Six Degrees of Separation: The Naked Chef

First Saturday of the month, and it’s 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.

This month our starting book is…

The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

When Oliver’s first TV series aired in 1999, it was an instant success. His blokey pared-down ‘pukka’ style endeared him to the nation and made him a rockstar equivalent in the world of cooking. He now the second-best-selling British author, behind J. K. Rowling, and the best-selling British non-fiction author since records began – outselling even Delia (according to Wikipedia). And as the assortment of covers in my collage above shows, he was a bestseller outside the UK too! I had this book and its sequel, but in all honesty I use cookbooks rarely, except Nigella for baking and Delia, so I got rid of them. I’m going to stick with the rockstar feel throughout, but shall specifically go with an obvious link from naked in the title to:

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

One of Jamie Oliver’s endearing traits was that he was slightly rock’n’roll in a way, loving pop music, so it’s great to move onto another author with rock’n’roll in his soul, and one of Hornby’s more underrated novels about a lost rock star called Tucker Crowe, a superfan and his partner – Duncan and Annie. Their relationship is failing and when the demo sessions from Crowe’s best album ‘Juliet’ are released as ‘Juliet, Naked’ that is the catalyst for change in all of their lives. Duncan raves about it, Annie hates it preferring the honed final version – things get worse, especially once Crowe replies to Annie’s tweet about it. As a companion piece to the wonderful High Fidelity, Juliet, Naked could be seen as the next chapters in the lives of Rob and Laura. The main characters here being that bit older and needing to do that last bit of growing up with their mid-life crises make this a wistful and bittersweet book which will surely resonate with more mature music fans!  Another novel featuring a former rock star is…

The Heart Broke In by James Meek

The Heart Broke In, which I read ten years ago, tackles the subject of sibling rivalry, primarily seen through the eyes of Ritchie Shepherd, a rock star turned TV producer, and his sister Bec a malaria researcher. Sibling rivalry might sound a small theme, but this is a big novel, and Meek takes an expansive as well as microscopic examination of the lives of Ritchie and Bec by looking through the lens of love and betrayal…  It builds up so there are just too many secrets, lies and barriers to communication in Ritchie and Bec’s families. The dam is going to break and they are forced to choose between love and betrayal. Ritchie and Bec are well-drawn characters and the dynamics are complicated. I’m going to stick with ageing rock stars for my next link to…

Espedair Street by Iain Banks

Banks’ fourth novel, and his first non-genre one is a big favourite. It’s the story of Dan Weir known as ‘Weird’ who was the bass player in a successful rock band that imploded. He’s rich and famous but struggling with life and as the book opens is contemplating suicide – but he doesn’t go through with it. It’s now the 1980s and he tells the story of his band and the drug and booze-fuelled 1970s, and gradually comes to terms with his life. I must re-read this one. Another rock novel set in the 1980s is…

Slow Motion Ghosts by Jeff Noon

Noon’s first police procedural introduces us to DI Hobbes and is set in 1981. Hobbes is called to the murder of a young man who was singer in a tribute band to glam rock singer Lucas Bell, who had committed suicide in the 1970s. Hobbes is forced to delve deep into Bell’s life and the personality cult that grew up around him, to discover that many of those around him back then are still part of his mythos now. Hobbes is a wonderful detective, with an existential side to him that, given Noon’s previous novels (e.g. Vurt) is very welcome. My link will be dead rock stars, which takes me to…

The Ruins by Mat Osman

I do hope Mat (the Suede bassist and brother of the even more famous Richard) writes more novels – for I loved The Ruins. It is a novel about identity, seen through the eyes of a pair of identical twins who, on the face of it, as have as un-identical minds and lives as can be imagined. But, as you may imagine, they are closer to each other than they realise. As the novel begins, Adam discovers that his twin brother, Brandon, was not only married with a son in the USA, but was in London – and very dead, gunned down in broad daylight, and had abandoned his family to return to London to make a comeback album. The mystery behind Brandon’s lost album is a labrynthine one, deftly woven into a web of literary and musical influences that shine a light on the trials and tribulations of song writing and recording processes, and Adam will have to become Brandon to sort it all out! From one rockstar author to another, my next link is…

Naked at the Albert Hall by Tracey Thorn

Thorn serves us up an enticing mixture which includes snatches of memoir, interviews with other singers, the mechanics of singing, ruminations on what it means and its power. Going from how she discovers her own voice, to the mechanics of singing, literary singers, her favourite singers, singing styles, mike technique, vibrato, why we sing, and stage-fright – dysphonia, which she has lately suffered from. Naked at the Albert Hall is an engaging look at the world of popular singing. It was not Thorn’s intention to cover any one topic in depth; instead we breeze through many areas in this light-hearted book. She explores her art with wit and warmth, and thoughtfully she still marvels at the power of song and the voice.

My Six Degrees have taken me through the showbiz world of rock ‘n’ roll in novels to a non-fiction memoir which ends up linking back to ‘Naked’ again. Where will your six degrees take you?

14 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: The Naked Chef

  1. Davida Chazan says:

    OMG… Juliet, Naked – I read that book but never reviewed it. Did you see the screen adaptation of it? I think I watched some of it – maybe all. I forget! Great naked chain here!

  2. Helen says:

    Great chain and well done for finishing with another Naked title! Mat Osman has a new book out next year called The Ghost Theatre, which I requested from Netgalley yesterday, but it sounds completely different from The Ruins.

  3. Mareli Thalwitzer says:

    Gosh but this month’s chains are the most interesting I’ve come across in ages!! So many great and creative chains.

    I haven’t read any of the books on your chain, but they all seem very interesting.

    Have a great November.

    Elza Reads

Leave a Reply