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Six degrees of separation, FROM The bass rock TO …

June 5, 2021

It’s June downunder – well, I suppose it’s June everywhere! – but here, downunder, June also means winter, so, wah! Oh well, the sooner it starts, the sooner it’s over! And, while we are suffering it, we can aways enjoy fun blogging things like 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, as most of you know, is that Kate sets our starting book – and I’m sorry to say that again it’s a book I haven’t read, but I love her choice because it’s this year’s Stella Prize winner, Evie Wyld’s The bass rock.

Catherine McKinnon, Storyland

I was spoilt for choices with this starting book, in that there are several obvious links to books I’ve read, like, a previous Stella Prize winner or another book by Evie Wyld. But, I wanted to challenge myself a bit more than that, so, hmm, you probably won’t like this, but Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland (my review) opens in the voice of a young man who is employed by the explorer George Bass! Yes, I know, going from title to minor character is cheeky but it’s my blog and I wanted to remind readers of Storyland, because it’s a good read.

Jane Rawson, A wrong turn at the office of unmade lists

Storyland covers time multiple periods in Australia, including two futuristic ones, the first being 2033 when climate change has caused significant destruction resulting in people struggling to survive. Jane Rawson’s A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (my review) is set in two time frames, one being 2030, when climate change has wrought destruction in Australia resulting in … well, you get the gist. It’s also a good read that deserves to be remembered.

Kim Mahood, Position doubtful

My next link is another cheeky one because we are taking a wrong turn and ending up in a doubtful position, or, should I say, in Kim Mahood’s wonderful memoir, Position doubtful (my review). It’s set in Australia’s Tanami Desert region and chronicles Mahood’s regular trips there to explore and understand her relationship to place, and how her relationship sits against that of the Indigenous owners.

Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Passionate nomad, book cover

We are staying in deserts for my next link but on the other side of the world. In other words we are going to the Middle East, with Jane Fletcher Geniesse’s biography, Passionate nomad: The life of Freya Stark (my review). Like Mahood, Stark spent a lot of time in the desert, and was, in fact, one of the first non-Arabians to travel through the southern Arabian deserts.

Charles Dickens, On travel

Freya Stark was a travel writer among other things, so my next link is to a writer who wrote about travel among other things, Charles Dickens. The book is a little collection of his essays on travel, titled On travel (my review)! In my review I wrote that “Reading these reminds me yet again why I love Dickens. I enjoy his acute observation of humankind and his sense of humour. He makes me laugh. Regularly. And then there is his versatile use of the English language. The man can write.”

Can you guess where we go from “versatile use of the English language” and “the man can write”, particularly given we are also talking essays? I think it’s pretty obvious, George Orwell. My link is Penguin’s Great Ideas selection of his essays titled Books v. Cigarettes. I have not reviewed the book, but I have reviewed four of the seven essays in it: “Books v. Cigarettes“, “Bookshop memories“, “Confessions of a book reviewer” and, just yesterday, “The prevention of literature“. I do love a good essay.

Last month I linked only Australian authors which I thought was a bit ethnocentric of me, so this month I did my best to leave Australia, with an American author (Geniesse) and two English ones (Dickens and Orwell) as well as three Australians. As often happens in my six degrees, four of the writers are women and two men. However, I can’t help thinking this is one of my weirder chains, but I had fun doing it.

Now, the usual: Have you read The bass rock? And, regardless, what would you link to?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2021 10:26

    Your first link? I do like it! Genius 🙂

    • June 5, 2021 10:53

      Haha Kate … glad you did. I thought of meany things but then that seemed too good to pass up!

  2. June 5, 2021 11:00

    I liked that first link too! And Storyland is such a GREAT book! I also love that essay collection by George Orwell.

    • June 5, 2021 11:22

      Thanks Kimbofo. I think that book did not get the recognition it deserved. It was such a good and interesting read wasn’t it?

  3. Meg permalink
    June 5, 2021 11:25

    Hi Sue, I have read Bass Rock and it was an okay read. I like your link, especially the first one. My link was predictable: An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire; The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle; Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty; Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen; Her by Gary Disher; and Invisible Women by Kylie Fox and Ruth Wykes

    • June 5, 2021 12:12

      Thanks Meg. I know most people really like The bass rock, but not everyone. I’d like to read it. Your link might be predictable but I like it – it’s a good link and I enjoyed the book! I’ve heard of all your books but the last one.

  4. June 5, 2021 15:18

    On Travel… hm… checking out your review now.

  5. June 5, 2021 19:32

    I love your first link – perfect!

