Not worth the hype
The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
This won the Booker Prize a while ago, and I wanted to see what the hype was about. It tells the Ned Kelly accounts from the point of view of Ned himself, with the context of his upbringing and background, with the aim of creating sympathy for him. It’s a book that screams ‘I’m worthy’ because it is written in the style of an unschooled person, with little punctuation. I’m guessing the Booker Prize winners loved that, but I just found it tiring to read. The beginning and end are riveting storytelling, and it raises interesting questions of who gets to define truth, and how far we can trust the narrator. As someone unaware of the Ned Kelly stories, I found it fascinating to hear of the abuse of power by the English settlers in Australia who oppressed the Irish. It also makes a magnificent character out of the land of Australia itself; a hostile environment that refuses to be tamed.
However, like Santa Claus, it had an interesting beginning and end, and a very flabby middle – if I hadn’t had to read it for a book club I would have abandoned it.