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True History of the Kelly Gang

True History of the Kelly Gang
Peter Carey
368 pages

First sentence: By dawn at least half the members of the Kelly gang were badly wounded and it was then the creature appeared from behind police lines.

Reflections: Ned Kelly was an Australian outlaw bushranger in the 1800s. His Irish father was convicted of a crime and sent to Van Diemen's land. The family settled in Australia after his release. Ned was forced into adulthood at an early age, and was sent to be an apprentice to another bushranger at the age of 15. From there he fell into a life of crime, and gained notoriety by consistently eluding capture. However, he also remained fiercely loyal to his large family, especially his mother and brother.

Peter Carey recounts Ned's life story in Ned's own voice, complete with the grammatical anomalies and lack of punctuation that might be expected from a semi-literate young man. The story is compelling and the character development, wonderful. Ned Kelly is a violent criminal, and yet very likeable. I actually found myself cheering him on in his escapades with the police.

True History of the Kelly Gang reminded me of other "outlaw" tales, like the story of Jesse James, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This is not a subject that I'm particularly interested in, and I only read this book because it won the Booker Prize in 2001. I was not disappointed; in fact, I found this book absolutely delightful and difficult to put down. Peter Carey is one of only two authors to win the Booker Prize twice (the other is J. M. Coetzee). Now I can't wait to read his 1988 Booker winner, Oscar and Lucinda. ( )


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 1st, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
I loved that book! I don't think I had really heard anything about it before I read it, so it was a complete surprise. It's on my list of favorite reads this year.
Nov. 1st, 2007 03:05 am (UTC)
Well, I guess there is no doubt I'm gonna love this one when I get to it ;) Thanks for the review!

Nov. 3rd, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the great review. I've got this in my tbr stack and didn't really know what to expect. Sounds like I'm going to love it.

Nov. 3rd, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this book too. At first, I had to write in the periods and commas so that I could understand the writing (Kelly has no formal education and the book is written with no punctuation). But as I kept reading, I was able to just sink myself into the writing and not worry about punctuation. Carey is an AMAZING writer!
-Em (www.emsbookshelf.blogspot.com)
Nov. 3rd, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
I love this book (much more than Illywhacker, one of his other novels). Glad you liked it!

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )