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Six degrees of separation, FROM Wild swans TO Family skeleton

September 2, 2017

Jung Chang Wild swansAs you are sure to know by now, I am becoming rather addicted to the Six Degrees of Separation meme currently run by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Please click on the link if you want to find out more about this meme, because I’m moving on with my selections! Our starting book this month is Jung Chang’s three generation biography-autobiography, Wild swans. This book is on my TBR. I missed it when my reading group did it, because I was living in the USA at the time, and I always meant to rectify that …

Junichiro Tanizaki, The Makioka sistersNow, I could link to a book my reading group did while I was away that I did read, but instead I’m going to choose a book that I read instead of books they were reading (even though, unfortunately, it was way before blogging so I have no review to link to). I’m choosing it because it was such an eye-opener for me, and I love to recommend it whenever I get the chance – and, it is set in Asia, albeit Japan, not China. The book is Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka sisters, and is set in Osaka between the mid 1930s and 1941. It’s about a wealthy Osaka-based family and its attempts to marry off the third sister.

Haruki Murakami, Blind willow, sleeping womanThis is the book that introduced me in a big way to Japanese literature, a major contemporary exponent of which is Haruki Murakami. I’ve read a few of his books, but not many since I started blogging. One, though, that I have reviewed is his collection of short stories, Blind willow, sleeping women (my review). If you’ve never read Murakami, these short stories – 24 of them in fact – would provide an excellent introduction to his somewhat strange but fascinating world view.

Kazuo Ishiguro, NocturnesMy next link is to another collection of short stories, but to make the link a bit meaningful, I’m choosing a collection by a Japanese-born English writer – Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes: Five stories of music and nightfall (my review). These five stories touch the theme of music in some way. They also feature a typical Ishiguro device, the unreliable narrator (or at least a narrator who is not completely across what is going on in the story s/he is telling.

Dorothy Porter, On passionNow, many writers, talk about being inspired by music, but the one I’m going to link to here is our wonderful late poet Dorothy Porter, and her little book On passion (my review). Porter dates her passion for music back to her introduction to the Beatles in 1964. She writes that she has written “virtually all [her] poems to rock riffs and rhythm – the catchier, the darker, the louder, the gutsier the better.”

Gillian Mears' Foal's breadPorter died too young, from breast cancer at the age of 54. We Aussies have lost a few of our favourite women writers, too young, in recent years. Another is Gillian Mears, who suffered from multiple sclerosis for nearly two decades before dying last year at the age of 51. I have reviewed her Foals bread here. It’s a novel about a passion in fact, the passion for the sport of horse high jumping. I loved the way Mears conveyed that passion through her characters Noah and Roley.

Carmel Bird, Family skeletonAnd now for my final link, I’m going to return to my reading group. Gillian Mears was one of several Australian women writers we discovered in the year of our formation, 1988. Many of them, though not Mears, we found in the anthology, Room to move, which was our first book. It had stories by Glenda Adams, Thea Astley, Kate Grenville, Helen Garner, Elizabeth Jolley, and many others, including Carmel Bird. It is her latest novel, Family skeleton (my review) that I’m going to use for my last link. Family skeleton seems the perfect book to end a chain that started with a book about three generations of women. I’m sure Chang dealt with a skeleton or two!

So there you have it … we started with one sort of family in China, then visited Japan and England, before coming to Australia and ending with a different sort of family.

Have you read Wild swans? And whether or not you have, what would you link to? 

24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2017 10:15

    I do enjoy the way you make the connections. And naturally I was intrigued to see how you would get from Wild Swans to Family Skeleton. You did it!

  2. September 2, 2017 12:24

    Here’s mine:
    You’ve discovered some beaut books via your reading group, but IMO you were lucky to escape Wild Swans!

  3. September 2, 2017 14:39

    So, if I can only afford one of them . . . should I choose Haruki Murakami’s ‘Blind willow, sleeping women’ or Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Nocturnes: Five stories of music and nightfall’?

    • September 2, 2017 21:26

      Ooh, that’s a hard question Karenlee. I’d probably go for Murakami in this instance, but you couldng lose!

  4. Meg permalink
    September 2, 2017 17:53

    Sue, I am too addicted to this fun. I appreciated how you connected Family Skeleton to Wild Swans. My thoughts ran with birds, from Wild Swans to The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico; then Mateship With Birds by Carrie Tiffany; followed by Birds without Wings by Louis de Bernieres; next was Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks; proceeded to H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and finally the narrative poem,The Raven by Edgar Aleen Poe.

  5. Deepika Ramesh permalink
    September 2, 2017 18:21

    I love this post, Sue. Thank you. 🙂 My first Murakami book was ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’. I haven’t read all the other books mentioned here, but I am adding it all to my TBR. In a couple of days, I will try writing a post on this meme. It speaks to me a lot. 🙂

    • ian darling permalink
      September 2, 2017 20:00

      Wild Swans in a TBR fixture that really must be tackled! I sort of like Murakami and did enjoy this collection of short stories when it came out. The Ishiguro collection I read but in his case I prefer the novels.

      • September 2, 2017 21:31

        Yes, I probably prefer his novels too Ian, though the stories were interesting at the time.

    • September 2, 2017 21:28

      Oh, was it Deepika. Do have a go at this meme. I’ll look out for it.

  6. September 2, 2017 23:56

    I have read Wild Swans. Wonderfully interesting. Never forgot it. Have read a couple of Murakami but not the ones you mention. I have read Foal’s Bread and was very saddened to know Gillian Mears died of MS. Having MS myself, though not progressive at this time, I always feel bad to know others die of it. I would probably link Wild Swans to a book I got at Literary Festival in Sydney a couple years ago. Mother and daughter who escaped North Korea and for life of me can’t remember names of daughter who wrote the book or the book’s name. It’s late and I have been at Theatre Royal for the past three hours. I like your book choices.

  7. daveyone1 permalink
    September 3, 2017 08:42

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

  8. September 3, 2017 17:04

    Love that you turned your chain into a circle 🙂

    Haven’t read either the Porter or the Ishiguro you’ve included but both sound good. Foal’s Bread I have read and it remains one of my most memorable books in the last decade – the opening scene in the creek will never leave my mind.

    • September 4, 2017 08:06

      Thanks Kate. Foal’s bread is memorable, isn’t it? I was glad to find a place for it!

  9. September 3, 2017 17:27

    I loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes! And thanks for the tip on that Murakami book — on my TBR list 🙂

    • September 3, 2017 22:28

      Oh good The Art Dive. So rarely do I hear people who read Nocturnes, it’s nice to hear from a fellow Ishiguro traveller. I hope you enjoy Murakami when (if) you get to it.

  10. September 5, 2017 14:42

    Reblogged this on Tasmanian Bibliophile @Large and commented:
    I love these connections! I’ve read most (not all) of these works. I need to think a little more about what I might link ‘Wild Swans’ to.

    • September 5, 2017 18:00

      Oh do Jennifer, and let me know what you decide. Glad you liked my links (and that you’ve read most of my links. That’s always a plus because you can SEE, hopefully, the connections)

      • September 6, 2017 15:59

        ‘The Makioka Sisters’ appeals to me as well, as a connection to ‘Wild Swans’. Although I am tempted to go for ‘Wuthering Heights’ because there is a generational theme (and I can rarely not find a way to link ‘Wuthering Heights’. But I read ‘The Makioka Sisters’ about seven years ago, and it’s a much neater link.

        • September 6, 2017 16:46

          Haha, Jennifer. Your Wuthering Heights reference sounds like me and Jane Austen! I can always, if I want to, find a link to one of her books too!

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