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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?