Saturday 8 November 2014

Six Degrees of Separation

Emma & Annabel host this fascinating meme each month where we are challenged to connect 6 books to the same pre-selected starting book.

This month the starting point is Joy Fowler's We Are Completely Beside Ourselves.

As it is AusReading Month I will attempt to make all my 6 degrees Australian!

I have yet to read We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, but from reviews I've read I know that the story features a chimpanzee. This instantly brings to mind the amazing, provocative, startling story, Wish, by South Australian author Peter Goldsworthy about an ape.

Another South Australian Goldsworthy, although no relation, I believe, is Kerryn Goldsworthy. She wrote a nostalgic, informative memoir called Adelaide as part of the NewSouth Books City series.

Over the years Kerryn has been on the judging panel for the Miles Franklin Award and more recently, for The Stella Prize. As the chair of the Stella Prize, she had this to say about this year's winner Clare Wright, for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.

"A rare combination of true scholarship with a warmly engaging narrative voice, along with a wealth of detail about individual characters and daily life on the goldfields, makes this book compulsively readable. It has a highly visual, almost cinematic quality, with vivid snapshots and pen-portraits of goldfields life. It also moves briskly from one scene or character to the next, with variations in pace and mood, in a way that heightens anticipation and suspense even though we know about the violence that will eventually explode as the tensions between the miners and the forces of officialdom increase to a point beyond containment."

This non-fiction narrative about the life of women in the Victorian goldfields leads me to my current classic fiction read, The Getting of Wisdom, by Henry Handel Richardson.

Set in the late 1800's in Victoria, our young protagonist, Laura Rambotham is sent to a private boarding school in Melbourne. As Laura leaves her country town she describes the view from the coach window...

"The very last house was left behind, the high machinery of the claims came into view, 
the watery flats where Chinamen were for ever rocking washdirt in cradles."

Another private boarding school story - set in more modern times though - is the heart-warming but tragic Looking for Alibrandi by Marlena Marchetta. This is a tender coming of age story decidedly & proudly set in Sydney's Inner West.

Which leads me to my last Australian book, also set in the heart of Sydney's Inner West - St Peters. My Place is now a modern day classic picture book by Nadia Wheatley that depicts the history of a house & its inhabitants from 1788 until 1988.

It's always fascinating to see where everyone else's 6 degrees has led them as well as being a great way to send your TBR pile spiralling out of control!

The December starting point is Richard Flanagan's, Booker Prize winning book, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.


  1. I really like this meme. It is such a creative way to think about books.

    It is really neat the way that you have linked these Australian authors together.

  2. Anonymous10/11/14

    I love your all-Australian chain. My current work-in-progress features a spider-monkey so I'm collecting a list of fiction fetauring primates, and didn't know about Wish, so thanks for that. I ADORED Looking for Alibrandi too.

    1. Ohhh that sounds intriguing Annabel. If I think of any more primate stories I will let you know.

    2. Do children's books count - there is Curious George, Caps for Sale and Anthony Browne's One Gorilla off the top of my head.


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