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Six degrees of separation, FROM Fates and furies TO The Buddha of suburbia

February 4, 2017

grofffatesYou probably all know the Six Degrees of Separation monthly “meme” by now, but here’s the info for those of you who haven’t caught up with it yet. It’s currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Each month, she nominates a book, from which “players” create a chain of six more books, linking one from the other as the spirit moves. Unfortunately, for the third time in a row, I haven’t read the starting book, Lauren Groff’s Fates and furies, but …

Arielle Van Luyn, Treading airDaughter Gums has, so I asked her choose my first link. Her first suggestions were books I haven’t read – and that’s no good because my commitment is to having read all the books I choose for the chain. So then, after some to-ing and fro-ing, she came up with a book I lent her, Ariella Van Luyn’s Treading air (my review). There’s a problem, however, because the best linking point apparently relates to a “reveal” part way through Fates and furies, so I can’t use that. The other link is that both books, writes Daughter Gums, “track a couple’s relationship history from early on (particularly when the woman was quite young) through to the demise (in different forms, though …), both track the relationship through up and down …”. I liked this suggestion not only because it enabled me to highlight a debut Aussie author, but because it lets me link to …

Thea Astley, The multiple effects of rainshadowOne of my favourite Aussie authors, Thea Astley. Treading air is set in Brisbane and Townsville, and Thea Astley was born in Brisbane, moving to Townsville for a teaching job in her early twenties. Her first novel, Girl with a monkey, is set there, but I’m linking to The multiple effects of rainshadow (my review) which explores the longterm effects of a tragic event which occurred in 1930 on Palm Island, just north of Townsville. This island was where the Australian government “sent” problematic (from the “white” point of view) indigenous Australians, but the tragedy was enacted by the “crazed” white superintendent. It did, however, involve indigenous people in the ensuing “resolution” of the superintendent’s actions, and resulted in a surprisingly just court decision.

Chloe Hooper. The tall manMy next link is probably obvious, Chloe Hooper’s The tall man (my mini-review), which is about another tragedy on Palm Island. Hooper’s book, though, is a true crime non-fiction work. It chronicles the 2004 death in custody of an indigenous man, Cameron Doomadgee, and the subsequent riot and ongoing unrest concerning the official response through criminal courts, appeals and coronial investigations. Here, though, is not the place to unravel, if we could, the truth of this situation, but Hooper’s book is an excellent read both for her coverage of the subject and as an example of a genre which we, in Australia, see as being championed by Helen Garner.

Kim Scott That Deadman Dance

And now, you probably think that I’ll link to Helen Garner, but that would be poor form I think because, having linked to two books by white (non-indigenous) writers exploring black-white relations in some way, I should (and would like) to link to an indigenous author. So, I’m going to go back, back, way before 1930, to the early nineteenth century settlement by the British of Western Australian – that is, to Kim Scott’s wonderful That deadman dance (my review). In it Scott tells the story of first contact from the local people’s, the Noongar’s, point of view.  His thesis, supported, apparently, by historical evidence, is that the Noongar were willing to work with the newcomers, but of course they were the losers in the end.

Marie Munkara, Every secret thingI’m going stay with this idea of contact, and link to another indigenous author’s book, Marie Munkara’s Every secret thing (my review). This book, which is more a collection of interconnected stories than a novel, is set in northern Australia and explores the relationship between indigenous people (the “bush mob”) and white people (the “mission mob”). The “bush mob” think they can keep the upper hand, or, at least, maintain their pride and independence. This is a very funny book, but its humour has serious bite. In the end, of course, it’s not the “bush mob” who have the power.

Hanif Kureishi, The buddha of suburbiaAnd now, partly because I really should include at least one non-Australian book, I’m going to link to another comic-satire, Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of suburbia (my review). It’s a more than appropriate link, in fact, because not only does it have over-the-top humour, like Munkara’s book, it is, also, partly about “other”, in this case about immigrants trying to make their way in England. As narrator Karim says, “to the English we were always wogs and nigs and Pakis and the rest of it”. However, unlike Munkara’s “bush mob”, Karim and his friends do manage to make some self-determining way in the world they find themselves in.

And so, this time I’ve linked mostly on content, with a nod along the way to setting and style. Not knowing Fates and furies, I can’t say whether we’ve ended up anywhere near where we started. Can anyone enlighten me?

And, if not, there’s always my usual question for this meme: where would Fate and furies take you – your first step at least?

44 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2017 10:41 am

    I think I’m going to skip this one. It’s too hard when I don’t know anything at all about the starting book. I mean, there are lots of books I haven’t read, yet I know something about them, but this one is a complete mystery to me. The only strand I can think of to start with is ‘books with boring covers’ and I don’t like the negativity of that.
    But I like your choices:)

    • February 4, 2017 10:50 am

      Fair enough too, Lisa. I wouldn’t have heard of it if my daughter hadn’t read it last year, as of course you’ve read.

  2. Meg permalink
    February 4, 2017 2:47 pm

    I haven’t read Fates and Furies and like Lisa, I was going to skip this one. Then I thought of Gone With The Wind and Scarlet’s words, “There’s always Tomorrow”. Next thought was John Marsden, “Tomorrow”, When the War Began. After that the Bible and Genesis, The Beginning. Followed by The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Then naturally, on to Barbara Trapido’s novel, Noah’s Ark. My last connection was The Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes.

  3. February 4, 2017 3:47 pm

    a bit out of my cultural loop, it is… still, i might try it if i can choose the books first… no? darn… well…

    • February 4, 2017 5:33 pm

      No, mudpuddle, but as many of us have shown you don’t have to have read the first book. And that releases you to all sorts of flights of fancy!

