Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Bone People - Keri Hulme

The Bone People, published in 1984, is an unusual story of love. The differences are in the way of telling, the subject matter, and the form of love that the story writes on. This is in no way a romance; it is rather filled with violence, fear, and twisted emotions. At the story's core, however, are three people who struggle very hard to figure out what love is and how to find it. The book is divided into two major sections, the first involving the characters interacting together, and the second half involving their individual travels.

In the first half, 8-year-old Simon shows up at the hermit Kerewin’s tower on a gloomy and stormy night. Simon is mute and thus is unable to explain his motives. When Simon’s adoptive father Joe arrives to pick him up in the morning, Kerewin get to know their curious story. Simon was found washed up on the beach years earlier with no memory and very few clues as to his identity. Joe and his wife Hana take in Simon, despite his mysterious background, and attempt to raise him. However, subsequently both Hana and their infant son die of flu, forcing Joe to bring the wild boy Simon up on his own.

At the same time Kerewin finds herself developing a relationship with the two the boy and the father, becoming more connected to their live circumstances and stories. Gradually it becomes clear that Simon is a severely traumatised orphan, whose strange behaviours Joe is unable to cope with. Kerewin eventually figures out that, in spite of a constant and intense love between them, Joe is physically abusing Simon.

Following a catalyst event, the three are driven violently apart. Simon witnesses a violent death and seeks Kerewin out, but she is angry with him for stealing some of her possessions and will not listen. Simon reacts by kicking in the side of her guitar, a much prized gift from her estranged family, whereupon she yells at him to disappear. After that he goes to the town and breaks a series of shop windows, and when he is returned home by the police, Joe beats him half to death. However, Simon has concealed a piece of glass and stabs his father with it. This results in hospitalisation for both.

In the second half of the novel, Joe is being sent to prison for child abuse, Simon is still in the hospital, and Kerewin is seriously and inexplicably ill. Consequently Simon's wardship is being taken from Joe. Simon is sent to a children's home, and Kerewin deconstructs her tower and leaves with the expectation to be dead within the year. All three have to overcome life-changing happenings, strongly interlaced with Maori mythology and legend.

Kerewin adopts Simon, to keep him close to her and Joe, who is out of prison again. Meanwhile Joe is able to contact Kerewin's family and bring them back for reconciliation. The final scene of the novel depicts the reunion of the three main characters Kerewin, Simon and Joe, who are all celebrating some unnamed occasion back at the beach where Kerewin has rebuilt her home, this time in the shape of a shell with many twists. This house makes Joe laugh as he finds all their family in various states of rest in the shell as he makes his way to the beach. It is not certain that Joe, Kerewin, and Simon will remain together, but they are together on the beach at the end of the book.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Passion According to G.H. - Clarice Lispector

When the book opens, G.H., a well-to-do resident of a Rio de Jenairo penthouse, is remembering what happened to her the previous day, when she decided to clean out the room of the maid who has just left her service.

“Before I entered the room, what was I?” G.H. asks. “I was what others had always seen me be, and that was the way I knew myself.”

In the maid’s room, G.H. expects chaos. Instead, to her shock, she finds a desert, “an entirely clean and vibrating room as in an insane asylum from which dangerous objects have been removed.”

The room was the opposite of what I had created in my house, the opposite of the soft beauty that came from my talent for arrangement, my talent for living, the opposite of my serene irony, of my sweet and exempt irony: it was a violation of my quotation marks, of the quotation marks that made me a citation of myself. The room was the portrait of an empty stomach.

Only one thing disturbs the room's perfect order: black carbon scratches on the dry white wall, outlines of a man, a woman, and a dog. Pondering the inscrutable drawing, she realizes that the black maid, whose name she has forgotten, and whose face she has trouble calling to mind, had hated her. Overwhelmed by anger, she opens the door to the wardrobe. Terrified by the cockroach she sees emerging, she slams the door shut, severing the cockroach in its center and sees the still-living animal's entrails begin to ooze out.

G.H. is appalled by the sight, but she is trapped in the room by the irresistible fascination of the dying insect. She wants to scream, but she knows it is already too late: "If I raised the alarm at being alive, voiceless and hard they would drag me away since they drag away those who depart the possible world, the exceptional being is dragged away, the screaming being.”

Staring at the insect, her human personality begins to break down; finally, at the height of her mystic crisis, she famously takes the matter oozing from the cockroach—the fundamental, anonymous matter of the universe, which she shares with the roach—and puts it in her mouth.

from Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia