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Six Degrees of Separation: Wild Card Month!

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly book meme hosted by Books Are My Best and Favorite. A chain of 6 books is linked somehow–whether to all books or only to the one before it. A common book is given each month with which to start the chain.

This month is a wild card – start with the book you’ve ended a previous chain with, and continue from there.

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It says a book you’ve ended A previous chain–not THE previous chain! Decisions! I finally settled on Travelers: A Novel by Helon Habila which ended my April 2020 chain. You can read my review here.

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1.One of the main characters in Travelers is Nigerian, that immediately brought to mind the books of Buchi Emacheta an immigrant who wrote about the immigrant experience in London. I read most of her books in 1992–1994 after returning home from Peace Corps. I remember them fondly.

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2. A book that combines the Black London experience with West Africa is Swing Time–my favorite of Zadie Smith’s books. My review is here. Combining the experience of the have nots with that of the 1% this novel gives us a view of the backside of a Princess Di or Madaonna or any other A-list celebrity charity events in an impoverished nation.

3. A big name can do a lot for a small place. The 3rd Baron Glenconner did that for a little island called Mustique, bringing tourists and money to the area–if not to that exact island. Two books (counted as one) tell this story. Sometimes, the islanders have the last laugh–though I am sorry for Anne Glenconner. My review of Lady in Waiting is here. After reading these two books (I have not reviewed Lord of the Isle yet) I understood why Princess Margaret’s son immediately sold the her house and moved to Provence!

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4.  A tiny, tropical nation still requires diplomats to live there and diplomats generally bring their wives. Marriages have their ups and downs. Countries have their ups and downs. Racism and colonialism are like a disease in most places. What happens when the malaise of a long-time marriage meets the discontent of lingering colonialism? White Woman on a Green Bicycle. My review is here.

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5.  The diplomats, even from former colonial powers, sometimes get a little too friendly with the locals. I’m not sure why, but when reading this I kept picturing the younger diplomat as Prince William of Gloucester who served in the British Embassy in Nigeria for a few years!  William Boyd’s A Good Man for Africa-the movie was pretty good, too.

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6. Americans can be so clueless! Reading this story of an American diplomat and his daughter in Nazi Berlin made me cringe at times. In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson. My review is here.

But, we’ve gone full circle–back to Berlin, back to an immigrant experience of sorts. Diplomats are not, of course, immigrants, but they do have to acculturate.

In December we start with

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Prince William of Gloucester at his desk in Lagos.

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6 Degrees of Separation: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly book meme hosted by Books Are My Best and Favorite. A chain of 6 books is linked somehow–whether to all books or only to the one before it. A common book is given each month with which to start the chain.

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The month flew by! Now for the long 4th of July holiday–the only one that isn’t a Monday holiday law holiday. We get to have it on Friday.  Six Degrees this month features a book I’d never heard of, so I investigated it, bought it, and even started reading it. So far, so good, but I’m nowhere near finished. I’ll just use what I can from what I’ve read to develop my chain. It is What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.

Here’s part of the blurb from Amazon:

Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship…. follows the evolution of the growing involvement between his family and Bill’s-an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men; their wives…and their children….The families live in the same building in New York, share a house in Vermont during the summer.

 

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For some reason, it was that part of the blurb about a summer house that took me, to another creative couple, and a scene from the movie Reds. Trust me it makes sense. Another “artist” and his wife and their friends. In a way, they were a muse to each other–in a way. Too tenuous a link? Maybe when I finish reading What I Love I’ll have my answer? Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed [Louise Bryant was his wife]. (See the film clip at the bottom for part of the scene that inspired me.) I recall staying awake all night, unable to put this book down. I don’t honestly recall what or if it actually recounted of Reed & Bryant’s relationship though–I read it in 1983.

 

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That Reds scene, somehow, led me to Heartburn by Nora Ephron, which I watched on an excruciating date when it came out. Rachel is a cookbook writer, but her husband, Mark, is now having an affair while she is hugely pregnant. Scumbag. This reminded me of a scene from a Woody Allen movie that I watched on another excruciating date with the same guy, but I won’t name the title because I loathe Woody Allen.

 

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That naturally led me to one of the ultimate scumbag husbands, whose wives were each, in turn, a sort of muse to him–Ernest Hemingway. The Paris Wife [Which then brought to mind a scene from the movie Islands in the Stream, which was based on Hemingway, but that scene isn’t in this book] and it’s “Sister-Wife-book” Love and Ruin. (I’m counting these as one book). (My review is here for Love and Ruin).

