Six degrees of separation, FROM Fever pitch TO Please look after mom

Nick Hornby, Fever pitchYou probably know all about the Six Degrees of Separation monthly “meme” by now, but here’s the gen for newbies. It’s currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest), who, each month, nominates a book from which we players create a chain of seven books, linking one from the other as the spirit moves. Unfortunately, once again, I haven’t read the starting book, Nick Hornby’s football fan-book Fever pitch, but our host Kate said (somewhere) that she thought it would be interesting to start with a book about sport – and I’m up for the challenge! As always (to date), I promise I’ve read all the books I select for my chain.

Gerald Murnane, Something for the painWhen I said above that I’m up for the challenge I meant it, because I immediately knew what my first link would be, Gerald Murnane’s delightful Something for the pain: A memoir of the turf (my review). It’s another memoir from a writer with passion for a sport. I enjoyed it for two reasons. I learnt a lot about Murnane, and I learnt about a sport I know nothing about – which is one of the joys of reading, isn’t it, learning about subjects you know nothing about?

Christos Tsiolkas, Barracuda

A sport I know a little about – more as spectator than exponent – is swimming, and it is to a novel about swimming that I’m linking to next, Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (my review). It tells the story of a young potential swimming champion from the “wrong” side of town being offered a scholarship to attend an elite school where he can be coached by a top swimming coach. The book is not so much about swimming as about the meaning of success and failure, and about what makes a good man.

Sonya Hartnett, Golden boysMy next link sees me leaving the sport theme to draw on Barracuda’s idea of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks finding himself among the well-to-do. Sonya Hartnett’s Golden boys (my review) is about the reverse. A well-to-do family moves to a poorer neighbourhood and the two sons find themselves having to mix with the sons of a very different world. But, their real challenge is their father, who is the reason the family needed to move. It’s a disturbing book.

OrrHandsWakefieldMy next book is also about fathers and his sons. It was one of my favourite discoveries last year, Stephen Orr’s The hands (my review). Its evocation of a father’s relationship with his sons, and of the relationship between the two brothers, particularly through wonderfully authentic dialogue, impressed me greatly. It is set on a remote South Australian farm and deals with the stresses of modern farming in a dry land, stresses that are exacerbated by the spectre of climate change.

Alice Robinson, Anchor PointAnother novel about farms and climate change that I enjoyed was Alice Robinson’s Anchor point (my review). This one, though, was more about a daughter and her father. Interestingly, in both The hands and Anchor point the mother is absent – albeit for different reasons. And now, because I really should, as I’ve said before, link to at least one non-Australian work, I’m going to conclude with another novel about a missing mother …

shinpleasemomKyung-sook Shin’s 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize winner, Please look after mom (or mother) (my review). Set in South Korea, it tells the story of a mother who goes missing. I loved it for a number of reasons: it’s set in a country whose literature I don’t know; it is told from multiple points of view and in different voices (first, second and third person); and it explores some themes that interest me including city versus country values, the importance of literacy and education, and those universal emotions of guilt and regret.

And so, here we are at the end. This is the first time that all my links have drawn on the content of the books. I don’t think I can link at all back to the first book, but we have played some sports along the way, visited a couple of farms, and got to know a few parents and their children. That’s pretty interesting – at least, I think so.

Have you read Fever pitch? And whether or not you have, what would you link to? 

16 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Fever pitch TO Please look after mom

  1. I’ve read a couple on your list – Barracuda and Golden Boys, both of which I loved. Barracuda in particular is a book I still think about often – so many meaty themes (although incidentally, I thought the actual descriptive stuff about swimming was the weakest part of the writing in Barracuda – at the time, I felt like Tsiolkas wasn’t a swimmer. Have since found out that yes, he does swim himself – maybe my expectations were misplaced or that kind of action-writing is not his forte. Without doubt, when it comes to dialogue, he shines).

    Have heard a bit about The Hands – sounds good, will have to look it up.

    • Oh great, interesting observations on Barracuda. Probably a fair point re action writing. I think it was the theme of success and failure that he focused on so was looking for something to hang it onto.

  2. I like your connections Sue, especially The Hands. I had no trouble with my first link I immediately thought of he dark side of sport culture – Night Games by Anna Krien. I followed Anna Krien to Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Then it was a non stop war connected path: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre. Back to War & Peace by Tolstoy and the next two novels by Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls..

  3. Glad to find another person who enjoyed Please Look after Mom – it was given to me by a colleague in Korea and was the first time I had ever read something by an author from that country. It helped me appreciate the country a little more

  4. Well that was fun! From Fever Pitch to Please Look After Mom, not two books I ever would have connected! I haven;t read either of them. Fever Pitch made me think of baseball since we don’t generally call a playing field a pitch in the US. and thinking of baseball, I would have chosen Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, the book upon which the movie Field of Dreams was based.

    • That is the fun of this meme/game I think Stefanie – you never know where you’ll end up if you just start linking.

      Ah, I think I saw that movie, but would never have remembered the book it was based on.

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