Six Degrees of Separation – to and from Peter Carey!

Six Degrees of Separation is the brainchild of Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best where we all start with the same book and see where our links take us!

Follow the hashtag #6degrees on Twitter to check out everyone else’s chains!

This month the chain starts with Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel from 2000, True History of the Kelly Gang. The novel gives voice to the legendary criminal and Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. To the authorities in pursuit of him, outlaw Ned Kelly is a horse thief, bank robber and police-killer. Nevertheless, to his fellow ordinary Australians, Kelly is their own Robin Hood. In a dazzling act of ventriloquism, Peter Carey brings the famous bushranger wildly and passionately to life.

Another possible criminal is brought to life in See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt’s debut novel that recasts the fascinating case of Lizzie Borden – who may, or may not have murdered her father and stepmother – into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love. In that novel, Schmidt dramatizes the moment when Lizzie Borden’s father kills her beloved pigeons.

A pigeon massacre also takes place in Douglas Stuart’s latest novel Young Mungo. This coming-of-age narrative depicts an emotional yet dangerous love affair between two young men, Mungo and James, growing up in working-class Glasgow in the early 1990s.  The pair are star-crossed lovers in a city besieged by gang violence and riven by the sectarian Protestant-Catholic divide.

A different side of Glasgow is also on display in The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh. When Rilke, a dissolute and promiscuous auctioneer, comes upon a hidden collection of violent and highly disturbing photographs, he feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a journey into the darkest recesses that lurk behind respectable facades.

An auctioneer with more nefarious intentions features in Joan Samson’s 1970s horror classic The Auctioneer. In an isolated New Hampshire farming community where little has changed over the past several decades, John Moore and his wife Mim do their best to maintain the family farm and live a modest, hardworking life. However, from the moment the charismatic Perly Dunsmore arrives in town, soliciting donations for his auctions, the community of Harlowe slowly and insidiously starts to change. Soon the townsfolk find themselves gradually but inexorably stripped of their freedom, their possessions, and perhaps even their lives.

Bad things happening in small towns is a feature of another classic horror tale The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. In a small American town, the local residents are abuzz with excitement and nervousness when they wake on the morning of June 27. Everything has been prepared for the town’s annual tradition—a lottery in which every family must participate, and no one wants to win.

A lottery features in one of the stories in Peter Carey’s 1993 collection The Fat Man in History. The stories in this collection all pose different questions and are all set in the near future, after an unspecified revolution in which the social and political world has changed. In the story The Chance, physical beauty is now seen as an unacceptable privilege and people can entire a genetic lottery where they are assigned a more grotesque and ugly body.

So there we have it, from Peter Carey via dead pigeons, auctioneers and lotteries and back to Peter Carey again, these are my 6 Degrees of Separation for May! Have you read any of these books or are there any that take your fancy?

Six Degrees

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

22 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’m impressed that you started and ended with Carey — particularly given you are not even Australian! And another Australian in there too. Well done. I’d like to read See what I have done. I heard a discussion of Douglas Stuart’s new book on the radio the other day, and it sounds excellent. Anyhow, great chain.


  2. Well done.

    True History of the Kelly Gang was a good read. As an aside, it was sad but true that the bosses could get the Irish wages via alcohol and the Chinese wages back via gambling.

    The “turn” in The Lottery was so well done.

    I found The Cutting Room insidiously unsettling.


  3. A great chain Cathy, but quite dark for sure. I have read none of these, including the starting book, but I am hoping to read it this month. My chain went in a very different direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic chain here. That Schmidt novel was amazing, wasn’t it? Oh, and have you read the sequel to The Cutting Room – The Second Cut. I reviewed it on my blog recently. Really good (and a bit less grisly than the first one)!


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