 

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In Love and Ruin, Hem runs off to Cuba to escape the world. He lets one wife do up the house for the next wife to live in. Nice guy, but running away from the world led me to Helen and Scott Nearing who gave up on Capitalism, but not the U.S.A. and ran into the woods to live The Good Life, which reminded me of a scene in the movie The Way We Were but definitely wasn’t in this book! My review is here.

 

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This brought me to another New England marriage, but one that epitomized capitalism. One was an actor who owned a grocery store, the other a writer whose memoirs were regarded as “fiction” by her family. She is revered by her readers though. Madeleine L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention has now been added to her Crosswicks Journals, which are my favorite of all her books, no matter what her children said about them.

So, we have now gone full-circle, back to artists, marriage, and family.

 

 

 

 

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Six Degrees of Separation: From Normal People by Sally Rooney to a Pearl S. Buck masterpiece

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Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly book meme hosted by Books Are My Best and Favorite. A chain of 6 books is linked somehow–whether to all books or only to the one before it. A common book is given each month with which to start the chain.

This month’s book is Normal People by Sally Rooney. Here is the blurb from Amazon:

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life-changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

My Thoughts On This Book

For the record, I threw this one back–violently. “Can I cum in your mouth,” isn’t edifying literature worthy of “Novel of the Decade” hype and a t.v. show. I won’t be watching the show either. I can watch losers grope each other in line at Walmart.

 

My Chain

 

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Back in high school, books with what I today call “ick moments” were rare. After all, we’d just elected Southern Baptist, teetotaler Jimmy Carter to the presidency.  Wifey is the first book I ever got my hands on that made me want to quit reading due to ick moments.  She was married! Since I was in high school and the book was passed around till it fell open to those parts of the story, I finished it. Where would I have sat at lunch if I hadn’t? Wifey by Judy Blume.

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Another book insanely over-hyped with and chock-full of ick moments that made me barf into my throat was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I made it only as far as the gushing over how wonderful heroin was. Yeah. This sucker hit the wall so hard it left a dent when I threw it.

 

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Another book of a  woman (and two men) on an adventure that also had a funny not-so-ick moment describing one man’s purple you-know-what, is Euphoria by Lily King. I already knew a lot about Margaret Meade and Gregory Bateman so the book wasn’t a revelation, but at least I enjoyed it way more than Wild.

 

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If the trio in Euphoria traveled metaphorically back in time doing their anthropological fieldwork, Claire Randall finds a cure for dreary post-war Britain through actual time travel and talk about ick moments, but unlike Normal People, it has an actual story. I do not recommend the audio for rush hour driving entertainment. I’m so sorry Mr. Orkin Man! I nearly hit an exterminator’s truck when one scene got going! Outlander by Diana Gabbon.

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Another wife who went thru a lot, but only in her own time, and enjoyed her own not-icky-ick-moments was Mr. Emerson’s Wife. She didn’t go in for time travel but her life was an adventure of a sort. I loved this book, and love this author!

 

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Pearl S. Buck is best remembered for her books set in China, but this one is set at home in Pennsylvania. Ruth some social adventuring in her life by marrying William, an upper-class painter and enduring his whims. She was one of those rare women who can give and not receive without being precious about it. This book has the most beautifully written scenes of intimacy ever. I read this book in 2013 and it instantly became one of my lifetime favorites. Portrait of a Marriage by Pearl S. Buck. Read my old review here.

 

So this month’s chain has gone from the ick moment of two people I couldn’t care less about to the beautiful intimacy of two people I will love for the rest of my life.

 

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Next month’s book is What I Loved: A Novel by Siri Hustvedt, a book and an author I’ve never heard a word about, but just bought for Kindle for  $1.99. Would you like to join in next month? Here are the rules for Six Degrees of Separation!

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Six Degrees of Separation: Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar

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6 Degrees of Separation is a book meme hosted by Books Are My Favorite and Best on the first Saturday of each month. Here’s how it works:

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

 

#6Degrees

The Story

Kitty Hawke, the last inhabitant of a dying island sinking into the wind-lashed Chesapeake Bay, has resigned herself to annihilation…

Until one night her granddaughter blows ashore in the midst of a storm, desperate, begging for sanctuary. For years, Kitty has kept herself to herself – with only the company of her wolfdog, Girl – unconcerned by the world outside, or perhaps avoiding its worst excesses. But blood cannot be turned away in times like these. And when trouble comes following her granddaughter, no one is more surprised than Kitty to find she will fight to save her as fiercely as her name suggests…

A richly imagined and mythic parable of home and kin that cements Lucy Treloar’s place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.

