Review: Gnarled Bones Tam MayPublished by Dreambook Press

ISBN 9780998197906 (print)

ISBN 9780998197913 (ebook)

‘The past does not exist, so it cannot hurt me.’ How many desperate people, I wonder, have muttered some such mantra under their breaths in the hope they can stop brooding about things dead and buried? The trouble is, of course, very few things are dead and buried. Each of us lives with the consequences of the past; its deeds are all around us. And if we insulate ourselves from the pain it can cause, we can also miss out on its pleasures and joys.

The stories in Gnarled Bones are much concerned about the past’s persistence through time, whether through learned and internalized ways of seeing oneself and the world, as in the opening story, ‘Mother of Mischief’, or the power of a single event to derail a life, as in ‘Broken Bows’, or – implicitly and explicitly throughout – a semi-malevolent maternal love that seeks to control and cripple a child’s natural urge to explore and engage with the world.

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