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.