First Saturday of the month, and it’s time for the super monthly tag Six Degrees of Separation, which is hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is:
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
I’ve not read this novel, but remember when it went on to win the Booker Prize for a second time for Carey in 2001. The Kellys were notorious horse thieves, bank robbers and police-killers, but were popularly seen as Australia’s version of Robin Hood! The gang was formed of Ned and his brother Dan, later joined by two friends. The brothers link will take me to:
The Sisters Brothers by Peter DeWitt
Imagine The Blues Brothers’ Jake and Elwood relocated to Deadwood and the ‘Frisco goldrush of the mid-1800s, directed by the Coen brothers and you have this fabulous novel which was my book of the year when it was first published in a nutshell. (I’ve still not managed to see the film!) They’re on a mission for the Commodore, (rather than God) hired as hitmen on a target in SF. The story is narrated by Eli, who like Elwood, is the thinker of the pair. It becomes clear as the story goes on, that Eli is not happy with their gun-for-hire way of life – he’s ready to find a wife and settle down. Charlie is a different kettle of fish; he’s a cold-blooded killer and when he’s not on a job, he drinks and whores. They’re so different in character, yet Charlie knows how to rouse Eli’s temper and protective instincts towards his brother to make the pair feared throughout the wild west. The novel is slick, hilariously funny, inevitably sad, and very quirky, as well as being extremely strong visually. Just loved it and must re-read and still adore that cover. I shall stay with brothers which leads to:
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen
We move to the 1930s at the height of the great depression, millions are out of work and bands of bank-robbing outlaws are regarded as folk heroes in the USA. Former public enemy number one, John Dillinger, has recently been sent to his grave and stepping up to the top spot on the G-Men’s wanted list are the infamous Firefly Brothers.As the book opens, Jason and Whit Fireson wake up to find themselves laid out on tables in the morgue. They’re both riddled with bulletholes, they should be dead but somehow they are inexplicably alive … So the Firefly brothers get a miraculous second chance. Beyond the gangster fun, Mullen explores the hard times that punctured the American Dream and produced the bad boy heroes. The Fireson family dynamics and the sibling rivalry between the brothers features strongly and gave this period-thriller solid substance which made it a pleasure to read. My next link is through the title to:
Firefly by Henry Porter
Henry Porter’s thrillers are solidly plotted, full of action with great lead characters. Firefly, had a great tagline on the front cover of my ARC, ‘The prey – a boy genius. The predator – a deadly assassin.’ Once I started reading Firefly I sped through its 470 pages in one extended reading session. I had to know what happened to the refugee teenager who is at the crux of the story and the ex-spook who is brought back by MI6 to find him in a cat and mouse chase through the Balkans. I’ll move from title to author for my next link:
The Death of Francis Bacon by Max Porter
Porter has emerged through his three novellas, of which this is the third, as one of our foremost experimental writers. In this book, Porter imagines the last days of the Dublin-born British artist in seven word paintings who died in a hospital in Spain after a heart attack, tended to by nuns. It’s brilliantly done, but it did send me scurrying off to read up a little about Bacon first so I could understand Porter’s references and allusions to his paintings. Another Francis is:
Recovery by Dr Gavin Francis
Published under the Wellcome Trust imprint, this short non fiction book is all about how we recover from illness, and the road back to good health. Francis is a GP, and in this insightful mix of essays with a touch of memoir and wisdom from the ages, he examines all the aspects of recovery, beginning with his own after breaking a leg and earlier suffering meningitis. He looks at recovery in hospitals and the permission to recover granted by the sick note, moving on to look the maxim ‘a change is as good as a rest’ which goes from travel to spas and convalescent homes plus the nature cure. He also considers the ‘ideal doctor’ and unusual convalescent treatments. This is a thoughtful little book with much good advice within its pages. Another ‘Dr‘ is:
Enough. by Dr Cassandra Coburn
Subtitled ‘How Your Food Choices Will Save the Planet’, this book takes a whole Earth approach to looking at our diet, taking in the impacts of climate change and what we are doing to our environment for food and farming to make the case for eating more healthily and sustainably. Her book is based on applying the findings of the ‘Planetary Health Diet’, (PHD) a key worldwide research programme published in 2019 by EAT-Lancet (find out more here.) Throughout each chapter, the primary focus is on the environmental impact of each food type, then the nutritional and health follow through. There is a logical progression that if you produce a better food more sustainably, that it’ll be better for you in every regard and the planet too. Enough. gives food for thought, a more holistic approach to health and diet with some thought-provoking insights and figures. I want to read more of this kind of book.
My six degrees have taken me far and wide this month, in locations and subjects.
Where will yours take you?