Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
This month’s starting point is a book I’ve not read. I haven’t seen Peter Weir’s acclaimed film either. I struggled to think of a good link – I’ve used Joan London before for instance, I couldn’t think of a picnic book, but then I thought to search for Lindsay and bingo! So my first link is to:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
This is the first in the Dexter series of books, which I read several of pre-blog. I’ve consulted my trusty spreadsheet and I wrote the following about it:
Having seen the superb TV series, you are compelled to compare and contrast it with the original novel, which was pretty closely adapted for the first half; you can certainly picture the actors in the book. The ending however is very different, and without giving the game away, too nasty for the TV! It also sets up the sequels of which there are now two – I shall read them. Ultimately I did enjoy the TV series more – with its amazing star who makes Dexter a character you almost have to love. The book however, with its confessional first person narrative is a fantastic new take on the serial killer genre.
My link is going to be through that confessional first person narrative which will take me to:
The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato
I read this in 2011 (and reviewed it here on my old blog). Sabato, who was one of the greats of Argentinian literature, had just died a couple of months short of his 100th birthday, This novel is narrated Juan Pablo Castel,an artist, convicted for the murder of Maria Iribarne. He decides to tell the story of exactly what happened between them – not to offer explanations, but in telling the details of their relationship, that people could understand him. He claims it is not out of vanity, but it is clear from the start that the man has a monstrous ego, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
My link, however will be through South America & Spanish which leads me to Chile and
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra
I’m always really drawn to experimental fiction, even if I don’t always get on with it, so once spotted, I was always going to have a go at this book. I know nothing about the author, but Zambra, I gather, is one of the stars of Chilean writing. This book is structurally based entirely on the real test that Chilean students take to get into High School – multiple choice questions and comprehension exercises. It was book with a serious gimmick that didn’t quite work for me, but another book with a gimmick which I liked is…
Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway
At first glance you might write this book (reviewed here) off as chicklit with a gimmick – for it is written in an A to Z format with entries under key words and phrases. The longest entries are no more than a couple of pages, and they’re all cross-referenced with an index at the back too. This may seem to imply that the novel could be read in any order by jumping back and forward following the references, however you would miss the layers of nuance and subtlety building up – and a real sense of anticipation that things are going to happen.
I rather enjoy stories told in vignettes, and another absolutely cracking one is:
Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell
Published in 1959 (reviewed here), and set between the wars, Mrs Bridge is the story of a Kansas City housewife. She’s married to the well-off but workaholic Mr Bridge, and they live in a nice suburban house in a nice area of the city. They have three children each separated by a couple of years, Ruth, Carolyn and Douglas. Her story is told in a series of 117 vignettes, which vary in length from a paragraph to a few pages. Each chapterette is perfectly structured – like a little short story, with its introduction, development and ending.
Mrs Bridge is one of a pair of novels. Connell followed the wife’s tale with the husband’s in Mr Bridge giving another perspective on the same events. So my final link is to another novel with a companion volume that gives a different PoV:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
This time-looping novel (reviewed here) was a huge hit with me. It could have been another Groundhog Day, but wasn’t. In Ursula’s story – in each life she lives until she dies, then starts again at birth, unaware of her past lives except for an occasional sense of déjà vu at critical moments which enable her to do things differently. Ursula has an adored young brother, Teddy, and he tells his story in the companion volume A God in Ruins (which I own, but haven’t read yet!)
So those are my links for this month. Where will yours take you?