Kate has chosen a doozy for this month’s Six Degrees of Separation meme (about which you can find more if you click on her blog name: booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Meanwhile, assuming you have done that or that you already understand the meme, I’m getting on with the show.
Like last month, we are starting with a book that I haven’t read but have seen. I’m glad I saw it but I don’t necessarily want to read it or more of the author’s books. The book is, as you’ll have seen from the post’s title, Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. It’s an example of transgressive fiction of which I’ve read a little, but that’s not where I’m going with my first link. (Neither, you’ll be surprised to know, will I be linking this month to she who needs no introduction!)
There were so many ways I thought of linking from Fight Club, including a sneaky one to my Jane, in fact. (If you must know it was on the idea of cult fiction!) But, in the end, I decided to go with the idea of rules. Anyone who knows Fight Club knows that the club had rules. Well, rules also came up in a recent book I read, Margaret Merrilees’ Big rough stones (my review), when the collective of women running a women’s shelter discuss how to respond to a misdemeanour by Ro, the protagonist.
Now, Big rough stones is a women-centric novel set primarily in Adelaide. Another women-centric novel set in that city is Barbara Hanrahan’s The scent of eucalyptus (my review). Her women, though, form a very different sort of “collective” – they are her mother, grandmother and aunt – and her (autobiographical) novel is about her growing up, rather than about her adult life.
However, Hanrahan did, in fact, have a very interesting adult life because she was an artist (printmaker, in particular) as well as a novelist. She died too young, of cancer, at the age of 52. Another artist who also writes is Shaun Tan. Unfortunately, I have not written much by him here, but I have posted on Eric (my review), which is a little book that was excerpted from his well-reviewed, beautifully illustrated story collection, Tales from outer suburbia.
Eric is about a “strange” (as you can tell from the book cover) foreign exchange student who comes to stay with a family in suburbia. The story is about feeling and being “other”. It’s delightfully whimsical – with a point. Another book about feeling “other” – but one that is intense rather than whimsical – is WG Sebald’s Austerlitz (my review). I love seeing how the same, fundamental “universal truth” can be explored in so many different ways.
Sebald was a German writer, but unfortunately I haven’t read many German writers here although I do have a few on my physical TBR piles. I have, though, read Friedrich Gerstäcker’s Australia: A German traveller in the Age of Gold (my review). That was an eye-opening read about a German traveller-explorer in mid-nineteenth century Australia – eye-opening for its content, but also for reminding me of how many stories there are out there, waiting to tell us about other lives and times, stories that need publishers like Wakefield Press, in this instance, to bring them to new generations.
Another eye-opening story about another place and time – and that I also read in 2017, when I read Gerstäcker – is Jane Fletcher Geniesse’s biography, Passionate nomad: The life of Freya Stark (my review). What a woman Stark was – living and traveling as she did in the Arabic states from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s, in particular, and being, in fact, one of the first non-Arabians to travel through the southern Arabian deserts.
We’ve travelled quite a bit this month, starting in America, then visiting Australia (including Outer Suburbia) and Europe, before finishing in the Middle East. We’ve met some intrepid people – real and fictional – and have heard from three male and three female writers (excluding the starting book).
Now, over to you: Have you read Fight Club? And, regardless, what would you link to?