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Six degrees of separation, FROM Postcards from the edge TO …

August 7, 2021

I love August. It’s still winter but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and when I say “light” I mean it literally as suddenly, it seems, we start to see the lengthening days. We also know that the first spring blossoms are about to give us joy. These are pluses because in fact August, September and October here can have some really cold days with winds coming off the snow … but summer! It’s not far off! Now though, I’ll get onto our Six Degrees of Separation meme, which, as most of you know is run by Kate, and explained on her blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule, of course, is that Kate sets our starting book. This month it’s a book I’ve not read, though it’s been around for a long time, Carrie Fisher’s Postcards from the edge, which was published in 1987. For some reason, I’ve always thought it was a memoir, but it’s actually fiction, albeit semi-autobiographical. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who Carrie Fisher is, so I’ll just move on to my next link.

Helen Garner, Postcards from Surfers

I can’t resist going for the obvious this time – and linking on the title – because it gives me an opportunity to share a short story collection from a favourite author, Helen Garner’s Postcards from Surfers (my review). I could cheekily suggest it’s a double link because, like much of Garner’s fiction, this collection has autobiographical elements.

When I review short story collections, I often comment on the title, because some are given an original title while others are titled for one of the stories in the collection. Garner’s collection is one of the latter, and it is on this that I am going to link, and go to Adam Thompson’s Born into this (my review). The titular story is perfect for the collection because the stories are all about the lives First Australians are born into.

Cate Kennedy, Australian Love Stories cover

It was at this point of my research for this Six Degrees that I decided to focus on short stories, so all my links will be short stories. For the next link, I’m delving into the collection. One of the bolder stories in Born into this is titled “Honey”. One of my favourite, and cheekiest stories in the Australian love stories anthology edited by Cate Kennedy (my review) is Carmel Bird’s “Where honey meets the air”.

Next I’m linking on form. By this I mean that Australian love stories is an anthology of stories by different writers versus one writer’s collection as we’ve had to this point. My next link then is to another anthology, Love on the road 2015: Twelve more tales of love and travel edited by Sam Tranum and Lois Kapila (my review). The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted another double link, this time on the theme – love.

Book cover

Love on the road was published in Dublin and contains stories from around the world, so we are going to stay overseas. However, just in one place, Mumbai, and one writer, Jayant Kaikini’s No presents please (my review) which was published in Australia by Scribe. It’s so good to see small Australian publishers bringing books like this to our shores.

Penguin collection, translated by Garnett, book cover

My last link is to a single short story, Anton Chekhov’s classic The lady with the dog (my review). Can you guess what the link is? I’ll give you some marks if you say because it’s set overseas, but I chose this particular overseas-set story because, like Jayant Kaikini’s collection, I read it in translation!

I know some of my readers here aren’t short story lovers so these links won’t thrill them much, but for the rest of you, I hope you see some collections or anthologies that you know or that appeal to you. I did my best to take us a bit around the world.

Now, the usual: Have you read Postcards from the edge? And, regardless, what would you link to?

34 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2021 10:21

    I read Postcards from the Edge and still say the movie was actually better…there aren’t many books I can say that about! I haven’t read Postcards from Surfers and will look it up. I’ve also read Postcards by Annie Prouxl. Have you thought about reading my book, Postcard Poems?

    • August 7, 2021 12:00

      Ha, Jeanne, I’d forgotten about E Annie Proulx’s book.

      Re your book, I’m sorry but I had missed that I’m afraid – I’m not keeping up very well at all these days. I’m not sure what the costs are for getting it to Australia? The site doesn’t make that clear I think? I don’t read a lot of poetry, but your collection sounds appealing and up my alley.

      • August 7, 2021 22:08

        If you’ll email me with your address, I’ll see that you get a copy of Postcard Poems.

  2. Meg permalink
    August 7, 2021 10:37

    Hi Sue I have read Postcards From the Edge, I am sure my mother persuaded me to read it. I do like your links, My links: Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher; She Love smiles and acid drops: Letters from a difficult Marriage by Jane Sinclair; Gilead by Marilynne Robinson: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields; The Diviners by Margaret Laurence: and A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

    • August 7, 2021 11:11

      Oh, I love your second link Meg! Good one. And the rest too. I’ve read Gilead, The yellow wallpaper and The stone diaries, and know Tyler of course. I don’t actually know Sinclair but the title is great.

      Did you enjoy Postcards from the edge, do you remember?

  3. Meg permalink
    August 7, 2021 12:22

    Hi Sue, I think enjoyed Postcards from the Edge. It was a long time ago, so probably at the time I did. The Jane Sinclair book I picked up from the library (just before lock down). The book was on the “new books” stand and the title grabbed me; and possibly I was thinking of Postcards from the Edge. (I usually link books with ones I have read, but this one I haven’t yet read).

    • August 7, 2021 12:33

      I have books like that too, Meg – ie that I think I remember liking (or not) but can’t really remember the details. That’s one of the good things about keeping this blog. The ones I read here I can check exactly what I thought!!

  4. August 7, 2021 12:24

    I haven’t read or watched Postcards from the Edge, but I love the title Postcards from Surfers! Brings to mind the fun movie Endless Summer. Great job!

