Six degrees of separation, FROM What I loved TO …

Half the year is over – and what an awful year it has been, generally and personally. I’d like to try to put the first half behind me (without ever forgetting the special person who left my life during it and whose 91st birthday would, in fact, have been today) and look to a more positive second half. Let’s see what we can do with this month’s Six Degrees of Separation meme.  If you are new to blogging and don’t know this meme and how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

Book coverJuly’s starting book is another I haven’t read. Indeed, I haven’t read any of her books, but if I did, this is the one I’d choose. The book is American writer Siri Hustvedt’s What I loved.

Jane Austen, PersuasionSiri Hustvedt is, I read a long time ago, a Jane Austen fan, so my first link is Jane Austen’s Persuasion (my reviews of volume 1 and volume 2) because Hustvedt wrote the introduction to the Folio edition of this novel. If you are a Jane Austen fan, like me, you will buy multiple versions of her novels just for the introductions. (For this reason, I’ll be adding my mum’s editions to my already multiple edition Austen library.)

Helen Garner, Everywhere I lookAnother novelist who loves Jane Austen – they are legion in fact – is Helen Garner. She wrote about Austen in her collection of essays, Everywhere I look (my review).

Barbara Baynton 1892

Baynton 1892 (PD, via Wikipedia)

Garner, in fact, wrote about quite a few writers in that collection, including Tim Winton and Elizabeth Jolley, but the one I am going to link to next is a much older writer, Barbara Baynton, and her short story “The chosen vessel”, (my review). Garner says she has never got over it. It’s a powerful story, that’s for sure.

Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin (PD, via Wikipedia)

There are many short stories and novels I have never got over, though quite a few of them are from pre-blogging times. However, there’s a short story from my blogging times that affected me deeply and that I keep returning to. The writer is the American Kate Chopin, and the story “Désirée’s baby” (my review). Its underlying themes about race and gender are distressingly still too relevant today (or, do I mean still too distressingly relevant!)

Maxine Beneba Clarke, The hate raceRacism is an issue that we just can’t seem to resolve. Why is it that we can’t all see and respect each other as equal human beings? I have read many books over the years – fiction and non-fiction – that deal with race. However, I’m going to return to Australia, and Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The hate race (my review), for my fifth link, because her aim was to show “the extreme toll that casual, overt and institutionalised racism can take: the way it erodes us all”. It “erodes us all”: this is a lesson we are all still learning.

Book coverWhere to from here? Can I be a little less heavy for my last link? The hate race is a memoir about Clarke’s experience of growing up. I hope it’s not disrespectful to conclude with a very different, and rather happier memoir about growing up, Anna Goldsworthy’s Piano lessons (my review). Goldsworthy had her challenges – who doesn’t – but nothing like those faced by Clarke.

So, an unusual chain this month, because it includes two short stories, a book of essays, two memoirs, and just one novel. My links have stayed mostly in Australia, but I have popped over to early 19th century England and late 19th century USA. All this month’s writers are women.

Now the usual: Have you read What I loved? And, regardless, what would you link to? 

25 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM What I loved TO …

  1. Here it is again, and I’ve been so busy getting ready for #IndigLitWeek I haven’t even thought about #6Degrees!
    I hope your annus horribilis improves from now onwards, xo

  2. Hi Sue, you have had a rotten year so far – let’s hope it improves a little bit. I have read What I loved by Siri Hustrbedt and enjoyed it. My links were related to complicated love: My Policeman by Bethan Roberts; Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner; The White Thorntree by Frank Dalby Davison; Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney; The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose; and The Life to Come by Michelle de Krester

  3. Yes, could we all speak to the manager and have our money back on this year?

    I have a bunch of editions of Gatsby, all for the introductions and the beautiful jackets. Very clever to link via authors thoughts on other authors 🙂

  4. Thanks for the recommendation of something good to read by Kate Chopin, because I HATE her novel The Awakening. I’ve read it twice because it’s always praised as a seminal work in feminism, but it just seems self-indulgent to me.

    • Oh, Mary, then I wonder if you would like this – though, hmm, it is the opposite of self-indulgent. I’ve never thought of the awakening as self-indulgent though I can see how it could be seen so. For me, though, it is a feminist statement, a cry from women trapped by expectations and unable to break free. She represents, makes a statement, for all the women who just do get on with it?

  5. Wikipedia says that Ms. Hustvedt is from Northfield, Minnesota. Step one, therefore is to Charles James Portis’s True Grit, in which a couple of the participants in the Northfield bank robbery get a cameo. Arkansas borders on Texas, so step two is to the Texan Katherine Anne Porter’s novella Old Mortality. A part of Old Mortality is set in in New Orleans, ergo step three goes to Walker Percy’s first and best novel, The Moviegoer. Step four is to Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, set just up the river from Louisiana in Mississippi. Step five is to Peter Taylor’s Summons to Memphis, Memphis being just over the line from Mississippi in Tennessee. For step six, I want to end with a woman, so we’ll skip over Kentucky for the Ohio-born Dawn Powell (who set all her novels in New York City) and The Locusts Have No King.

    • Excellent George… And a bunch of books that woukd interest me. I know and have read Welty, though not this book, and have heard of Porter and Percy. I know the film True grit. Your first link to it is great!

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