So our strange Antipodean summer has ended, and I, for one, am sad. How often did I, this year, get to wear my summer frocks? More often than I needed to, actually, because I hated seeing them lonely in the wardrobe. I know there are people who hate the heat, and I know that it was great to have had some good soakings of rain this year, but still … a few more hot summer days would have been appreciated. With the whinge over, I’ll get to something I’ll never whinge about, our Six Degrees of Separation meme. If you don’t know how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book – and wonder of wonders, for the second month in a row, I’ve read the starting book, Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence (my review). It wasn’t one I would normally have read, but it was a reading group choice, and like most of my reading group’s choices – because we have a great group of interesting women – I was glad I did read it. Subtitled On awe, wonder, and things that sustain you when the world goes dark, it sounds like it could be a self-help book. It is a bit, but not entirely.
So, the obvious choice for a link would be come sort of other self-help book – or memoir about surviving great odds. I suppose at a push, my next book could be seen as the latter, but it’s not really, so that’s not the linking point. The link is that, Stan Grant, the author of Talking to my country (my review), is an occasional host of ABC TV’s The Drum program for which Baird is one of the two founding hosts.
I have heard Stan Grant speak in person in an ANU/Canberra Times Literary Event, and my, was he impressive. The first such event I attended after I started blogging was back in 2010 when I heard (and saw, of course) Marion Halligan converse with the English author Sarah Waters about her latest novel at the time, The little stranger (my review). She’s quietened down a bit lately, hasn’t she?
I could then, but I’m not going to, link on authors who have quietened down. Instead I’m linking on the fact that both Waters’ novel and Shokoofeh Azar’s The enlightenment of the greengage tree (my review) deal in some way with ghosts, albeit Waters’ book is a more traditional ghost story while Azar’s ghosts are of quite a different spirit.
Azar migrated to Australia from Iran, and her novel, while not exactly autobiographical, draws from the experiences of friends and family under Ayatollah Khomeini’s dictatorial regime. Elizabeth Kuiper was much younger than Azar when she migrated to Australia – with her mother – from Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial regime in Zimbabwe. Her novel, Little stones (my review), does have an autobiographical element.
Kuiper’s protagonist and first-person narrator is 11-year-old Hannah. Another novel – or novella in this case – with an 11-year-old narrator is Nick Earls’ NoHo (my review), which is set in Los Angeles (North Hollywood if you want to know!) although Earls is very definitely Aussie.
NoHo is part of a (subtly linked, apparently) novella series by Earls, called Wisdom Tree. My last link is going to be a bit cheeky, because it draws on this idea of a novella series. I say cheeky because Nigel Featherstone’s three novellas published by Blemish Press were not originally conceived as a series. It’s just that at the end of a month’s writer’s retreat in Launceston, many years ago now, he found he had sketches for three novellas, and Blemish published all three. As NoHo is the last of Earls’ 5-book series, I’ll link to Beach volcano (my review) which is the last of Featherstone’s. Their subject matter is very different but both books are about sons and brothers – one 11-year-old, one 44-year-old – who are facing challenges in their lives! I’ll leave it at that…
So, hmm, where have we been this month. All over the shop really. While nearly all this month’s authors are Australian, or Australian-based now, they have taken us not only to Australia, but England, Iran, Zimbabwe and Los Angeles in the USA. That’s a bit of arm-chair travelling for you, though we’ve been through some rocky territory!
Now, the usual: Have you read Phosphorescence? And, regardless, what would you link to?