Six Degrees of Separation: Wolfe Island

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 – the starting book is:

Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar

This book hasn’t been published in the UK yet, but Treloar’s debut, Salt Creek was well thought of. I shan’t delay – moving straight on with Island as my link to:

Bad Island by Stanley Donwood

This new graphic novel by Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood has no words at all, but tells a cautionary allegorical tale following the life of an island that is made bad in beautiful linocut pictures full of detail. My link shall be via Stanley to:

Holiday by Stanley Middleton

This novel was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974. It’s a rather strange book – man leaves his wife, goes on holiday, has a fling, bumps into his in-laws on holiday too… and I shall say no more. It felt rather dated, and written in a rambling style all in the main character’s mind was distinctly underwhelming! Holiday is a good link though to:

Lazy Days by Erlend Loe

What is it with novels about writers on holiday? They go on holiday/retreat to get more of their book written, but don’t as writer’s block takes over. This Norwegian comedy had a sparring husband and wife with some quite vicious arguments. The dialogue was well done. Writer’s block will link to:

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

Bradley Pearson is an author of high literary renown who has enjoyed success in the past, but in his later years suffers from writer’s block.  Arnold Baffin is an inferior author whom Bradley had mentored, but has had runaway success over the years. Bradley has a severe case of jealousy over this! Over 400 pages of intense Murdoch full of literary reference and more made it a tough but ultimately rewarding read. Writer’s jealousy will lead us to:

My Purple-Scented Novel by Ian McEwan

This is a short story, published as a single to celebrate McEwan’s 70th birthday. It is deliciously wicked – a story of literary betrayal and professional jealousy. It shows that McEwan had huge fun in crafting this story. Rather than go with purple to link – I’ve gone with scent – which leads to:

Parfums by Philippe Claudel

Subtitled, a catalogue of remembered smells, Claudel’s memoir has 63 short chapters mostly of two or three pages, four at most – each headed by a particular smell. From Garlic to Cannabis, Clean Sheets to Prison – each vignette evokes a particular time in his life. They are mostly, but not all, from his childhood. The majority of new odours that we encounter for the first time during our lives will be as children. These occasions form very strong memories, which can be recalled instantaneously when we recall a smell later – they provoke a conditioned response from our emotional brain. Wonderful.

This month, my six degrees have gone from islands on holiday to Norwegian and French titles, via a lot of writer’s block and jealousy. Where will your six degrees take you?

14 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Wolfe Island

  1. Margaret says:

    Great chain of books I haven’t read – although I did think I’d read The Black Prince until I read your description. I used to read Iris Murdoch’s books but missed that one (and quite a few of her other books looking at the list on FantasticFiction’s website!) I also missed reading My Purple-Scented Novel too … so many books, etc.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      The Black Prince is one of her longer ones, but it was definitely worth the read (more in reflection than at the time)!

  2. A Life in Books says:

    Brilliant chain, Annabel! I read the Stanley Middleton years ago and enjoyed it. I wonder if it would stand a reread. Lovely to see Parfums, too. A gorgeous book.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thank you. I read the Middleton for Shiny’s Booker Week and did find it rather dated (first time of reading). Parfums, I’d happily re-read.

  3. Davida Chazan says:

    Such diverse books, and yet, they do connect. That Perfume book sounds like it could fit into my chain for next month (yes, I’m already writing it up!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I like to prepare the next one as soon as I can too – but you’ve beaten me to it! Parfums is a wonderful book.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Actually, it does – the blocked author watches his wife and family doing holiday things… but I agree, you wouldn’t get that from my short description. 😀

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