Bone Island

Description

239 pages
$19.95
ISBN 1-894800-13-3
DDC C813'.54

Publisher

Year

2002

Contributor

Reviewed by Darleen R. Golke

Darleen R. Golke is a high-school teacher-librarian in Winnipeg,
Manitoba.

Review

The Knee family epitomizes dysfunction. One October afternoon, the
remains of its curmudgeonly patriarch, Homer, are discovered on his
solitary Bone Island refuge off the coast of Victoria. An unpublished
writer, Homer apparently left behind a novel. His agent and business
partner, his estranged daughter, his cynical ex-wife, and his
dangerously attractive lawyer all want the manuscript, and assume that
it is in the possession of Homer’s middle-aged son, Larry (the
narrator of Bone Island). But Larry does not discover the manuscript
until after he hosts a Halloween night memorial for Homer, with all the
stakeholders in attendance.

Homer leaves bizarre instructions for the management of his opus: “do
not read the manuscript,” show the instructions to no one, and deliver
the package into the hands of Larry’s half-brother (who was
“conceived in a leaky pup tent” with a tattoo artist). Larry’s
quest to solve the puzzle and carry out his father’s instructions
leads him to strange places and equally strange people (including a
“cross-dressing paranoid private investigator”). It also jeopardizes
his 20-year marriage to Bonnie, his relationship with his son, his
construction business, and his own sanity.

The line between Larry’s experiences and Homer’s manuscript is
blurred in a convoluted story that is rendered even more inaccessible by
the author’s decision not to use quotation marks. That said, the
reader who perseveres is rewarded with lyrical, richly descriptive
passages and a likable narrator who elicits our sympathy as he struggles
to make sense of the mystery his father has left, and his own feelings.

Citation

McPherson, Chris., “Bone Island,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9830.