Six Degrees of Separation: The Dry

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 titles will take you to my reviews. So without further ado, our starting book this month is …

The Dry by Jane Harper

One of the best debut crime novels of recent years, The Dry is set in the searing heat of the Australian outback. Good characters, realistic setting and a rollicking plot – I loved it. Now, for my link – I’m going to set a pattern in motion here, you’ve been warned. The opposite of dry is wet, which leads me to…

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Ballard’s first novel, published in 1962 is a dystopian eco-thriller, set in a mostly submerged London, only the penthouse suites remain above the waterline. The Drowned World is certainly a visionary novel. Stylistically, it is a real hybrid – reading like Graham Greene meets Conrad via Ian Fleming with the philosophical realisation of Richard Matheson’s The Incredible Shrinking Man as protagonist Kerans accepts his fate. Kerans is a leading man typical of any Graham Greene novel – clever but burned out at forty, yet fit enough to take action.  Now, for my link – continuing the pattern – the opposite of wet is dry, which leads me to…

Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

A multi-stranded narrative that comes together in the Californian desert, Kunzru’s fourth novel is marked by the clarity and honesty in how he portrays his various character’s lives. There’s a couple, Lisa and Jaz with an autistic child who goes missing, a British rock star addled by excess who runs away from the recording studio, and an refugee Iraqi teenager who has a job as a ‘villager’ in a military simulation to acclimatize US troops before their deployment. Their stories too converge in the desert out near the rock formation known as the Pinnacles, as do those of many through the ages. We hear from many different people whose stories climax in the desert –  from a Spanish missionary in 1775, to the beginnings of a cult in the late 1950s through to its early 1970s incarnation as a commune dedicated to the Ashtar Galactic Command. His canvas is broad, but the writing is as searingly hot as the dense desert heat and as cool as the starry night-time sky. It’s stunningly good. Link time: The opposite of dry is wet, which leads me to…

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

Another dystopian eco-thriller set upon the water! It’s the near-future; the world as we know it is broken. Five hundred specially selected people escape the hell of the dystopian society left on land to live on ‘The Ship’ and the alternative nightmare of being on an everlasting cruise.  The story is narrated by Laila, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the charismatic leader of the 500. Abounding with biblical references, this was a superb debut novel – I’d love to know what happened next!
Link time: The opposite of wet is dry, which leads me to…

Equilateral by Ken Kalfus

We’re in the Sahara Desert this time in the 1890s. Professor Sanford Thayer, a British astronomer is excavating in Egypt’s Western Desert, but not for archaeology.  Having secured funding from a consortium led by Sir Harry named the Mars Concession, he is making something quite new, one of mankind’s greatest ever construction projects – to carve an equilateral triangle with sides over 300 miles long in the desert, emulating the canals on Mars described by Giovanni Schiaparelli. They’re on a tight time-frame to get the work done before Mars comes into opposition again and they can attract the attention of those canal-builders. It is epic grand Victorian folly, but there is a human story underneath with a moving conclusion. A rewarding read. Link time: One again, the opposite of dry is wet, which leads me to…

Ramage by Dudley Pope

We chose this book for book group having decided to pick a ‘naval’ novel. Ramage is the first in a long-running series. Set in 1796, 3rd Lt Ramage awakes from being concussed to find he’s in charge of a sinking ship – the only course left to him – to evacuate onto lifeboats and surrender will lead to a court martial but will save lives. Ramage will find friends and enemies amongst the British naval hierarchy, but, like Hornblower et al, will live to sail another command and have a jolly good career. This book was written in 1965, and thus predates Patrick O’Brian. It was eminently readable and very good fun! One more link time: The opposite of wet is dry, which leads me to…

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris

This is still the only crime novel I’ve read that is set in Saudi Arabia. The mutilated body of a woman is found on a beach at Jeddah.  Detective Osama Ibrahim initially suspects it is another housemaid murder, something that happens all too often in this city. However, one of the forensic lab techs, Katya, a young woman who is quietly ambitious, discovers that the body was no servant, but that of Leila Nawar. Leila was a student and was making a secret film project about sexual attitudes and exposing the contradictions prevalent in this society. Katya is determined to be part of the investigating team, and when Osama needs a female to question Leila’s best friend, for propriety forbids him from doing so, she’s in.  However, she continues on with the investigation outside work with her friend Nayir, a desert scout. The combination of strong characters, a fascinating setting, the different culture, and the lure of the desert, made this an irresistible crime read, I must read her other two.

So from the dry outback to wet London to the dry Californian desert to two examples of wet shipboard life via the dry Sahara before ending up in dry Arabia – this has been a journey of opposites for me this time. Where will your six degrees take you?

20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: The Dry

  1. Elle says:

    Annabel, what a clever linking strategy! And what great books you highlight here—I’m really fascinated by The Drowned World, Gods Without Men, and City of Veils, and agree that The Ship is an excellent theologically informed eco-dystopia.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thank you! All three of those books are brilliant. (I’ve not read a duff Ballard yet).

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I do love having fun with the links! I agree the Kalfus was superb, and it has stayed with me well.

  2. Margaret says:

    I love your themed links – very clever! I haven’t read any of these books. Gods without Men sounds so good – so many strands to keep in mind. It’s very tempting.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I really enjoyed Gods Without Men – it had a dystopic/anarchic feel to it that went down well with me!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I linked the first one, then got stuck when inspiration struck – ha ha! 😀

  3. Helen says:

    Great chain. I used ‘the opposite of dry’ for my first link too, but I love the way you continued with that theme for the whole chain!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’ve already planned something fun for next month too linkswise – I love doing this!

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