In this collection of five short stories, strange and sometimes spooky events have a profound effect on characters' lives. A newly divorced woman goes back to school to begin a new chapter of her life only to find herself circling back to where she started. A woman and her friends spend a day at the circus but the innocent fun mingles childhood nostalgia with brutal fear. A woman ventures out of her isolated apartment one quiet Saturday afternoon to an art exhibit that leaves an eerie imprint on her psyche. A middle-aged violinist reveals the mystery behind his declining artistic powers to a stranger on a train. And the title story weaves journal entries and first-person narrative to paint a picture of the complicated bond between an orphaned brother and sister. These stories leave an impression of the present and future in the shadow of the past.
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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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Gnarled Bones and Other Stories based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Gnarled bones and other stories, is a collection of five short stories written by Tam May. The book opens with the story ‘Mother of Mischief’. ‘Mother of Mischief’ concerns a woman who after getting divorced decides its time to get herself a college education, but because she is on a low income she ends up in rented accommodation, which she has to share with a group of young men. This for me was my favourite short story out of the five. I like the way the story built up to reveal the inevitable conclusion. As the book is only 70 pages long it is ideal for a quick read, and you should manage to read it in one, or two sittings. That is unless you want to read the five stories separately, putting the book down after each one, so that you can absorb each story. The other stories in the book include Bracelets, A First Saturday Outing, Broken Bows, and of course Gnarled Bones. A great collection of stories that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. 5 short (and I do mean SHORT, whole book is 40 odd pages, hour and ten minutes to read) stories that messed with my head. This is by no means a negative review, not at all. It's just they didn't work for me. Someone else may well love them. They are all well written, with no editing or spelling errors I spotted. They just, for me, didn't work. I read them all, and for all five books, I didn't get the point of the story. My immediate reaction when I finished was 'what did I just read???' I'm sorry I didn't love them, because I like the way May tells their stories. I'd like to read a longer piece by this author. Because I did read them all, and ONLY that reason... 3 stars. **same worded review will appear elsewhere**
As mentioned above, this collection of five short stories is based around the cyclic theme of the past affecting the present and future. Told with abruptness, the stories rely on faceted reflections of characters, a little piece of the soul that reaches out to influence the atmosphere around them. 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 tiny 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.