Review: Keri Hulme’s “The Bone People”

by writereaderly

keri hulme the bone peopleThis book was frankly annoying after a while. Quirky lost-soul Kerewin Holmes (remind anyone of the author’s name?) meets Joseph, Maori adoptive father of mute, mystery lost-boy Simon P. Gillayley. The three bond. Many beatings occur. Much Maori soul-work is done. A surfeit of splendid convoluted language is used. Love is found and held in the tricephalous being. Why oh why did it go on for so long?

It was on Bookclub following a Clubber’s trip to NZ and associated NZ author recommendations (possibly even mine), and I was delighted – I’d thought this a splendid book when I read it, oh, a dozen years ago. Most unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my awe-struck memory. Joseph is overwritten and underfilled. Kerewin is complete, and her character development interesting, even though she is somewhat improbable. The Maori lore and language is fascinating to begin with, then too dense for the non-NZ reader as the book drags into its fifth century of pages. The violence is brutal and too glibly excused. The whole is simply too convoluted and unnecessarily lengthy, and my enjoyment of it sadly too brief. It did, however, provide much fodder for enraged discussion come next bookclub meeting.

Where it came from: Library via Bookclub
Time and manner of reading:
Two weeks’ worth of increasingly impatient snippets
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
New Zealanders
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens