in recent times I have had the pleasure of two wonderful books on the trot.

As for funny books I think there's plenty, but would agree it's a very personal thing. I find myself reaching for Bill Bryson's Notes from a small island when I want a guaranteed laugh, or Dilbert (to remind myself the FSS isn't the only ridiculous company in the world), but the novels are out there too - I've not read P.G. Wodehouse for years, but the Wooster books always used to make me laugh out loud. Must try them again.