My Thoughts

This has already jangled some pet peeve nerves. “Kitty Hawke”? Seriously?? Stupid names put me off almost instantly. And Aussie writing a story set in Chesapapeke Baby Has she lived there? I couldn’t find anything that said she had. Is her husband/partner from there? Ditto. Hmmmmm

 

My Chain

I skipped the obvious pull towards Wright Brothers’ books and toward wolf books. Nothing wrong with the Wright Brothers of wolves.

 

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I hated this book, but the Buddhist nun character sounded as out-there as Ms. Hawk in the Wolfe Island book, only weirder. Her great-granddaughter seeks a sort of sanctuary from the bullying at school. A Hello Kitty lunchbox full of mementos pulls another character back to the past. This book is odd, but it was the first that “clicked” in my thinking of a chain. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

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Another odd unusual person made eccentric and isolated by her circumstances apparently, [I haven’t yet read it] is the main character in the Persephone book Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd. The war-time Britain to which she returns after living so isolated is about as intelligible as HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would have been. (I’m hoping to buy this one soon for reading in the next Peresphone Read-Athon).

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Poor Miss Raskin being washed overboard, combined with the grandchild & great-grandchild seeking sanctuary in the other books brought  The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman to mind. It features a reclusive couple who insist upon sanctuary for a baby who washed up from a shipwreck seemingly in answer to their prayers for a child. The put the ethical issues of keeping the child into a special mental compartment and go on with life. The child is safe, loved, and “theirs.” Another isolated couple had their prayers for a child answered differently–with a Snow Child, but that story didn’t really fit here as well. I’m including it just in case anyone has missed it. It’s lovely and wonderful.

 

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Next to mind was The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. It was read aloud to us by my 6th-grade teacher. I remember thinking how utterly alone this poor guy was–possibly my first “mature” thought about a book. That loneliness has always echoed through Hemingway’s writing for me. Here is a lonely man, alone against a fish. No sanctuary for him–not in his mind or soul, until he gets that fish.

 

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Next to mind was a book about taking to the sea to seek sanctuary. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is one young woman’s powerful refugee story, taking her from Syria to Europe the hardest way possible. There were many times when young Doaa would have been safer alone. (These two books came to mind with this one–all 3 are on the same crisis).

 

Escaping the wolves of communism and finding sanctuary 90 miles away is the theme of two books about the same family, as well as the theme of the forthcoming book in the series, by Chanel Cleeton. The first book, Next Year in Havana tells the story of the family’s prepared to leave–the coming to power of Castro, the loss of the father’s companies, the involvement of a daughter with a freedom fighter, etc. The second book, When We Left Cuba, tells of their new life in Miami, and the continued work of one to liberate Cuba. The new book, coming in June is The Last Train to Key West. So, those political wolves being on an island, we could re-christen Cuba as Lobo (Masculine Wolf) Island, bringing us full circle.

 

Bonus:

Kitty Hawk–idiotic name. Here’s the best Wright Brother’s book I’ve read:

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The Wright Brothers by the ever-wonderful David McCullogh. It all took flight at Kitty Hawk. My recommended book for the must-read book of 2016.

 

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One of the best nature books on wolves by Canada’s fabulous Farey Mowatt, Never Cry Wolf.

 

To participate in 6 Degrees of Separation each month go to the Rules and then on the first Saturday of the month post your link in this list.

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Six Degrees of Separation: Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

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#6degrees

This month’s starting book is

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I haven’t read this one, so here is part of the Amazon blurb:

“Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.

My Chain

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The first book that came to mind was one of a husband’s treachery. The wife is always the last to know, right? Just deserts await. Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan.  Link to my review.

 

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Of course, there are even worse Dad’s out there. After all, Tara lived to tell her story. I chose Educated to tell how badly a Dad’s craziness can impact the family making everyone wish for a divorce. Educated by Tara Westover [I did not review this book because I never finished reading it. It didn’t shock me–I’ve studied religious cults who do even worse].

 

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Combining father [figure] and education and [imagined] abuse brought me next to the Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene. Link to my review.

 

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Next to mind came Fathermothergod: My Journey out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse. A father and husband who leaves his wife to die before her children inch by inch in the name of faith.

 

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I truly HATE this new cover, by the way

My fifth book came to mind from both the first book and the fourth. Here is a wife from a failed marriage who must step-up and help her ex-husband when ALS strikes. Every Note Played by Lisa Genova. Link to my review.

 

 

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Alice wakes up to find herself 10 years older than she remembers being. She had been 29, happily married and expecting her first child. Now she’s 39, has three kids, and her marriage is falling apart. How did she get here?  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Link to my review.

 

 

You can read the rules for 6 Degrees of Separation here. Why not join in next month?