Six degrees of separation, FROM True history of the Kelly Gang TO …

Winter is icumen in! Can I say that? For many of you, it’s not that cold here in Australia, but in Australia, my city of Canberra is the coldest capital city in the country. It’s the only thing I don’t like about living here. But, we will survive. Meanwhile, we have things like blogs and memes to entertain us. So, let’s get onto this month’s Six Degrees. As always, if you don’t know how this meme works, please check meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book, and for April it’s a novel I’ve read, but not since blogging, Peter Carey’s award-winning True history of the Kelly Gang in which Carey tackles on of Australia’s big (bushranger) myths.

Courtney Collins, The burial

There are so many angles to take from here. One could be its unique syntax (and go to Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl woman other). Another I considered was titles that people aways get wrong. There is no “The” at the beginning of Carey’s title, but that led me down a path I didn’t have time to fully investigate. So, I decided to go with content, and choose Courtney Collins’ The burial (my review), because it is also historical fiction about a bushranger, albeit a women, Jessie Hickman, whom most of us had never heard of.

Arielle Van Luyn, Treading air

Now Courtney Collins made quite a splash with this novel in 2012, but we’ve not really heard from her since. Another novelist we’ve not heard from again (yet) – though her novel didn’t make quite the same splash – is Ariella Van Luyn, and her 2016 historical fiction, Treading air (my review), which also focuses on a real, albeit small-time, historical character.

Book cover

Next, I’m staying with historical fiction – and writers we’ve not heard much from – but the link I’m choosing is the Brisbane 1940s setting (though only part of Treading air is set in Brisbane). The book is Melanie Myers’ Meet me at Lennon’s (my review). Both books mean something to me. Van Luyn’s book is partly set in Townsville where my Mum was born. And, my Mum became a teenager in 1940s Brisbane and experienced the wartime Brisbane that Myers writes about. She also knew Lennon’s.

Book cover

But now, we’ve spent too long in Australia. I was going to say, in historical Australia, but I’m sticking with historical fiction and linking to another another World War 2-set novel, Emuna Elon’s House on endless waters (my review). Both this novel and Myers’ alternates between the present and a past mystery, but Elon’s also moves between the Netherlands and Israel.

Sawako Ariyoshi, The doctor's wife

We are staying with historical fiction – who knew I’d read so much of it – but I’m linking this time on the idea of translation. Elon’s novel was translated from the Hebrew by Anthony Berris and Linda Yechiel. Sawako Ariyoshi’s The doctor’s wife (my review), which tells of the Japanese doctor who developed anaesthetics for surgery, was also translated (from the Japanese) by two translators, Wakako Hironaka and Ann Silla Kostant.

Haruki Murakami, Blind willow, sleeping woman

My final link is a bit of a cheat, because it too was translated from Japanese by two translators, Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin. Its Haruki Murakami’s Blind willow, sleeping woman (my review). I say it’s a bit of a cheat, because this is a collection of short stories so it’s perhaps a little more understandable that there might be more than one translator. However, if you don’t like that, let’s just say the link is another Japanese authored work. Take your pick.

And thus, like last month, I am back to more women writers in my link, with five this month. We have, however, travelled a little, from Australia to Japan, via The Netherlands and the Middle East. We have spent quite a bit of time in the early to mid twentieth century, except that with Ariyoshi we did go back to the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. I can’t think of any real link between the starting and ending books except – and maybe this is a good one – both Carey and Murakami were born in the 1940s, and both have had significant writing careers.

Now, the usual: Have you read True history of the Kelly Gang? And, regardless, what would you link to?

39 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM True history of the Kelly Gang TO …

  1. Ha, I knew you would link to Courtney Collins’ novel after our discussion in my comment thread last month. Sadly, I did not accept your challenge of only linking to bushranger novels 😉 because I couldn’t really think of any I had read. But I also linked to Collins’ book and then my chain followed a bit of a rural policing theme.

    I haven’t read any of the other books in your chain. I like the sound of the two Queensland novels though.

    • Haha, kimbofo – I nearly changed my mind, but, then thought, why not!

      Those two Queensland books are really interesting I think. Perhaps not top literary fiction, but good reads that have stuck with me.

  2. Nice work, Sue. And I checked out your reviews of The Burial and Treading Air, both of which sound fascinating (I also have links to Townsville, where my paternal grandmother lived for a time). The Burial sounds like it would make a good film. Incidentally, re your point about novelists we’ve not heard from, I noted that Courtney Collins’s ms was shortlisted for then Vogel. I was surprised to learn that the vast majority of Vogel winners (somewhere around 70%, if memory serves) never go on to write/publish a second book. I wonder what this says about the duty of care extended to award-winning debut authors in our industry.

    • Yes, good question Angela re Vogel and emerging writers.

      And yes, The burial would make a great movie.

      Amazing how many little connections you and I have. I don’t know about you, but I still miss my Mum so much. And still feel I’m reeling from those months when both died.

      • I see you, Sue. I still miss both my parents so much. I found the build up to Mothers Day quite difficult and took things very quietly on the day. I often think of Mum and Dad when I read a book I know they would have liked…

        • Yes, me too. And of course I miss my Dad too. I still find myself wanting to tell them things that I know would interest them. With both our kids in Melbourne and my parents gone, I sometimes feel I am rattling around here a bit. Thank goodness for friends.

  3. Thank you for reminding me there is no ‘The’ in the book title – have just had to correct my post! 🙂
    I do like your travelling, of course – especially Japan!

    • Oh dear, Marina Sofia! It never occurred to me that that comment would have that result, but I shouldn’t be surprised I suppose. I’m glad because he did it for a purpose I think. Not “the” true story … if you know what I mean.

  4. I’ll choose Legs by William Kennedy as degree one. Legs Diamond was a gangster during Prohibition–I think he was Irish, though I never read enough of the book to be sure.

    As degree two, Jim Harrison’s Legends of the Fall, since one of the novellas in it involves rum-running during Prohibition days.

    For degree three, Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It, as being set in Idaho, one state west of Montana, where most of Harrison’s action lies. The organized crime touched on in the title novella is gambling, not smuggling.

    For degree four, Peter Matthiesen’s Shadow Country. It is set in Florida, but shares a component with Legends of the Fall, the WW I sniper who came home not quite right. And there is plenty of crime, but most of it in the past.

    Since we’re in Florida, degree five might as well be A Flag For Sunrise by Robert Stone. Such of the crime as is not state-sponsored is connected to gun-running to Central America.

    And rather than leave Florida, degree six will be Thomas McGuane’s Ninety-Two in the Shade, set in and around Key West. There is a gun-runner in it, but most of the crime has to do with person grudges.

    • Now this feels like a rely different chain to your usual ones George and Ned Kelly did it! I’ve had A river runs through it on my virtual TBR for a long time. Would you recommend it? I don’t read a lot of crime, though my next review will be a crime one.

      • A River Runs Through It is well worth reading, and is quickly read. I could wish that Maclean had started writing fiction earlier in life. A River Runs Through It is not crime fiction, though there is a crime in it.

  5. It’s great to hear about more Australian authors – I’m aware that I spend most of my time reading Scottish, English and some American ones, not even Welsh ones, which I am aiming to put right soon as I have just discovered a great blog about those.

    I like the sound of Meet Me at Lennons, I’ve added it to my wish list.

    • Thanks Rosemary. I think we all get stuck in little reading ruts. I love that a few commenters have picked up on Meet me at Lennon’s. There are a couple good Welsh blogs, that I know of. What blog have you found?

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