  5. August 7, 2021 14:00

    Your link between the two ‘Postcards’ books made me smile. I’ve read and enjoyed both and agree that they have a double link. It’s good to see short story collections getting some attention, too!

  6. August 7, 2021 15:55

    This will surprise you, Sue, but I have No Presents Please on my TBR. My hand actually hovered over it this week, but I was looking for #WomenInTranslation for #WITMonth, so it’s been passed over again!

    • August 7, 2021 16:16

      It does surprise me Lisa, but I’m glad of course! And oh, I should try to read something for this month … maybe I can find a short story to squeeze in.

  7. August 7, 2021 17:55

    Ah, but I just ADORE good short stories. They’re so satisfying to read, if done right. Fantastic chain (and didn’t I do one chain with a bunch of short story connections… I forget)!

    • August 7, 2021 23:05

      Oh did you Davida? So many chains it’s hard to keep track but I know I enjoy your chains. I’, glad you are another short story lover, anyhow.

      • August 8, 2021 01:34

        Very much so! Recently I went to put some books in the free public library that’s in my neighborhood and I found a copy of Zadie Smith’s “Grand Union: Stories” and I grabbed it. I’ve always wanted to read her books so that will be my first!

        • August 8, 2021 08:52

          Oh, good find Davida. I havent read any of her short stories. I did read White teeth and have always meant to read more.

  8. August 7, 2021 19:27

    I haven’t read Garner’s short stories yet but I’d like to. Nice chain!

    • August 7, 2021 23:09

      Thanks Cathy. I think you’d enjoy them if you ever had the chance, but I know the problem!!

  9. August 8, 2021 04:51

    “I know some of my readers here aren’t short story lovers so these links won’t thrill them much”

    On the contrary, I always think I should read more short story collections, so I’m glad to see them mentioned. Also, I’m in the U.S., and I’m always interested in how people from other countries refer to their original inhabitants. Here we use the term Native Americans. Canadians speak of First Peoples. But I had not heard the term First Australians before. Thanks for this interesting chain.

    • August 8, 2021 09:20

      Thanks Mary. I’m loving hearing from short story enthusiasts.

      And thanks for commenting on terminology. I have been wondering if Native Americans is still the preferred term in the USA. I’ve lived there twice and law that was the term in the 1980s and 1990s. Here there have been many terms. I think the most recent one, and the one I’ve used through most of this blog, was Indigenous Australians, but First Nations Australians seems to be the preferred term now. It certainly makes some political parts that the previous term didn’t.

  10. George permalink
    August 8, 2021 10:24

    Degree one is Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust, one of the earlier Hollywood novels, and still referred to. It is set in Hollywood, and most of the characters are somehow connected to movies, or wish they were.

    Degree two is The Most of S.J. Perelman. Perelman was West’s brother-in-law, for one thing. For another, he wrote some of the funniest pieces about Hollywood. The book consists mostly of short pieces.

    Degree three is The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, a mystery set on the edges of the movie business–as I recall, the first person to turn up dead is a script writer. Chandler and Perelman were on good terms, and Perelman spoke well of what Chandler wrote about the script-writing business.

    Degree four is The Underground Man by Ross MacDonald, another Los Angeles mystery, but without any relation to the movies.

    Degree five is Love Among the Cannibals by Wright Morris. It is set to start with in the Los Angeles area, on the edges of the entertainment business, but in this case the music business.

    Degree six will have to be Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays, again in Los Angeles, again around the movies.

    I have not read Postcards From the Edge. I did read somewhere that Carrie Fisher remarked that nobody told her, when she signed on to appear in the Star Wars movies, that she was signing a contract with the adolescent and pre-adolescent males of America to remain forever the same age, weight, and looks.

    • August 8, 2021 11:14

      Thanks George. I love that you’ve stayed in the Hollywood-LA area, and with a couple of authors I know! The Most of SJ Perelman sounds particularly appealing to me.

      Poor Carrie Fisher – you just can’t always crystal-ball-gaze into the future can you!

      We went to our local symphony orchestra last night. It was the CSO goes to the Cinema, and the opening piece was the Star Wars suite. Seemed apposite.

  11. August 8, 2021 22:47

    I like your chain although am unfamiliar with all but the last title. The Chekhov, however – I remember thinking he should gawk at someone else!

  12. August 9, 2021 12:34

    What serendipity! I was actually holding this book, Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog just 10 mins. before I read your post, thinking if I should read it next (it has been on my shelf for years!)
    0 degree of separation. 😉

    • August 9, 2021 15:15

      Haha love it Arti. Those little connections are a hoot aren’t they. Did you decide to read it next?

      • August 10, 2021 07:49

        Choosing between this one (related to The Bros Karamazov which I just finished) and a Dorothy Sayers mystery, and then there are other attractions… 🙂

  13. August 11, 2021 01:23

    Postcards from the Edge, now that’s a blast from the past. It’s actually a quite good book. As always, enjoyed your links!

    • August 11, 2021 10:15

      Thanks Stefanie … yes, from what I’ve read I’m more intrigued by it than I had originally been under my original assumption!

  14. August 11, 2021 15:08

    Great chain! You had me at love stories. I enjoyed your review it. I really want to read “Dawn.”

    • August 12, 2021 11:07

      Thanks Koo … it’s a great story. I remember feeling on quite a high when I finished this collection. It is so lovely, so varied.

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