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A collection of stories by Keri Hulme, was published in 1986 (Victoria University Press). The collection sold poorly despite the fact that a number of the stories were written contemporaneously with Hulme's best-selling novel, the bone people. The two works have many stylistic and thematic affinities, and even share characters in common: Simon's parentage is further elucidated in A Drift in Dream and the narrator in Te Kaihau/ The Windeater is remarkably like Kerewin Holmes. Other similarities can be noted: supernatural and mythic elements are frequently integrated into realistic representations of everyday life; gender roles are consistently subverted; language and character are creolised (Mori- Pkeh being the most common variation, a feature signalled by the collection's bilingual title and underscored by the frequent use of Mori mythology and fragments of Mori language in the English text). There is a recurrent concern with the failings and dangers of language and, linked to this, much linguistic and syntactic experimentation and literary allusion. In typically Modernist fashion, language constantly threatens to fail the writer: Have I told you anything?/ Has it meant anything to you?/ Or is it all just writing?/ All just words? (Kiteflying Party at Doctors Point'). Most familiar of all is the recurring figure of the lonely, isolated outcast, the alienated wanderer (pertinently, kaihau means both wanderer and loafer). Where the collection deviates from the novel, as several critics have noted, is in the unrelentingly bleak vision of the short fiction, despite moments of what Ian Wedde, in his NZ Listener review, calls Hulme's garrulous humour. While in the bone people alienated individualism is reconciled with community, racial tensions are averted in the reconciliation of Mori and Pkeh, and love triumphs over death and violence (all via the medium of the supernatural), ...

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  • Seller location: Waitakere City, Auckland, NZ

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