Monday, 11 October 2010

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

Okay, I didn't finish this one but I did get two thirds of the way through so I suppose it's worth a write up.

Ned Kelly is the Australian Robin Hood, famous for wearing a home-made suit of armour, so I was really looking forward to some iron-clad bush-tucker craziness. To my dismay this isn't a trashy outback western, but a Booker Prize winner.

Ned himself's a nice guy, always trying to do the right thing, but everyone around him continually shits on him. He's of Irish stock so the colonial police think he's criminal scum. Then his mum sells him to the world's crappest highwayman. Even then it takes a hell of a long time for him to become an outlaw. He should've started taking care of business a long time before.

This is largely about social injustice (well, this is set in the past - there was a lot of it going about) Irish roots and Australian wildlife and geography. It's like one of those Bob Dylan folk songs about outlaws, and it is pretty good, but I found it too dull to finish. Too much whiney-whiney, not enough shooty-shooty.

This was a book on tape, so I've abandoned it for Winston Churchill's history of the First World War. On the paper book front I dumped the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when I realised I'd seen the film, in favour of some massive sci-fi by Peter F Hamilton.


Anonymous said...

This is a favourite of mine which I've read twice. Harry Power is a hilarious character and the climactic shootout, which you missed, is exciting too. But what I like the most is Ned's voice with its disarming and distinctive rhythm and timbre. The bizarre discussion of transvestism among the Irish peasantry is entertaining too.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I've been reading Churchill's epic on and off for about a year now. I started with the second volume and am now very slowly slogging through the first. I recommend an abridged version.

Joe said...

I did enjoy the blackface trannies - I wonder if it's similar to the African fighters who put on dresses to confuse the bullets? Liberian warlord General Butt-Naked tried a different tactic, but for similar reasons. I'd probably know if I finished the book. May still do so - haven't given it back to the library yet.

Yeah the Churchill swings between fantastic and stultifyingly boring. Abridgement sorely needed.

Oh, and I got a Victor Pelevin at Aberdeen library! It's about Minotaur etc - Helmet of Something. Possibly Doom.