  6. June 6, 2021 00:09

    I like your first link too! Nothing wrong with that!!! I haven’t read The Bass Rock, but think I might try it. Good links throughout and I particularly like your link to Dickens. I linked to him too. At the moment I’m reading Little Dorrit and I have to say that it is not one of my favourites – so long and ponderous – it’s taking me ages.

    • June 6, 2021 09:08

      Oh how great that someone else linked to Dickens, Margaret. I love it. I haven’t read Little Dorrit. Sounds like it doesn’t have the spark that many of the others have.

  7. June 6, 2021 03:01

    From these books, I’m most interested in Dickens’ On Travel. I’ve never heard of it (my ignorance) and from what you’ve written (from your review), it sounds so… modern. BTW, how’s your armchair travel coming along? I’ve just posted a suggestion too… to the Cannes Film Festival this July. 🙂

    • June 6, 2021 10:32

      I’m not surprised Arti, as this is a modern selection of essays that previously appeared elsewhere. I’ll home check your suggestion!

  8. George permalink
    June 6, 2021 07:46

    I have not read–had not heard of–The bass rock.

    But since it takes place on the Firth of Forth, degree one is Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson: the narrator and his friend, on the run from the law, have to find a way across without using the bridge.

    Degree two, staying with the theme of cold water and a hard life, will be Tomas O’Croghan’s memoir On the Island, about a life lived on Great Blaskett Island, off the western coast of Ireland.

    Degree three, just because, will be The Poor Mouth, Flann O’Brien’s takeoff on books such as On the Island.

    Degree four, moving west, will be Thoreau’s Cape Cod, a travel narrative from the days when there were no vacationers and Cape Cod was home mostly to fishing families.

    Degree five, continuing west to fresh water, is A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean: the fishing is for sport, but many of the fish end up cooked for dinner.

    Degree six, back at the ocean is John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row–the canneries can tuna, but the novel is about bums getting by with almost no money in the neighborhood.

    • June 6, 2021 10:36

      Oh good George, I like these, and I have even heard of or read a few of them. I like the sound of no. 3. Love that you stuck with water throughout.

      • George permalink
        June 6, 2021 10:42

        Some years ago, I lent a copy of On the Island to a co-worker. He greatly enjoyed it, so I next lent him a copy of The Poor Mouth. He greatly enjoyed that also, and it was a while before he quit saying “We will not see its/their/his/her like again.” I imagine you’d get a kick out it.

  9. June 6, 2021 21:59

    The first four in your chain really appeal but with three I’m struck again by the curse of following Antipodean bloggers – not a one is in the library, and only Position Doubtful available through my local bookshop.
    The Geniesse is nowhere to be found in library or bookshop, either.
    Probably a good thing. My TBR is still hovering around the 140 mark.
    I’ll note them down anyway, perhaps for additions as e-books.

    • June 6, 2021 22:25

      Yes, I know that most of my books tend to be Australian and that’s hard for others.
      I’m surprised about the Geneisse though as I’d have thought it would be in libraries. Anyhow, I know all about TBRs. It’s not as though there’s nothing else to read, after all!

      • June 6, 2021 23:05

        It saddens me that more Australian fiction isn’t available over here. Whether a book gets a UK release seems to depend on prize success.

        I can and sometimes do get the books I really want to read on my Kindle, but I’m trying not to put as much of my custom Amazon’s way as I used to, trying to support my local bookshop and my library service.

        And I was surprised about the lack of the Geneisse title within my library service, too!

        • June 7, 2021 08:57

          Yes, I understand all of that. Are ebooks, my policy is Aussie books in paper and overseas books in Kindle, trying to balance supporting bookshops with need to downsize!

  10. June 8, 2021 06:38

    Some clever linking as usual. Also, I totally forgot about that Dickens travel writing book. I haven’t read Dickens in ages, or Orwell for that matter, and now I am wondering when I might have time to slide them onto my reading pile. Darn it!

    • June 8, 2021 08:51

      Sorree Stephanie! Haha. Actually, I am thinking of trying to finish that little Orwell collection.

  11. buriedinprint permalink
    June 14, 2021 02:35

    I like how your list moved from super current to super classic in short order. The Bass Rock is one that I enjoyed (and reviewed for the Chicago Review of Books…without revealing even a single spoiler LOL) and that assignment occasioned my reading of her two earlier novels (great excuse to catch up with backlists while reading “new”).

    • June 14, 2021 09:20

      Oh well done re The bass rock Buried. I’m so keen to read it. I’m impressed that you also read her backlist. I read and enjoyed her Miles Franklin winner.

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