My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.
Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month our starting book is:
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
As Kate said last month, “we’ll begin with a niche non-fiction book that you probably haven’t read but has a COVID-timely title”. She’s right, I haven’t read it, but it does sound fascinating – a call to slow down, to appreciate interiority, to appreciate the space around us more and enjoy it in a way that different, I imagine to Timothy Leary’s ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out.’ Although I would now like to read this book, I’m still wound up like the Duracell bunny, and so my links are all going from the ‘Nothing’ or no thing in Odell’s title to something, or some things…
The ‘Extraordinary Things’ of the title are the exhibits in Professor Sardie’s scientific exhibit – not a freak show he insists – at Coney Island in the early 1900s. His teenaged daughter Coralie, who has webbed fingers and spends her days in a tank as a mermaid, tells her story and that of her friends including the hirsute Mr Morris, the Wolfman. Alternating with Coralie’s story is that of Eddie, a young photographer, who also sees life through his lens differently.
The ‘Lost Things’ are little items lost by people which Anthony, a writer, collects and uses to inspire his short stories. When he dies, his assistant Laura is asked try and rehome them. There is another related story in a previous timeline too. This debut was a big hit, but I found it rather overwritten in parts.
It’s hard to know which are the ‘True Things‘ in this novel, the disturbing story of a bored, young woman who enters into what becomes an abusive relationship with an ex-con. It begins with dangerous sex in a car park, and increasingly alienates her family and friends from her. Dark, pacy and emotionally manipulative, this was a great debut that was hard to love, but unputdownable.
Plenty of ‘Strange Things‘ have happened to Stewart Copeland in his life – his time with the Police is but a small part! His life has been very exciting, from childhood in Beirut, playing with Kim Philby’s son, to playing polo against Prince Charles – with loads of music, composing and film-making in between. This memoir is brilliant fun.
Oliver Postgate had a different way of ‘Seeing Things‘ that led to him and Peter Firmin creating many timeless children’s TV series back in the 1960s and 70s. His autobiography is a delightful read, and he is a modest man, however much he protests:
I am always delighted when people tell me how much they enjoy the films, but I am not being modest when I say that I did not create that joy. The ingredients are everywhere, I was just the cook.
In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
I read Auster’s 1987 novel pre-blog. It’s quite different to most of his others, it’s a dystopia with a female protagonist who goes in search of her brother in the doomed City. I really want to re-read this one. So that’s my ‘Last Thing‘ this month!
Where will your six degrees take you this month?