Skip to content

April 24, 2019

3

#Ockham NZ Awards shortlist Lloyd Jones

by N@ncy

 

Why did I read this book?

  1. The Cage is shortlisted for Ockham Book Awards (New Zealand)
  2. I wanted to see why the jury selected this book.

 

Why after reading 20% of the book I was ready to call it quits?

  1. Usually a book starts out slowly and gets better and better.
  2. This book did exact the opposite.
  3. I slogged through chapters 1-8. (20%)
  4. The reader is presented a bizarre hotel that
  5. decides two strangers are too ‘other’ and should
  6. be caged in the backyard of the hotel.

 

What did I do differently after ch 8?

  1. I realized if I stop short I’ll risk missing something incredible.
  2. Resisting the impulse to stop midway also teaches the reader strength.
  3. I read the book as a fable
  4. Forget the bazaar framework of a hotel
  5. …and it’s eccentric owners who have caged two guests.
  6. Look for the observations that Lloyd Jones is making
  7. …to teach us a moral lesson.
  8. He wants us to see
  9. …strangers (refugees) from another perspective
  10. ….not just staring or gazing at them  on a TV screen.
  11. He uses animals that mimic human traits
  12. …and humans that treat others as animals

 

Strong point:

  1. Lloyd Jones uses the
  2. ….fable, a literary device.
  3. The author made lets animals teach a moral lesson.
  4. There are some  powerful images in the book:
  5. Narrator compares strangers to sheep:
  6. Sheep: spectacular single-mindedness
  7. …they eat in response to coming famine
  8. during the day they hardly know what to do with themselves
  9. Strangers: (refugees …like sheep)
  10. look forward to each new day
  11. it may bring release.
  12. It passes.
  13. There is another endless night to get through.

 

Strong point:

  1. Observations…and there were many excellent
  2. descriptions of the plight of refugees...
  3. that will pierce your soul.
  4. Once your soul has been pierced then you are able to help others.
  5. Example observation:
  6. Pressed around their eyes is a bruising confusion.
  7. They stand mesmerized by their circumstances
  8. …where just a moment ago, in their minds at least,
  9. they were in their kitchen at home.
  10. Example observation:
  11. Strangers (refugees) pace…
  12. they do it to alleviate a feeling of
  13. ..helplessness when rain is falling.
  14. They do not wish to be cooperative like grass
  15. …or submissive like mud.
  16. Example observation:
  17. Trustee (authority) Mr Bennett:
  18. “They are not incarcerated, they are temporally caged.”
  19. Viktor (cook in the hotel): “And the difference?”

 

Strong point:

  1. Best chapter  for moral lessonCh 11 Setting:  Zoo
  2. Lesson: The animals (strangers, refugees) don’t hate us
  3. …they alternate between bewilderment and boredom.”
  4. Core message book Ch 21 Setting: Hotel backyard
  5. Trustees authorities)  no longer go down to the yard
  6. …the narrator must transcribe what he sees.
  7. The Trustees are only interested in the facts
  8. they don’t get the fuller story of life inside the cage”

 

Weak point:

  1. The book is too long!!  (43 chapter and just 263 pages)
  2. After reading 50 % of the book
  3. …my interest seriously wavered.
  4. Note: I noticed around chapter 22
  5. ….the narrative repeats itself 
  6. over and over
  7. with observations, food for the strangers at the feeding hole,
  8. narrator playing the clarinet,
  9. visits to a zoo, strangers pace in the cage,
  10. sit on log or huddle in the back against a stone memorial wall…
  11. relieving  themselves in a newly dug hole.
  12. The strangers, visitors or Trustees (owners of hotel)
  13. keep  asking “ Is there any news?

 

Weak point:

  1. Flashbacks that
  2. made no sense  to me in the narrative!
  3. Narrator…
  4. flies in a plane with his father
  5. travels on a particular road with his father
  6. visits a lighthouse with his mother
  7. recalls a snorkeling holiday!

 

Weak point:

  1. Strange threads in the narrative…
  2. 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)
  3. Note: constant thread in the book: narrator is serving breakfast ( eggs, toast, jam, coffee etc) to strangers through a feeding hole.
  4. 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?

 

Conclusion:

  1. Criticism should be like a rain
  2. … gentle  enough to nourish growth
  3. …without destroying the roots.
  4. I have found many strong points in this book
  5. …but I think the author could have trimmed
  6. his manuscript in ch 22 – 35.
  7. With a little less clarinet…wallowing in the dirty cage
  8. coffee, toast and eggs in the feeding hole
  9. …it would  give this book extra polish.
  10. #JustSaying
  11. Yes this book is confronting.
  12. No….unfortunately…not my choice
  13. for the Ockham NZ Book Award 2019.

 

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 24 2019

    LOL we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one!
    BTW I think the point of the trustees celebrating is to depict how western nations can do so very little for people in need, often giving them things that are entirely useless, but they congratulate themselves on being generous because they have no idea. They feel virtuous because they think they’ve been humane. But in this situation, these poor people were freezing outside in the Kiwi winter, and instead of inviting them into the warmth, or at the very least building them adequate accommodation and giving them warm clothes, they gave them a plate warmer big enough for only one of them to sit on. They used it as a method of control too, withdrawing the electricity to demonstrate their power. And even the boy (who is a bit more decent than the rest of them) turns it off at night, because the extension cord through his open window is letting cold air into his room.

    Like

    Reply
    • Apr 24 2019

      All good points….but I found the plate warmer a bit far-fetched.
      The callousness of the trustees was very evident
      and that is the point L. Jones was making.
      Core message: authoriies ‘don’t get the fuller story of life inside the cage.’
      This book will color the way I listen to news about refugees….for sure.
      Thanks so much for you comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #Ockham New Zealand Awards shortlist | NancyElin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: