Six degrees of separation, FROM Hydra TO …

Oh my, oh my, I have not written a post since Monday. I am so focused on downsizing and packing, and everything else involved in selling a home, that I’m not getting much time for anything else – and when I do finally get time, all I want to do is fall asleep on my nice, new sunny bed (if it’s still the afternoon that is.) So, let’s just move on from all this, and get onto Six Degrees. If you don’t know how it works, please check host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book. In May – to sound like a broken record, it’s another book I haven’t read – Adriane Howell’s debut novel, Hydra. I like the sound of the setting – the protagonist works in antiques (where the current focus, as many of you will know, is mid-century furniture, the sort my parents bought!) However, my first link will not relate to this, but to …

… something pretty obscure but that gives a little air to a different sort of work. Adriane Howell, besides being a novelist, established a literary journal a few years ago. It’s called Gargouille, is published in printed form, and was created with Sarah Wreford. Another literary journal was established by two women a few years ago, albeit an online one, Cicerone. Its focus is emerging writers and the founders are Nancy Jin and Rosalind Moran. Jin and Moran also published an anthology under the Cicerone banner, These strange outcrops: Writing and art from Canberra (my review), and that’s my first link.

I met Rosalind Moran in 2019 when she successfully applied for the New Territory Blogger program. The other successful applicant that year was Shelley Burr whose debut novel Wake (my review) was published last year, to significant acclaim in the crime writing world (and beyond.)

Wake is a debut crime novel in a rural setting – rural noir is one name for its genre. Another debut rural noir crime novel is Delia Owens’ Where the crawdads sing (my review). I could have chosen an Australian one, but felt it was time we sailed to other shores, so was pleased to find a relevant link that we could travel to.

I’m afraid, however, that my next post brings us back to Australia – at least as far as the author is concerned, but not in setting. My link is on titles starting with “Where the”, and the book is a children’s picture book written by Irma Gold and illustrated by Susannah Crispe, Where the heart is (my review). It is set in South America, and concerns a penguin.

Penguins, of course, have a special attraction for readers! And so it is to the publisher Penguin, and their Popular Penguins series of cheaper classics that I’m linking to next. The book I’ve chosen from the many possibilities is Randolph Stow’s Merry-go-round in the sea (my review).

Gabrielle Carey, Moving among strangers

At this point I had planned to take us over the seas again, but things can change quickly … and instead, my final link is by way of a little tribute to a lovely Australian writer whom we lost this week, Gabrielle Carey. Carey made her name with the autobiographical novel Puberty blues which she co-wrote with Kathy Lette, but she then went on to write very different works, nine in fact. One of these was a sort of literary memoir about Randolph Stow, that was inspired by her family’s connection with Stow. The book was Moving among strangers: Randolph Stow and my family (my review). Carey also wrote a thoughtful, enjoyable bibliomemoir about Elizabeth von Arnim which I’ve reviewed, and was apparently working on a book about James Joyce when she died. It’s all very sad, and I pass my condolences onto her family, friends and the wider literary establishment which appreciated what she had to offer.

So, let me just close there. Vale Gabrielle Carey.

Now, the usual: Have you read Hydra? And, regardless, what would you link to?

40 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Hydra TO …

  1. I believe you are drawing longer and longer bows, you wicked woman !! [grin]
    But on you final, serious note – vale Gabrielle, indeed ..

  2. Hope the downsizing is going well! It can be a wrench and mentally exhausting deciding what to keep and what to throw away.

    Interesting chain… Merry-go-round in the Sea is a favourite of mine. And what said news about Gabrielle Carey. I read Puberty Blues back in the day … well, in my early teens anyway, and it wasn’t dissimilar to life in a country town, just swap the surfing for football and it’s the same old misogynistic story 🙄😡

      • I can’t get it out of my mind. I don’t know if you saw the last piece she wrote published in the Herald, but it was heartbreaking.

        • No I didn’t Sara … can you point me to it? I don’t subscribe though to the SMH, just to The Canberra Times (and the Guardian app, and the Monthly and Saturday Paper apps. There’s a limit!) I guess I now understand a little more about her Only happiness here book.

        • I’m not sure how – other than to Google Gabriel Carey Sydney Morning Herald 2023. I think it was a couple of months ago. In it she stated that she didn’t think her superannuation would last for much longer, and that she was forced to sell her house (she loved her garden) in a falling market. It was frightening to read. I texted her straightaway and fear that my words could barely touch the depth of her depression and never heard back. I knew her sporadically since the 1990s and a couple of years ago she came to visit me in Manly with Yumna Kassab who had been her student at UTS. I was in the middle of a nightmare trying to relinquish my US citizenship which was eating up a substantial chunk of my savings in accountancy fees ( I have no super) and my text was to the effect that you do pull through these black times but I hadn’t explained what my issue was all about. She was also needing money to publish her book on Joyce. I knew her but never even knew she was a Joyce scholar. And I keep thinking how property prices have since soared – especially here in Sydney, capital of soaring house prices. And that there was no need …

        • I did try that Sara but only found articles on her death and pre-2023 references.

          All this puts more into perspective the impetus for her writing Only happiness here.

          This super business is terrible, and the challenges faced by older women in particular – as you are clearly aware. I am so lucky that I started work in the public service in the mid-70s and had Super from the start. I didn’t fully understand it then but by the time I had kids I realised that keeping my job and working part-time if I could would also keep my Super chugging along. Getting the part-time was a challenge in the PS at the time as there were no protocols for managing it, including the Super, so at one stage my job-sharing friend and I were working half-time, taking leave-without-pay for the other half-time (filling out forms every fortnight!), and paying full Super. In retrospect, that was no bad thing, but we both had partners in full employment so could manage on those incomes.