  4. February 4, 2017 6:44 pm

    I haven’t read the first book either, so began my chain with another book about marriage. I haven’t read any of the books in your chain – but they sound fascinating.

  5. February 4, 2017 7:19 pm

    Good on you to do this one since you hadn’t read the first one. I was going to play this time, but after skimming a review of it in The New Yorker, I lost interest…

    • February 4, 2017 8:34 pm

      Ah, Annette, as you’ll have read I used my daughter for this one, but I don’t think I’d ever be turned off by the first book because I reckon I could always twist it to something of interest to me. After all, I even did one from the girl with a dragon tattoo!

      From my point of view the first book is like going to a brainstorm. It doesn’t really matter what the first idea is, it’s what you do with it that counts in the end?

  6. February 4, 2017 8:12 pm

    I’ve read Fates and Furies but none of the other books on your list, so this was interesting for me. Here’s my 6 Degrees: https://wildeonmyside.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/six-degrees-of-separation-from-fates-and-furies-to-allegedly/

  7. February 5, 2017 12:10 am

    I haven’t read any of the books in your chain (including Fates & Furies!) although have been meaning to read The Tall Man – I really like Hooper’s style.

    I think asking your daughter to make the first link is brilliant – love that idea.

    • February 5, 2017 3:45 am

      Haha Kate. Glad you liked my daughter solution Kate. All’s fair as they say! The tall man is well worth reading.

      • February 5, 2017 8:04 am

        I’m actually about to start The Children’s Book of Crime. Tall Man will be next.

  8. February 5, 2017 12:18 am

    If I’d known you’d quote me directly, I would have been a little more eloquent!! xo

    • February 5, 2017 3:47 am

      Well, Hannah, then you might have shown my eloquence up! Anyhow, it was that un-eloquent was it? And people seem to approve.

      • February 5, 2017 6:26 pm

        I’m a perfectionist and you know it! 😛

        • February 5, 2017 7:06 pm

          Never hurts to accept less than perfection every now and then, particularly given what you wrote made perfect sense!

  9. Kim@Time2Read permalink
    February 5, 2017 3:58 am

    It’s interesting the different directions all of us take with our chain. I particularly like your direction and the caveat that you’ve read each book you link. (I don’t stick to that one.)

    • February 5, 2017 4:06 am

      Oh, I’ll come read yours Kim. I just like having that caveat, but I’ve seen others like you and that’s also fine. There are no rules after all, are there?! And you never know I might break it one day.

  10. February 5, 2017 9:32 am

    I can’t do the six degree thing, but I wanted to second your enthusiasm for The Buddha of Suburbia

    • February 5, 2017 12:55 pm

      Thanks Guy… But why can’t you do the six degree thing? Not interested? Takes too much time? You don’t have to answer of course but I’m interested if you’d like to share.

      • February 5, 2017 5:02 pm

        For some reason, it’s irritating for me to start thinking about.

        • February 5, 2017 7:05 pm

          Fair enough – I appreciate that you commented, anyhow. Thanks.

  11. February 6, 2017 8:30 am

    I chickened out on this one because I had never heard of the book so had nothing to go with as an idea initiator. I’m impressed on how well you did considering where you too began

    • February 6, 2017 8:34 am

      I had the edge with my daughter, of course, Karen. Once she mentioned it last year I started seeing it pop up all over the place but before then I hadn’t heard of it, like so many other here. I’m really glad I’m not the only one because I had started to wonder what planet I was on. Clearly one with a lot of my reading friends!

  12. February 7, 2017 8:20 am

    I’ve read Fates and Furies and I liked it. The husband is a playwright so I would have gone with something play-related. Or, given the question of the Fates and the Furies, I might have gone mythological. Your trail, as always, was fun to follow!

  13. NeilAtKallaroo permalink
    February 7, 2017 10:01 am

    Neither have I read Fates and Furies, but the title reminds me of The Sandman series of comic books, by Neil Gaiman. Slipping sideways, I have read Gaiman’s American Gods, a book I didn’t fully understand. Another book I didn’t fully understand is Frank Herbert’s Dune. Slipping sideways again, I did understand Herbert’s The Dragon under the Sea. Must have been good, my father-in-law enjoyed it as well. This story is about submarines. My last link (I am one short, but you’ll see why) is to another submarines story, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, where the action is fast and furious.

    Yes, I am still in hospital. The operation, a week and a half ago, went smoothly, but the wound is taking a while to dry out. Still, lots of time for reading.

    • February 7, 2017 12:31 pm

      Oh lovely to hear from you Neil. I was hoping you’d pop in. Our son was keen on The Sandman series. I enjoyed your links – I suspect we all have a few books we “didn’t fully understand”. I know I’ve mentioned a couple on this blog over time.

      And thanks for the medical update. I guess we don’t heal as well the older we get – but I presume it’s all moving in the right direction?

      • NeilAtKallaroo permalink
        February 7, 2017 3:18 pm

        Seems to be improving, though much slower than I would like. And I am eager to get home – our verge has been paved, completing the front yard renovations. Should look fantastic in a couple of years when the plants have grown. You must drop in when next you head to Margaret River.

        • February 7, 2017 4:07 pm

          That’s the important thing. Speedy improvement would be ideal of course, but we have to take what we can don’t we.

          We must – when NEXT we head to Margaret River! Except, we haven’t been there once yet to make a next possible! Sad but true.

        • NeilAtKallaroo permalink
          February 7, 2017 9:54 pm

          Oh dear.

        • February 7, 2017 10:25 pm

          Indeed… Hopeless we are.

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