Monday, 26 April 2021

The Naming of Bones by Jan Kaneen

About the Book

Title: The Naming of Bones

Author: Jan Kaneen

Publication: Retreat West Books, 2021

Summary (taken from the back cover): Every object has a story to tell.

Set against the backdrop of the Norfolk coast, The Naming of Bones waves a patchwork tale of redemption and recovery. Real-life memories intertwine with dreams and folklore in this deeply moving story of of loss and unresolved grief, where tiny moments carry as much weight as the ever-present, ever-changing North Sea.

As passionate as it is personal, this story unearths the relics of the author's life to reveal the transformative power of love, understanding and forgiveness.

What I Think

The Naming of Bones, a memoir-in-flash, is like a love letter: to writing, to the sea, to her family, to herself.

Kaneen explores writing as catharsis within her memoir. “I start writing while the dreamy-feeling is still strong and the pictures sharp and vivid in my mind’s eye, trying not to think, letting my thoughts leak out, unfiltered onto the page. The flow of words is glacial at first, a forced trickle, then it pours, faster again and it’s soaking into the paper in wave after wave after wave.”

In ‘Bagsy-Blobsy, No-Back-Answers’ four children, forging a new family, are on an outing. One small event, the mere climbing of a stile, highlights their individual roles and their roles as a family unit. The “exchange [of] watery smiles strengthen[s] the sharing of them, and that’s that, our stepfamily roles [are] set forever.”

Before this family there was another family, the memories of that family buried so deep within, it takes a trauma to crack open the door and let the memories trickle out. There is a trip to the seaside, with a picnic of sandwiches and marzipan fruit; there is a cake, or an iced bun, with candles; there is something, like shifting sand, packed away that needs to be unraveled.

Through an extended stay by the sea, writing about her dreams and nightmares, Kaneen is slowly able to unearth the treasures hidden in her memory. This is an extremely moving and tender memoir about loss, but mostly about love and its healing powers.

About the Author

Jan Kaneen holds an MA in Creative Writing from the Open University. She writes often dark, surreal and strange short stories and flash fictions merging lived experience with fiction, and has been published in many on-line and in-print magazines and journals most recently in The Fish Anthology 2020, The Dinesh Allirajah Anthology 2020, AI, The Bacopa Review 2020 and The Molotov Cocktail Winners Anthology 2020. Her stories have won prizes in places like Flash 500, InkTears, Molotov Cocktail, Scribble Magazine, Horror Scribes, Retreat West and Ellipsis Litzine and in 2020 she won the Segora Short Story Competition. Her debut memoir-in-flash The Naming of Bones is forthcoming from Retreat West Books in Spring 2021

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