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. Our starting book this month is:
Wintering by Katherine May
This isn’t really my kind of book, but I love the cover. It’s subtitle though ‘The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times’ led me straight away to a rather different book about someone seeking rest…
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
I disliked this book intensely, but it was compelling reading. It follows the life of one young woman in New York, who is insulated from having to work by her inheritance. An only child, she is now an orphan. Left alone, she decides to hibernate, literally, rather than face up to life. She dupes her psychiatrist into prescribing every pill in the manual to help with with her feigned insomnia. Most of the chapters begin with her waking up and coming to...
Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson
… Which is something that Christine does every morning to a man and house she can’t remember. After a horrific car crash she has severe amnesia, but she is unable to make new memories too; as she sleeps her brain wipes her experiences from that day clear away. Each morning she has to find herself again – her memory stops in her twenties, but she is now 47. Her doctor asks her to keep a secret journal which she can find each day, and gradually fragments of memory reappear, and she starts to uncover the nasty truth about what really happened to her. This was a gripping psychological thriller about amnesia.
Then by Julie Myerson
Myerson’s 8th novel Then is set in an unspecified near future in the city of London. We don’t know what caused everything to stop at 9.22 (clever!), but the air burned and darkness came, fires blazed, then everything froze. The story of a small group of survivors, who are holing up in one of the glass fronted office blocks on Bishopsgate, is told by a woman who is obviously suffering from Amnesia brought on by PTSD. A compelling but depressing dystopia responding to 9/11.
Dead Air by Iain Banks
The Protagonist of Dead Air is Kenneth Nott, a shock-jock at a commercial radio station in London. It begins on September 11th 2001, Ken is at a friend’s wedding reception in a loft apartment in the East End. Just as Ken and friends start to have fun by throwing things over the balcony onto the abandoned car park below, phones start ringing and they turn the TV on to see the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in NYC. My link is via Nott’s profession in the radio business.
Ghosting by John Preston
Preston’s (of The Dig fame) debut is the story of Dickie Chambers, a radio announcer, who moves into the new world of television in the 1950s. His suave and polished performances as a charming presenter hide a dark side to his personality, caused by childhood trauma, which eventually reveals itself leading to his fall from grace. Preston charts his descent into depression and schizophrenia with a sympathetic touch, giving us hope that Dickie will eventually manage to pull himself out of the darkness, while sparing no punches about its effects. A gripping and accomplished first novel. The world of TV is my link to…
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
… which is the story of a TV comedy series and all the people involved in making it. It’s about being creative, the value of teamwork and star-making; it’s also about class, age, and popular culture, with the perennial subject of everyone needing someone to love threaded through the narrative. The main protagonist is Barbara Parker from Blackpool, who moves down to London and auditions for a new comedy show. What was so great about this novel was that Hornby didn’t choose an edgy show to focus on. He went the cosy route, creating a middle-class comedy about a northern lass marrying a southerner and the trials of their everyday life in the suburbs – a bit like a younger version of Terry and June. Funny Girl unashamedly celebrates a golden era of light entertainment, very enjoyable.
My six degrees this month, started in New York, then moved to London from its near future before working back to the 1950s. Where will your six degrees take you?