Six Degrees of Separation: Passages by Gail Sheehy

First Saturday of the month, time for the super monthly tag Six Degrees of Separation, which is hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books chosen.

This month our starting book is…

Passages by Gail Sheehy

I know nothing about this book which was apparently a bestseller in the self-help genre in the 1970s. Moving swiftly on… what is another word for ‘passage’ – a ‘snicket’ of course, which takes me to…

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I got fed up of this series by around book six, but I did love the first few which I read with my daughter who was the right age for them back then. We also listened to the first one as an audiobook which was read by Tim Curry – who has the perfect voice for it! We both loved the movie which combined the first three books even more, with Jim Carrey as Olaf, plus Billy Connolly, Meryl Streep, Timothy Spall and more – but the three children were super in it. Before you ask… no, I haven’t watched the TV series with Neil Patrick Harris. Should I? I’d rather not spoil fond memories of the movie – they should have made more.

Anyway, for my link this time, I shall invert the word ‘Unfortunate’ which leads me to…

The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico

Back in 2017, I was delighted to be on the official shadow panel for the Sunday Times Young Writer Award, and this volume of linked short stories set over a twenty year period in the politically unstable situation in Colombia was our winner! The stories are all the more powerful for us meeting some of the characters more than once, from a captive Professor teaching Hamlet to a guerilla group in the jungle to a teen home-alone when hitmen come looking for her father, these stories have bite and are stunningly brilliant.

My sideways link is to turn from Julianne to Julian…

Duffy by Dan Kavanagh

Duffy is the first of three noir novels written by Julian Barnes under a pseudonym. Duffy represents an author having fun, freed from conventional literary constraint. This book is filthy! We are thrust into a seedy world of 1980s Soho full of porn shops and replete with villains and bent coppers with an equally unconventional private eye, bisexual with a penchant for Tupperware! Fabulous – and reminds me I need to read the other two books.

I’m staying with Duffy, so we go to…

The Night Interns by Austin Duffy

As we all know, the lot of the junior doctor is overworked and underpaid, but nothing will put more fear into a junior doctor’s heart than having to phone their registrar or consultant at night, when there is a skeleton crew of young doctors managing the whole hospital, especially when you’ve worked a day shift already. Duffy’s novel explores such a trio of doctors in a Dublin hospital – and what happens when something goes wrong. A brilliant short novel that captures that terror perfectly.

Austin is the state capital of Texas, so we’ll cross the Atlantic to…

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

There are two ways to read this novel: firstly, you can just dive straight in and enjoy it without thinking about the significance of the place-name in its title, or, you can give yourself a knowing smile and keep an eye open as you read for all the resonances in its pages. I did the first, devouring this complex tale of six days (plus flashbacks) in the life of a very dysfunctional Texan family, and then I remembered what the blurb said about Greek and Roman mythology, and started working back to see how it all joins together. That was definitely a good approach for me and I’d recommend it for you too.

Another sideways link for my final one – Olympus is a camera brand, as is Canon…

The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh

Now republished in Canongate’s ‘Canons’ series – see what I did there(!), I finally read this novel last summer, twenty years after I’d added it to my shelves. Welsh’s debut is simply brilliant, with the most amazing lead character, Rilke, who is tall, thin and gay – an auctioneer by trade in a Glasgow auction house, who comes across a stack of very nasty porn during a house clearance valuation and feels compelled to discover what happened to the girl in the pictures. Why it took me until Welsh wrote a well-received sequel to pick this wonderful book up, I don’t know!

My six degrees have crossed the Atlantic a couple of times this month, coming to rest back in Scotland, with trips to Colombia and Texas via Soho and Dublin and the imaginary city of the Baudelaires in Lemony Snicket.

Where will yours take you?

12 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Passages by Gail Sheehy

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    I know what you mean about the Lemony Snicket books but I did enjoy reading the first few ones with my children and quite enjoyed the TV series as well.

  2. A Life in Books says:

    I haven’t read many of this month’s chains yet but your first link will be hard to beat! Great to see both the (sobering) The Night Interns and The Second Cut, too.

  3. Davida Chazan says:

    Love your sideways links here! By the way, did you read the sequel to The Cutting Room? It is called The Second Cut, and I liked it better than the first one. Her genre really isn’t one I get into, but I fell in love with her writing with a novella she wrote Tamburlain Must Die, and well… sometimes I do read outside my comfort zone!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks. I have The Second Cut to read soon, I hope. Love Louise Welsh’s books – Tamburlaine was a hit for me too.

  4. mallikabooks15 says:

    What fun to see Lemony Snicket as your starting point! I haven’t read all the books, in fact all random ones that i would pick up second hand every now and then. but found them great fun but not when read back to back. I still need to find out what the VFD really was 😀 The Night Interns though is one I hope to get to sooner than the other Snickets. Great chain

  5. margaret21 says:

    My ‘children’ are just too old to have read Lemony Snicket, and indeed I don’t know th other books in your interesting chain either, though all look interesting enough to be worth more than a second glance.

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