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Six degrees of separation, FROM Picnic at Hanging Rock TO A few days in the country

July 1, 2017

Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging RockWoo hoo, it’s Six Degrees of Separation day again, and for this month our host Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest) has selected a special book, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is 50 years old this year. This meme, as you probably know by now, requires we players to create a chain of six more books, linking one from the other on whatever basis, flimsy or otherwise, we can justify. I have read Picnic, albeit nearly 40 years ago, and of course as always, I have read all the books I select for my chain.

Sarah Kanake, Sing Fox to meBut, here’s where the problem started. I could think of so many ways to link from this book that I was stalled for a while. Would I link to another novel that readers thought was a real story, or a novel starting with a picnic, or a novel adapted to a popular movie, or, perhaps to another Gothic novel about mysterious disappearances. I decided on the last, and so my first link is to Sarah Kanake’s Sing fox to me (my review). Set in Tasmania, which is a favourite location for Australian Gothic novels, Kanake’s book is about a young 14-year-old girl, River Snow Fox, who disappears into the bush on a rainy night.

Louis Nowra, Into that forest

From here, given the prevalence of the lost child motif in Australian literature, I couldn’t not go to another book about lost young girls in the bush, Louis Nowra’s Into that forest (my review). Also set in Tasmania, it’s about two young girls, Hannah and Becky, who find themselves lost in the bush after their boat capsizes in a storm and Hannah’s parents drown. They are taken in by a Tasmanian Tiger pair, and live with them for four years until they are found – by Becky’s father. And then comes the problem, how to reintegrate into human society.

Eva Hornung, DogboyAnd now, if you know recent Aussie literature, you might guess my next link. Yes, Eva Hornung’s Dog boy (my review). It too is about a feral or wild child, this time a young 4-year-old boy who is taken in by a dog pack. In it, too, like Nowra’s, the boy returns to human society and again, reintegration proves a serious challenge. However, Hornung’s book explores the issue from a different, more scientific angle, and, although she is an Australian author, the book is set in Moscow. This gives me the opportunity to change my linking pattern from lost children to …

Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is illuminatedSetting, sort of. I have reviewed other books set in Russia, but we’re now going to Russia’s neighbour, Ukraine, and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is illuminated (my review). Coincidentally, it also involves the search for a lost person, though in this case it’s the protagonist’s search for the woman who, he believes, saved his grandfather from the Nazis during World War 2. It’s a Holocaust novel, but it is also a rather wild, postmodern novel that plays within itself and with the reader. None of these factors, though, generate my next link. Instead I’m going whimsical, and am linking to …

Tegan Bennett Daylight, Six bedroomsAnother three-name author. I was surprised when I thought of going this way, just how many such-named authors I’ve read, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Tara June Winch, Ali Cobby Eckermann and Tegan Bennett Daylight. I love these names, they have such a wonderful ring when you say them. Anyhow, of these, I’m choosing Tegan Bennett Daylight’s collection of short stories, Six bedrooms (my review). This is not one of those linked collections, but most do share a theme, coming-of-age.

Elizabeth Harrower, A few days in the country and other stories

And now, I bet you thought I was going to link on the coming-of-age theme, didn’t you? But, I’m not. In 2016, Bennett’s book was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. It was a very interesting list, as its six books included two short story collections and an essay collection. For my final link, because I loved it so much, I’m choosing the other short story collection, Elizabeth Harrower’s A few days in the country, and other stories (my review). If you like short stories and you haven’t read it, then you have a thrill in store (is all I can say).

So, there you have it for another month. I’ve managed to include two male authors, and one non-Australian. We spent a lot of time in the bush with lost children, then ventured to the Ukraine and into bedrooms and other domestic spaces, before, guess what, somehow returning to the country (albeit not to lost children.)

Have you read Picnic at Hanging Rock? And whether or not you have, what would you link to? 

34 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2017 2:20 pm

    Yes I have read Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s one of my favourite films. I don’t know what I’d connect that too–I start thinking about it and become caught in a replay loop with a film scene in my head.

  2. July 1, 2017 6:32 pm

    I’ve never thought about Tasmania being the setting for gothic novels, but now you mention it, it makes total sense!

    • July 1, 2017 6:49 pm

      Thanks Weezelle. If you Google I think you’ll find quite a bit of discussion of Tasmanian Gothic, as a subset of Australian Gothic, for the very reason you have realised.

      • July 1, 2017 7:04 pm

        Thanks for the tip – I’m going to do that. There’s so much to learn about Australian writing…

        • July 1, 2017 8:10 pm

          There is, I agree Weezelle, and we’re lucky aren’t we, that there’s now the Internet to make researching easier.

        • July 1, 2017 10:53 pm

          No more inhaling dust mites in the library!

  3. July 1, 2017 7:56 pm

    Like you, I could have gone in so many directions with Picnic – I did consider gothic as the basis of my first link (and the book that sprung to mind was another set nearby Hanging Rock, Chloe Hooper’s The Engagement). using the picnic as a first link, I would have chosen the obscure novel by Wendy James, The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals (it begins with a picnic).

