It’s July – a cold month in my city – but when this post is published I won’t be there. I’ll be in the far north, about to start a 12-day tour of Arnhem Land which is not only a fascinating place to visit, but a warm one! However, I didn’t want to miss this month’s Six Degrees of Separation meme, particularly since I’ve read the starting book. A rare occurrence. Some background first on the meme: it’s currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Clicking on the link on her blog-name will take you to her explanation of how it works.
So now, the meme. The book Kate chose for July is Armistead Maupin‘s Tales of the city. Not only have I read it but – unusually for me – I’ve read the whole series. I still remember the glorious weekend nearly three decades ago in which, for some reason, I had the opportunity to read and read – and this series is what I read. I had read novels by gay authors before, including EM Forster’s Maurice, which he would not let be published until after his death, but Maupin’s series spoke of lives contemporary to mine – albeit lived in San Francisco – and I loved the open, warm way he shared the lives and experiences of his characters.
Because gay writers on gay subjects are still underrepresented in our literary milieu, I’m going to stick with this theme and shout out to local writer Nigel Featherstone and his novella, I’m ready now (my review). It revolves around Gordon, a gay man turning 30, who is coming to the end of his Year of Living Ridiculously, a year of rather self-destructive high living that he designed for his 30th year. It’s a lovely book about coming to terms with the past, and about, as Featherstone says, “living imaginatively.”
Next, I’m going to change tack, and look at form. Nigel Featherstone will understand, because he, like me, likes novellas – so it is to another novella that I’m linking next. I’ve read and reviewed many novellas on this blog, so I’m choosing a beautiful one that I don’t think I’ve used before in Six Degrees, Jay Griffiths’ A Love letter from a stray moon (my review). It’s a gorgeous, moving story told in the voice of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, someone who could also tell us something about “living imaginatively!” (And just look at that cover.)
You might think that from here I’d move to another novel about an artist, but this month I’m in the mood to discombobulate … so, here’s the thing. I read Griffiths’ novel while I was travelling in Japan, which reminds me of all the Japanese authors I like (and how I haven’t read enough of them since starting this blog.) One I’ve read though is Banana Yoshimoto’s The lake (my review).
The lake is about a few things, but one of the main ones is about a daughter coming to terms with the loss of her mother. Another book involving a lake and a sort of loss – though not of a mother – is Alan Gould’s The lakewoman (my review). It’s a lyrical and clever book about love and connection, despite distance.
That’s lakes done. I could, in fact, link to another lake book, as I have a few in mind, but that’s a bit boring, so I’m going to switch gears again and link on authors who’ve attended my reading group meetings. Alan Gould was one, and Biff Ward was another. We were all moved by her clear-sighted memoir, In my mother’s hands (my review), and loved the additional insights she provided at our meeting. It is always a treat having authors present at meetings.
For my final book, I’m staying with form and content. Ward’s book is a memoir about living in a complicated family, and so is Georgia Blain’s Births deaths marriages: True tales (my review). In Blain’s case the difficulties came more through her father, but both authors document beautifully the challenge children can have navigating tricky relationships or situations.
Wow, I think I’ve excelled myself this month in terms of travels. We have been all over the place – from the USA (in the starting book) to Australia, and then winged our way to Mexico, Japan and France, before returning to Australia. As for gender balance, four of my six books are by women, which is about average for my Six Degrees posts.
And now, my usual question: Have you read Tales from the city? And regardless, what would you link to?
17 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Tales of the city TO …”
Hi Sue, I have read Tales of the City and like you the rest in the series. I was tempted to link them, but went to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Then followed with Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, the play Faust by Goethe, A Guide to Berlin by Gail Jones, and finished with The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.
Excellent, Meg. I love the idea of starting with A tale of two cities.
I haven’t read the starter book, but thanks to you, I got an idea for how to start off:)
So here’s mine! https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/07/07/six-degrees-of-separation-from-tales-of-the-city-to/
Now you’ve intrigued me Lisa!
Would you believe I have five or six books in this series on my shelf unread. My husband read them and enjoyed them. Every time I have looked at his books I think I must read them but something always distracts me. Aghhh- just too many books out there!
Agree with that, Pam, too many books.
I haven’t read Tales from the City, so started with a link to another book of ‘tales’. I really like your links – so clever – and all the places your chain goes through.
Thanks very much Margaret. I’ll come visit yours.
Fascinating connections between these books. I have not read any of them but I want to read Maurice soon. I am have been impressed by everything else I have read by E. M. Foster.
Your reference to your glorious reading weekend makes me want to reserve a couple of days for just reading soon.
I love Forster Brian, which is why, many years ago, I sought out Maurice. It’s been ages since I’ve read him, but this year my reading group had decided is time to read him again… We are going to do Howard’s End.
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Love Letter sounds great – I’ll check it out.
I think I’ve said before how lucky you were to have Biff Ward come to your book group. I thought her memoir was brilliant (coincidencently, I read it right before I read Georgia Blain’s memoir, Museum of Words).
It’s a really interesting book Kate, though probably flew generally under the radar.
I must read Blah’s Museum of words. I have it-just haven’t read it!
Museum is a very quick read, although there’s lots to savour.
You’ve confirmed what I imagined about it Kate. Must try to squeeze it in.
I’m excited by the final link to a book by Georgia Blain, having recently read my first of her novels a few weeks ago. I have read Tales of the City and I would link to Tommy Orange’s new novel There There (titled for the Gertrude Stein quote about how there is no THERE there anymore), which moves amongst a wide cast (like Maupin) all people who will be attending a powwow on the land currently called California, mostly indigenous characters with greater/lesser attachments to their ancestral lines. The perspective changes rapidly and there is a lightness to the prose (mostly thanks to dialogue and structure) and it’s a great companion to Maupin. Thoroughly enjoyed your meandering through the meme, as usual.
Thanks Buried. Always enjoy your comments… and your recommendations. I’ve never heard of There, there or of Tommy Orange.