          I was surprised to hear about the Joyce, though didn’t know her at all, but I gather it is going to be published?

          All so sad.

          PS Our son has US Citizenship and we understand it is hard to relinquish. I had an American friend once who thought she had relinquished hers only to be told when she turned up in the US on an Australian passport (for her sister’s wedding) that she was American. But that was a long time ago now. And I can’t recollect what happened next.

        • Sorry you haven’t been able to find it. But the essence of it was clear. As for my American citizenship, I renounced it in 1972 when I took out Australian citizenship. But the law had changed when I was going to Canada and I was advised to get it back so I could go back and forth to LA from British Columbia. As it was I’d been wrongly advised and there was no need at all. I’ve had to file an annual US tax return ever since (the only other country to require this of expats being Eritrea). This was compounded after 9/11 when Bush brought in his Patriot Act., with two additional troublesome forms to fill (we have different financial years). When the interest rates were slashed I lost considerable income so invested part of my savings in a mutual fund. That was wise except when it came to the Yanks., because they needed extensive reporting on that. A new accountant picked this up and I had to pay for new returns for three previous US financial years. And although I finally ceased being a Yank last year I still have to do the forms for the part of it when i was plus yet another form. I haven’t lived in the US since 1958 and receive no social security. I tell you, it’s been an absolute nightmare but I couldn’t leave it to my kids to pick up the mess.

        • Exactly Sara. This is why we are doing our big downsize now. We just couldn’t leave it to the kids. There’ll be enough to do when the time comes as it.

          I’m interested in the tax filing business because I read there were exemptions if you live elsewhere like our son. But he never earned money in the USA so maybe he’s a different situation. I can just imagine what you’ve been through. Having lived in the USA twice we know a little bit about the pain of double filing and different tax years.

        • You can file for extension of the June 15 deadline but not exemptions. Even if you haven’t earned money in the US.

        • Hmmm … I guess our son will need to research this a bit more. All ridiculous given he was born there, left when he was 1 year old, and then lived there again from aged 6-9. But the law isn’t sensible is it?

  3. You always introduce me to new books and authors to check out. Actually, I have read one of these – Where the Crawdads Sing, which is definitely rural noir. I loved her beautiful descriptive nature writing.

  4. I rarely ever find that I’ve read the starter book. It is sad news about Carey, but I didn’t know about her book on Von Arnim who is one of my favourite authors, so I am going to be looking that up.

  5. I’m in Bendigo as you know so will be skipping #6degrees this month, but I share your sentiment about Garbielle Carey.
    We lost Mark Raphael Baker too, his book The Fiftieth Gate is unforgettable.

  6. Well, dealing with the Hydra was one of Hercules’s labors, so degree one will be to Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Myles, a breezily-written recent work of history, which says a certain amount about Hercules and his Phoenician/Punic identity Melkart.

    Carthage did not stay destroyed, and degree two will be St. Augustine’s Confessions, which state among many other things that he came to Carthage, where his sins seethed about him.

    St. Augustine did not stay in Carthage: he made it as far north as Milan, where he taught, and where St. Ambrose baptized him. Degree three therefore will be The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal, which opens in Milan.

    The hero of Stendhal’s novel complicates his life by riding off to take part in Napoleon’s 100 days, in the course of which he sees a bit of Waterloo. So degree four will be Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, which expends ninety pages (unless it was nine hundred) on a digression concerning Waterloo that could have occupied ten or so and still served the plot equally well.

    Les Miserables also devotes excessive space to a digression on convents (fifty pages? a hundred?). Therefore degree five will be the novel Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, which talks a certain amount about the Discalced Carmelites nuns in away that makes it clear that he did not know that they are a contemplative order, not a nursing order: his research into the Discalced Carmelites appears to have begun and ended with looking at Bernini’s statue of St. Teresa of Avila.

    Verghese is a physician (and much better at memoir than fiction), and sets much of the action in hospitals. Degree six will be Stay of Execution: A Sort of Memoir by Stewart Alsop, which tells of his life and of his losing battle with leukemia, with much time, as I recall, spent at the National Institutes of Health near Washington.

    I have not read Hydra

    • You made me laugh George with your Carthage did not stay destroyed and St Augustine did not stay in Carthage intros!
      Not to mention your commentary on long winded barely relevant descriptions.

      I should read the Stendhal but I have read Cutting for stone. I think indeed that I’ve just decluttered it off to the charity shop. I enjoyed it … for the medical stuff in particular … but I’ve not remembered much beyond that.

  7. I downsized from a house into a unit recently Sue – moving is exhausting. I’d already decluttered and streamlined my belongings and this was a good chance to do even more – it does feel wonderfully freeing to live more simply. I’m sure you will love it once you’ve settled in! I have friends who have left it too late and are now caught in big homes with large gardens and they can no longer cope with a move . I’m relieved I’ve done it now. Parting with books is tough though!

    • Oh thanks Sue. Good for you. I think you are right. I love my things including my books but I have been feeling weighed down for all the stuff I have. I do think I’ll enjoy living more lightly.

      We were determine to a) not leave it too late; and b) not leave it all to the children. I don’t think that’s right.

  8. Moving is always hard but moving and downsizing is even harder!

    It’s always sad when a beloved author dies. I have a few “last books” on my shelf that I haven’t been able to bring myself to read.

    Your linking is fun as always!

    • It is Stefanie … our last movie was upsizing so it had all the usual hallmark stresses of moving but without added stress of knowing we will not be able to fit everything in, In that move, there was space for everything and then some!

      Glad you found the linking fun! Thanks so much for commenting.

  9. Moving is always hard but moving and downsizing is even harder!

    It’s always sad when a beloved author dies. I have a few “last books” on my shelf that I haven’t been able to bring myself to read.

    Your linking is fun as always!

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