    I reckon next month’s book will be equally tricky to start – so many ways you could go with Pride!

    • July 1, 2017 8:14 pm

      Yes, there are, you’re right Kate. I’m away for the month so will ponder in quiet moments. As for Picnic, I had Enduring love as my novel starting with a picnic. I was quite keen to go with it except that I read it before blogging and didn’t have a review. I prefer to link books I’ve read if I can but I was sorely tempted. But I’m very happy with the Gothic link. Yours, though, was such fun.

  4. July 2, 2017 8:39 am

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

  5. July 2, 2017 9:24 am

    A great list of interesting books and you have me googling Tasmanian Gothic.

  6. July 2, 2017 9:59 am

    All of the chains have been interesting to read this month, perhaps because I’ve actually read the starting book. I haven’t read many in your chain, but am tempted to add a couple of them to my TBR pile.

    • July 2, 2017 4:05 pm

      Oh thanks, Melinda. Do you care to say which ones in particular captured your interest?

  7. July 2, 2017 11:31 am

    Now I want to read Everything is Illuminated. Super job!

  8. July 2, 2017 9:11 pm

    This meme always throws up some curious links doesn’t it. Luckily I hadn’t read your chain post before creating mine otherwise it would have looked like I’d copied your thinking for link 1 since I did end up with Enduring Love. Tasmanian gothic is a new concept for me

    • July 3, 2017 8:07 am

      It does, I agree Karen. I remember in a recent meme two started off with the same link. That’s almost as surprising, I think, as being hugely divergent.

  9. NeilAtKallaroo permalink
    July 2, 2017 9:37 pm

    The landscape is an important part of the starter, so for my first book I’ve gone for “Storm Boy” by Colin Thorpe. This story is set on the windswept beaches of SA’s Coorong.

    For my second choice, another book by Thiele, “The Sun on the Stubble”, set in the Barossa Valley. One of the episodes in this book is about the purchase of a new car (a model T Ford, if I remember correctly), and all the problems this brings.

    Motor cars also cause problems for Mr Toad, in “Wind in the Willows” by Grahame Green. I think the titles provide a second link! Near the end of the story there is a ferocious battle to retrieve Toad Hall.

    Ferocious battles bring to mind Logan Ninefingers, the hero (anti-hero?) of “The Blade Itself”, by Joe Abercrombie. Yes, fantasy. But Abercrombie has a wicked sense of humour, and his characters are well fleshed. Definitely worth a read. The setting is mediaeval.

    Another story with a mediaeval setting is “The Sword in the Stone” by T H White. Probably funnier than the Disney cartoon adaptation, and the rest of the stories in the series are for adults, not children.

    That’s only five links, but we’ve gone from a rock to a stone, so seems like a good place to stop!

    • July 3, 2017 8:00 am

      I’ll give you that Neil, that is, stopping at a rock to a stone. I like that you got Mr Toad in there.

      • NeilAtKallaroo permalink
        July 3, 2017 8:58 am

        I fear it was inevitable. He is a larger than life character who demands attention!

  10. July 3, 2017 2:52 pm

    I haven’t read Picnic at Hanging Rock – or any of the books in your chain! But I do like the sound of ‘Picnic’ and of the Tasmanian gothic books. My chain went off in a completely different line – http://www.booksplease.org/2017/07/01/six-degrees-from-picnic-at-hanging-rock-to-a-study-in-scarlet/

  11. Deepika Ramesh permalink
    July 3, 2017 5:07 pm

    This is an interesting meme. And thank you for sharing. 🙂 I am instantly attracted to ‘Dog Boy’. I should read that book soon. 🙂

    • July 3, 2017 9:09 pm

      Ah, thanks Deepika. What attracted you to that one in particular? It’s a great read though so I’d be interested to hear what you think if you do manage to read it.

      • Deepika Ramesh permalink
        July 4, 2017 4:15 am

        I am an animal lover, Sue. So, it felt like a perfect read. Let me see if I can grab a copy here.

  12. Meg permalink
    July 12, 2017 2:41 pm

    Hi Sue, I’ve been holidaying in Portugal and now catching up with emails. Once I saw Six Degrees today I couldn’t help but respond. I remained in Australia. From Picninc at Hanging Rock, I raced to Picninc Races by Dymphna Cusack; and then found Snake by Kate Jennings (which I loved); I saw lots of Eucalptus in Portugal so Eucalyptus by Murray Bail; I looked further into the sky, The Service of Clouds by Delia Falconer (another favourite of mine), and finished with The Hill of Content (Bookshop in Melbourne), by A H Spencer.

    • July 12, 2017 4:04 pm

      Oh, Portugal us great isn’t it. Hope you had a good time. Love your choices, particularly Picnic races. Good one.

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