True History of the Kelly Gang [2000]

So, I’m about twenty minutes of reading away from finishing Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang. So far, my impression is not favourable: far from it. It has been a difficult book to get through because it is written as if by Ned Kelly himself, based on some letters he apparently wrote in real life. He has only a loose understanding of tenses and syntax and almost none of punctuation beyond the need for a full-stop every so often. I marvel at the amount of effort and care which must have been expended to create such a uniformly difficult book to read.

It is however, terribly interesting. The difficulty of the language and the awkward narrative “structure” somehow combine to illuminate the character of Ned Kelly and his perspectives on his life story far better than almost any first-person narration I have ever read. I can see why it won the Booker Prize in 2001, while being unable to shake the feeling that Carey’s technical achievement nevertheless fails in every way to create a work of literature from which enjoyment can be gotten.

Perhaps the last few pages will put all to right… but I doubt it.

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10 Responses to True History of the Kelly Gang [2000]

  1. “Oooh, in one last moment of bragging: Got an A for my 40% Spenser assignment!”
    Congratulations! πŸ™‚

  2. “Oooh, in one last moment of bragging: Got an A for my 40% Spenser assignment!”
    Congratulations! πŸ™‚

  3. Anonymous says:

    i just gave up! Decided that I really wasn’t all that interested so Ned Kelly could fade into oblivion. By way of an aside: The jail they hael him in is now an antique shop.
    NJS

  4. bowdlerizer says:

    “Carey’s technical achievement nevertheless fails in every way to create a work of literature from which enjoyment can be gotten.” Precisely the problem with all his books. Too Mr Clever. I’m struggling my way through Illywhacker at the moment, just for fun (ha, fun!). At the same time there is something in his books that keeps drawing me back (probably not True History again, however) I think it’s his sense of sly.

    • mashugenah says:

      Re-reading my sentence… it’s pretty bad.

      I haven’t read anything else by him, but based on this, not gonna. πŸ™‚

      • Anonymous says:

        Some people I have discussed books with are of the opinion that anything that wins the booker prize will be crap. Anything nominated, that doesn’t win, is worth a look.

        Chris

  5. Erm. I don’t suppose I could hitch a ride with you to the frisbee practice tomorrow? Ian Galloway Park is a pain to get to from where I live and I didn’t have time to make a vote before Michael decided there were no objections.

    Can’t make the game on Tuesday, though, as I have to go off on a work thing for a couple of days.

    Steph

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