Read Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame Free Online
Book Title: Owls Do Cry|
The author of the book: Janet Frame
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 21.13 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.4
Edition: George Braziller
Date of issue: March 1st 1982
ISBN 13: 9780807609569
Read full description of the books:
Did I enjoy reading this? No, but that is because of the subject matter. This is a book about the mentally ill, the physically ill, aging and death. It records the darker side of human behavior; how humans behave toward the impoverished, the ill and the aging. The portrayal is uncomfortably accurate.
This was Janet Frame's first novel and it has strong autobiographical elements. She was incorrectly institutionalized as a schizophrenic. She was institutionalized for a decade but avoided a lobotomy. Her writing had begun to be published and a doctor saw that maybe rather than being ill she was simply expressing a creative sensibility. Her life story is moving. But should one judge a book by the author's difficult life or the value of the book? I don't even judge a book by its value, but rather by my own personal reaction to it! I would give it five stars if I were to rate the book by the author's difficulties or as proof that what is defined as mentally ill is debatable.
How is the writing? Is it special? Yes, absolutely. Think free verse poetry. I personally have difficulty with poetry, but this is easy to read. Much of the book is written employing a semi-stream-of-consciousness narrative. You perceive how the character thinks. The author's decade in an institution and her own troubled thoughts (two of her sisters drowned) are used to good effect. The dialogs are perfect. You hear what people DO say.
Humor? Yes, even given the dark tone of the book, there is humor. Even on her deathbed the author has retained her sense of humor. When she was diagnosed with incurable leukemia she was told that they would do all they could to make the few weeks that remained comfortable. She jokingly responded, "No one has ever cared about my quality of life before!" Here are some lines that made me smile. Daphne, who is the central character in the book, is speaking of her father's hygiene routines and talks of, "....the powder that he sprinkled on his feet to stop them from becoming athletic." Or a depiction of a nurse "with her greet the visitor smile". Or the comment, "It must be in the family. Some of these visitors are queerer than the patients." There may be humor, but there is a lack of kind people. Maybe Daphne's mother....but she dies?!
Doctors. Should one trust doctors? This book is upsetting if you, as I do, immediately get psyched out in a medical institution. The author certainly shares my skepticism. When you enter a hospital you better be healthy if you want to exit.
And then there is the ending, the epilogue. It is very clever, and that left me loving the book. A message is left. Should I judge a book solely by the ending? Parts of the book do in fact drag.
Do you see how hard it is for me to decide on my rating?! In summary:
Good writing, poetic in tone.
A touch of humor.
Health issues, again hard for me....
Mental illness is portrayed with stunning insight.
People accurately drawn, but with an emphasis on the evil rather than the good.
The narration by Heather Bolton is outstanding. The dialect was genuine and not hard to follow. She beautifully sings the songs and recites the poetry. When Daphne sings and then her sister, you actually hear the difference. Daphne's father and mother and each sibling, each has their own voice. EXCELLENT narration which cannot be improved upon, but I insist on rating a written book and the narration of the audiobook separately.
I don't think I ever really came to feel for Daphne......so three rather than four stars. Definitely a book worth reading.
Oh yes, at the end of the audiobook there are two additional pieces, a "Biographical Sketch" by Pamela Gordon and a long, very long, "Introduction to the Author" by Lawrence Jones. I enjoyed the first but was put off by the second. I don't want to be told why I should like a book, so I stopped listening. I want to form my own opinion. I will now, having completed my review, go back and listen. This introduction, placed at the end, is more than an hour long. It has the character of a literary review. It felt promotional.
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Read information about the authorThe fate befalling the young woman who wanted "to be a poet" has been well documented. Desperately unhappy because of family tragedies and finding herself trapped in the wrong vocation (as a schoolteacher) her only escape appeared to be in submission to society's judgement of her as abnormal. She spent four and a half years out of eight years, incarcerated in mental hospitals. The story of her almost miraculous survival of the horrors and brutalising treatment in unenlightened institutions has become well known. She continued to write throughout her troubled years, and her first book (The Lagoon and Other Stories) won a prestigious literary prize, thus convincing her doctors not to carry out a planned lobotomy.
She returned to society, but not the one which had labelled her a misfit. She sought the support and company of fellow writers and set out single-mindedly and courageously to achieve her goal of being a writer. She wrote her first novel (Owls Do Cry) while staying with her mentor Frank Sargeson, and then left New Zealand, not to return for seven years.
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