Daily Archives: September 2, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation: From ‘Where Am I Now?’ to ‘Sex and Suffering’

A few of the blogs that I follow join in with the Six Degrees of Separation meme, hosted by Booksaremyfavouriteandbest .  I gather, if I’ve read it correctly, that everyone starts off with the same book. Participants then make mental leaps to name six other books that they’ve reviewed on their blog. [See Sue’s comment below – it doesn’t have to be reviewed on your blog]. This time the meme starts off with Mara Wilson’s Where Am I Now?

Well, I hadn’t even heard of the starting book, or of Mara Wilson. But the little girl on the front looked familiar- and of course! It’s Matilda!

Her surname is Wilson, and she shares it with Rohan Wilson whose book The Roving Party fictionalizes John Batman, the putative founder of Melbourne as he bashes his way through the Van Diemen’s Land bush to ‘conciliate’ the remnants of the Plindermairhemener people in 1829.

A non-fictional approach to that same John Batman (and yes, that really is his name) is taken in Bain Attwood’s Possession, which closely examines Batman’s ‘treaty’ with the indigenous people of Port Phillip, and the uses to which the Batman/Fawkner ‘discovery’ story has been put in Melbourne historiography.

A more famous book called Possession, written by A. S. Byatt won the Booker Prize in 1990.  I’ve read it, of course, but that was before I started writing this blog. Hilary Mantel was one of the judges and so naturally we mentally leap to Bring up the Bodies, her not-yet-completed trilogy about Thomas Cromwell.

The topic of bodies is linked to death, but death seems to evade the old colonel in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch, as he wanders his decrepit palace, wanting to die but somehow waking up again the next morning to start all over again.

Two other patriarchs, on different sides of the American ideological chasm over abortion in present-day America are found in Joyce Carol Oates’ A Book of American Martyrs.  Dr Gus Voorhees is shot for his pro-choice activities, and Luther Dunphy, an evangelical Christian, is the man who shot him.

The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne delivered babies, but it also tried to save the lives of women whose abortions had been botched or incomplete. Janet McCalman’s Sex and Suffering is a history of the hospital, from its earliest days in Melbourne.

What an odd place to finish up! That was rather fun.