Another month has gone, and we in Canberra, New South Wales and Victoria are still in lockdown. However, with vaccinations proceeding apace, the end is in sight, we hope. On the plus side, it is spring, and the blossoms are out – and daylight savings starts this weekend which I love. I know that for some of you, though, it is autumn. I hope you are having a good one. Meanwhile, let’s get onto our Six Degrees of Separation meme, which, as most of you know, is run by Kate. Check her blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest – to see how it works.
We start, of course, with the book chosen by Kate except that this month it is a short story, Shirley Jackson’s much studied, much anthologised “The lottery”. And, because it is a short story, I did manage to read it (my post).
My first link is an obvious one, another short story with a shocking ending, Kate Chopin’s “Désirèe’s baby” (my review). I’m a big Chopin fan, which started when I read her novel The awakening. Anyhow, our starting short story and this one make powerful statements about human cruelty, and both, coincidentally, start by describing lovely days!
Chopin’s story involves a baby and racism. Another book in which a baby is unwittingly related to brutal, racist behaviour is Nardi Simpson’s Song of the crocodile (my review). It’s a novel by a First Nations Australian, so its ambit extends beyond Chopin’s, but it is this baby who grows up and forces this novel’s shocking denouement.
For my next link, I thought I’d move away from grimness, except I then realised that this next book also has racism at its core! However, my link is on the author’s career, because Nardi Simpson had an established singing career before she became a novelist. The author of the book I’m linking to is also a well-recognised First Nations singer, but his book is a memoir, Archie Roach’s Tell me why: The story of my life and my music (my review).
I’m sticking with musical memoirs for my next link. It is a travel memoir by a musician who, bravely to my mind, cycled across Europe and Asia, from England to Hong Kong, with her violin. The book is Emma Ayres’ Cadence: Travels with music (my review).
Most Australians know Emma Ayres, as she was a much-loved presenter some years ago on ABC Classic FM. Most of us also know that, after she left that job, she went to Kabul and soon after that transitioned to Eddie Ayres. He wrote about this process in his book Danger music. However, I haven’t read that, but I have read Sarah Krasnostein’s The trauma cleaner (my review), an award-winning biography of a transgender woman, Sandra Pankhurst.
Now, what to end on? I think a short story might be apposite, and there is one that I read back in my first year of blogging that might fit the bill, though, back then, I gave less attention to my short story reviews than I do now. The story is Tessa Hadley’s “Friendly fire” (my post). I’m linking on the protagonists who are two middle-aged women cleaners in an industrial warehouse, Pam who owns the cleaning business and her friend Shelley who is helping her out for the day. The main focus is Shelley, and her thoughts about life and family, particularly about her son who is in the military in Afghanistan, which might give you a clue about the story’s title. I read it online, but it has been published in a collection called Married love, hence the cover I’ve used.
So, this month I have at least come full circle in terms of form. We have also travelled quite a bit, given one of the links is a a travel memoir, and we have, I’ve realised, met a few cleaners, as Nardi Simpson’s novel involves house cleaners and washerwomen. Perhaps, I’m giving myself a hint!
Now, the usual: Have you read “The lottery”? And, regardless, what would you link to it?