#Ockham NZ Awards shortlist Lloyd Jones
- Author: Lloyd Jones
- Title: The Cage
- Published: 2018
- Trivia: 2019 Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlist
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
Why did I read this book?
- The Cage is shortlisted for Ockham Book Awards (New Zealand)
- I wanted to see why the jury selected this book.
Why after reading 20% of the book I was ready to call it quits?
- Usually a book starts out slowly and gets better and better.
- This book did exact the opposite.
- I slogged through chapters 1-8. (20%)
- The reader is presented a bizarre hotel that
- decides two strangers are too ‘other’ and should
- be caged in the backyard of the hotel.
What did I do differently after ch 8?
- I realized if I stop short I’ll risk missing something incredible.
- Resisting the impulse to stop midway also teaches the reader strength.
- I read the book as a fable
- Forget the bazaar framework of a hotel
- …and it’s eccentric owners who have caged two guests.
- Look for the observations that Lloyd Jones is making
- …to teach us a moral lesson.
- He wants us to see
- …strangers (refugees) from another perspective
- ….not just staring or gazing at them on a TV screen.
- He uses animals that mimic human traits
- …and humans that treat others as animals
- Lloyd Jones uses the
- ….fable, a literary device.
- The author made lets animals teach a moral lesson.
- There are some powerful images in the book:
- Narrator compares strangers to sheep:
- Sheep: spectacular single-mindedness
- …they eat in response to coming famine
- during the day they hardly know what to do with themselves
- Strangers: (refugees …like sheep)
- look forward to each new day
- it may bring release.
- It passes.
- There is another endless night to get through.
- Observations…and there were many excellent
- descriptions of the plight of refugees...
- that will pierce your soul.
- Once your soul has been pierced then you are able to help others.
- Example observation:
- Pressed around their eyes is a bruising confusion.
- They stand mesmerized by their circumstances
- …where just a moment ago, in their minds at least,
- they were in their kitchen at home.
- Example observation:
- Strangers (refugees) pace…
- they do it to alleviate a feeling of
- ..helplessness when rain is falling.
- They do not wish to be cooperative like grass
- …or submissive like mud.
- Example observation:
- Trustee (authority) Mr Bennett:
- “They are not incarcerated, they are temporally caged.”
- Viktor (cook in the hotel): “And the difference?”
- Best chapter for moral lesson – Ch 11 Setting: Zoo
- Lesson: The animals (strangers, refugees) don’t hate us
- …they alternate between bewilderment and boredom.”
- Core message book – Ch 21 Setting: Hotel backyard
- Trustees authorities) no longer go down to the yard
- …the narrator must transcribe what he sees.
- The Trustees are only interested in the facts
- …they don’t get the fuller story of life inside the cage”
- The book is too long!! (43 chapter and just 263 pages)
- After reading 50 % of the book
- …my interest seriously wavered.
- Note: I noticed around chapter 22
- ….the narrative repeats itself
- over and over
- with observations, food for the strangers at the feeding hole,
- narrator playing the clarinet,
- visits to a zoo, strangers pace in the cage,
- sit on log or huddle in the back against a stone memorial wall…
- relieving themselves in a newly dug hole.
- The strangers, visitors or Trustees (owners of hotel)
- keep asking “ Is there any news?
- Flashbacks that
- made no sense to me in the narrative!
- flies in a plane with his father
- travels on a particular road with his father
- visits a lighthouse with his mother
- recalls a snorkeling holiday!
- Strange threads in the narrative…
- Note: I don’t really understand the symbol of the narrator playing his clarinet all the time. Is it just to make music “to sooth the savage beast?” (strangers, refugees)
- Note: constant thread in the book: narrator is serving breakfast ( eggs, toast, jam, coffee etc) to strangers through a feeding hole.
- Note: woman in the hat…demented neighbor who visits the cage or a asylum representative or just a vision?
Weak point: useless chapters…just useless ( filler?)
Ch 25 Stangers receive a plate warmer…Trustees celebrate with a sparkling glass of wine and the narrator plays a song on his clarinet. What is the point?
Ch 26 Descriptions of nightmares ( Mr. Bennett and the Mole), strangers attempt to stand on the plate warmer and piling stones against the cage as a wall. Narrator brings the strangers some toilet paper…then he plays a song on his clarinet. What is the point?
Ch 27 Katie (little girl in hotel) wants to feed them (strangers). Strangers asleep in the dirt. Strangers are encouraged to grow own vegetables – Katie and narrator visit zoo again. What is the point?
- Criticism should be like a rain
- … gentle enough to nourish growth
- …without destroying the roots.
- I have found many strong points in this book
- …but I think the author could have trimmed
- his manuscript in ch 22 – 35.
- With a little less clarinet…wallowing in the dirty cage
- coffee, toast and eggs in the feeding hole
- …it would give this book extra polish.
- Yes this book is confronting.
- No….unfortunately…not my choice
- for the Ockham NZ Book Award 2019.
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