Rule Of The Bone

Bone, this novel’s narrator and hero is now up there with my favorite characters. A coming of age story, addiction, troubled youths, an on the road adventure, some philosophy, a bit of a travel, teenager speak, lots of “jamaica mon’”, living off the earth, friendship, self reliance, luck and taking responsibility for your actions. Those are all subjects tackled by Russel Banks and mixed in one superb story about a 14 year old disadvantaged kid who goes through hell, some more hell and some parts of heaven on his way to precocious adulthood.

It might sound like too many subjects and some of those are often badly handled and corny but somehow it all works together and the kid panhandling and sleeping in squats becomes someone you wish you could meet and talk with.

Magnificent… I believed every word of it, forgot I was reading fiction. Russell Banks has created a story that is both shattering and reassuring, and a narrator, Bone, who will stay with me for the rest of my life.—Roddy Doyle

One of the reviewers on amazon titled his review “A Catcher In The Rye For Modern Times”, that’s one of those expressions used and re-used way too often. This time though, it really applies. Threre aren’t that many books that I plan to re-read, this is one of them.


aj January 30, 2004

Looks like an interesting book: I’ll have to pick it up. I recently read J.M. Coetzee’s semi-autobiographical novella “Youth,” which runs along similar lines, but I found the main character intolerably self-absorbed. Overall the book was sketchily written and the tone monotonously whinging…

Not to nitpick, but I think you mean “precocious,” not “precautious.” :)

John January 30, 2004

I really liked this book when I read it years ago. What impressed me was how well Banks, who is by no means a young man, could write a contemporary teenage voice that sounded as authentic as it did.

Alex January 31, 2004

Of course I shall give this one a read…but speaking of this Coming of Age thing…I suggest you check out Godard’s Éloge de l’amour which tackles the issue by saying that nobody ever truly enters ‘adulthood’ but instead goes from child…to elderly…it’s been playing at Cinema Du Parc.

optimus crime February 2, 2004

I devoured this book in a single sitting while, of all things, babysitting. I would have been in twelfth grade, and my younger sister needed to pawn off one of her regular sits to me. Fair enough, it was an easy night, I figured. I arrived around ten, and stayed until the parents returned from some sort of aging hippy function around 4am. Things found, other than this book? Well, I saw a light go on in the basement at like 2am, and (slightly freaked out) went down to investigate. Turns out it was a timer setup — they had a pretty sizeable grow op in the basement. Not quite commercial size, but pretty darn big for a personal crop. The dad drove me home afterwards, and we talked about our favourite albums (him: Zappa.) on the ride home. No mention was made of their horticulture. ;)

Wow, uh, that was a random rant. The point? I loved bone, though the protagonist’s patois was a little hard to initially get through.

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