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Gnarled Bones and Other Stories Paperback – November 5, 2016
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"... utterly riveting... richly written and engaging..." Kelly Schweizer, author and blogger of This Northern Gal
About the Author
Tam May was born in Israel but grew up in the United States. She earned her college degree in English Literature and Linguistics in Israel before returning to the States, where she currently resides. She started writing when she was 14 and writing became her voice. She writes psychological fiction that explores emotional realities informed by personal and collective past experience, dreams, emotions, fantasies, nightmares, imagination, and self-analysis.
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Top customer reviews
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May’s language is rich and nuanced. Some of the pet phrases I particularly liked include “learned to watch for the beginning of the pose” in Mother of Mischief, as the title character cared for her hoodlum little brothers; “Mickey found a list of one hundred greatest books when he was fourteen and was reading through it ever since.” That tells a fine tale of the character. Places in California like the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park came to mind when mentioned, although the lack of details would render the reference meaningless to someone who hadn’t been there. Likewise, Muir Park, the frame for Gnarled Bones. The longest and most developed story is Broken Bow, the violinist trying not to descend into dementia with his aged father. The narrator got on the train, and breathed the “steam of progress, blood, and freedom,” which helped set the scene and pace. The title piece was a bit of oddity, a sort of Poe-esque quality of people you think are probably out there, but whom you hope never to meet, about siblings so close they “stared at each other” through their separating bedroom wall after their parents died. A sister’s kiss is sure to be the cure for the brother’s illness; a kiss on his cheek would bring him back to her.
The short collection is for those who like a tiptoe trip through a back alley. It reminded me of watching the evening street people from the fourth floor of a downtown San Francisco Hotel, a microcosm of the lost and lonely seeking purpose and fulfillment.
The reader is left with a sense of loneliness and isolation, depicted by the author’s use of metaphoric symbolism, cementing the overall feeling of woe and gloom. The one exception to this is Bracelets, which has a positive tone and shows a sense of supportive togetherness among the group of friends. I had difficulty connecting with any of the characters in Gnarled Bones, the lack of connection to present day, and with no specific time period to relate, it made for a bit of a stumble –socially and psychologically. If you love psychological stories, then give this one a try.
First thing first, Tam May has an intriguing voice at times as an author - but each of these stories feels a little undercooked, often coming to an end before they have really gotten started.
There are some delightful phrases in here - such as "He picked his words carefully as if they were ripe apples off a tree, aware of the sadness they left behind", but at other points there is a bit too much telling rather than showing, such as with the lengthy start to the title story, detailing the history of children Em and Denny before getting to the substance of the story.
Despite that, I look forward to more from Tam May. This is her first collection, and so it feels in part like she's clearing her throat, getting ready to speak in a work of greater weight. There is interesting material here - probably the story Broken Bones is the standout, best developed and carrying its tale over a period of time - but the potential is greater still.
One note - it could do with a keener eye on the editing front, moments such as when it says "the dye is cast" rather than die are oversights that throw you as you read.
Most recent customer reviews
The book opens with the story ‘Mother of Mischief’.Read more
kept you engaged and you didn’t want to stop reading because you wanted to know what...Read more
5 short (and I do mean SHORT, whole book is 40 odd pages, hour and ten minutes to read)...Read more