Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Singing Bones

The Singing Bones. Shaun Tan. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There are stories, honed by the retelling, simplified by the people who recorded them and transmitted them, old stories, with the edges rubbed off them, like the pebbles on a beach, each story the perfect size and heft to send skimming over the water, or to use to strike an enemy. Folktalkes are like jokes: If they had a beginning, it is lost to us.

Premise/plot: The Singing Bones is a collection of photographs and one-page 'retellings' of Grimm fairy tales or folk tales. The photographs are of sculptures made by Shaun Tan. Gaiman, who wrote the introduction, probably says it better than I ever could: "They [the sculptures] feel primal, as if they were made in a long-ago age of the world, when the stories were first being shaped, and that perhaps the sculptures came first."

There are dozens of photographs. They do take center stage in this book. The words being almost like a brief but necessary interruption. The text does not summarize the fairy tale. The text is definitely on the literary side. The reader has to work to make connections and "see" the bigger story that both photograph and text tell.

My thoughts: I didn't actually love this one personally. But. Just because I don't love, love, love something doesn't mean that I don't recognize ART when I see it. This is a weighty 'literary' book that is definitely interesting and quirky. I think those who love it will really LOVE it.

This quote by Neil Gaiman was fabulous:
People need stories. It's one of the things that make us who we are. We crave stories, because they make us more than ourselves, they give us escape and they give us knowledge. They entertain
us and they change us, as they have changed and entertained us for thousands of years.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Unknown said...

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I love your blog. My children's book, "Santosh the Little Elephant: A Tale of Friendship and Courage," was very recently published. I was wondering if you would be interested in reading my book and talking about it on your blog. I am a civic-minded primary school teacher. Like you, I care deeply about instilling a love of reading in children. I spend my free time in the community educating parents on the importance of literacy. I realize I am just an average person and you must get these inquiries all the time. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. I have written multiple articles for various local magazines in my town. I would be willing to do whatever is asked of me to add value to your site. I'm just really trying to get my work out there. Thank you for your time. God bless you.
Gilbert-Ian Rueda

Kailana said...

I am going to have to try this at some point because I have enjoyed his other books!