I do love the sound of 2020. It has a lovely ring to it. It’s also the year that Father Gums will turn 100. However, that will be May. Right now, it’s time to kick off the first Six Degrees of Separation meme of the year. This meme for those of you who don’t know it is explained in detail on our meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
I’m starting this year the same as I did last year, that is, with Kate choosing a book I haven’t read. Indeed I haven’t even heard of Taylor Jenkin’s Reid book, Daisy Jones and the Six, which is a novel about the rise and fall of a fictional 1970s rock band.
For my first link, I’m sticking with the theme of rock music, and choosing Nigel Featherstone’s novella, The beach volcano (my review). However, Featherstone’s novel, while featuring a successful rock musician – Canning aka Mick Dark – is not so much about Canning’s musical career as his return home after a long absence for his father’s 80th birthday, intent on getting answers to some longstanding family secrets and, thus, resolve underlying conflicts.
Featherstone’s Canning returns home because he wants to improve his relationship with his family, and father. Not so for Édouard Péricourt in Pierre Lemaître’s The great swindle (my review). Severely wounded in World War 1, and the son of a dominating father, he flat refuses to return home to resolve those unresolved conflicts!
And here, sticking, unusually for me, with content, I’m going to link on something a bit tenuous. Édouard Péricourt was so disfigured in the war that he wears increasingly bizarre but often beautiful masks rather than let people see his face. Masks feature in Julian Davies’ novel Crow mellow (my review), but via a masked ball that takes place in a country house/bush retreat where artists are staying with their patrons and admirers.
Crow mellow belongs, then, to a sub-genre known as country house novels. While you couldn’t call my next link a country house, exactly, but the characters in Charlotte Wood’s The natural way of things (my review) are all stuck together in a sort of labour camp in the country somewhere. No masked-ball fun there!
The natural way of things won the Stella Prize in 2016. The 2015 winner was a sort of country house novel too, Emily Bitto’s The strays (my review) which is about an artist’s colony in Victoria, inspired by the Reeds and their Heide group. Yes, I know I’m stretching the country house friendship a bit, but why not?
So, where to from here? How about another book which was inspired by artists, albeit of a different type? Dominic Smith’s The electric hotel (my review) was inspired by the silent film pioneers of the early twentieth century. Its protagonist, Claude Ballard, is fictional, like Bitto’s Trenthams, but it does directly reference real artists as well, such as the Lumière Brothers and Thomas Edison.
So, a different sort of chain for me because all the main links are content-related (with an additional link between Wood and Bitto on the Stella Prize.) Interestingly, I’ve realised that most of the books deal with artists of some sort – painters, musicians, filmmakers, and mask-makers. Four of my six authors are male, which is not common for me, and all of my linked authors, except Pierre Lemaître, are Australian (albeit Smith now lives in the USA). Oh, and all are set post 1900.
And now, my usual questions: Have you read Daisy Jones and the Six? And, regardless, what would you link to?