Skip to content

Six degrees of separation, FROM The bingo palace TO …

November 7, 2020

Two months into spring here down under, and we are enjoying a wetter spring than usual. I don’t love rain, but my has it resulted in lovely spring blossoms, and we do need our dams to be filled – which they are! Now though, onto today’s business, this month’s Six Degrees of Separation meme.  As always, if you don’t know this meme and how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

And the first rule, of course, is that Kate sets our starting book, and this month, as she did a year or so ago, she told us to start this month’s chain with last linked book from our last Six Degrees post, which, woo-hoo, means another starting book I’ve read!

Book cover

So, the book I ended last month’s chain with was Louise Erdrich’s The bingo palace (my review), which is inspired by the fact that gambling is a major source of income for many Native American communities, a way in which they can support themselves (albeit also comes with problems).

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko

Another community for which gambling can operate as a survival mechanism are the Koreans in Japan who run most of the Pachinko parlours in that country. This story is covered in Min Jin Lee’s originally named Pachinko (my review).

Richard Lloyd Parry’s The people who eat darkness (my review) is a non-fiction true crime work which explores the problematic position of Koreans in Japan, one which can have, as here, dire consequences.

Keeping with the Korean theme but moving over to South Korea itself, my next link is to a book I read for the now-defunct 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize, Kyung-Sook Shin’s Please look after mom [or mother, if you read the non-American edition] (my review).
Yan Lianke's Dream of Ding Village

For my next link, I’m moving from setting and subject (though am staying in Asia), to another book I read for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize shadow jury, Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village (my review).

Courtney Collins, The burial

Finally, we land in Australia, with Courtney Collins‘ historical novel The burial (my review), which was inspired inspired by the life of Jessie Hickman, an Australian woman bushranger. That, however, is not the link – obviously. The link is that both novels have dead child narrators, though Collins’ is a very young baby.

John Lang, The forgers wife

For my final link, I’m sticking with “wild” Australia, but this time with a book written at the time it is set, John Lang’s The forger’s wife (my review). It deals with the rough and tumble of life in the colony, and of course, that includes bushrangers!

As frequently happens with my Six degrees posts, four of my six links are books by women. However, we have travelled a bit this time – from America to Japan to South Korea and thence China, before finally landing in Australia. The authors have been diverse too, though the two books set in Japan were not by Japanese writers! Go figure, as they say!

Now, the usual: Have you read The bingo palace? And, regardless, what would you link to? 

46 Comments leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    November 7, 2020 11:41

    Hi Sue, I like your links, but I have not read The Bingo Palace. Last time, I finished with a short story, The Chosen Vessel by Barbara Baynton, so will continue with short stories. The Drovers Wife by Henry Lawson; The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin; The Lottery by Shirley Jackson; A Good Man is Hard to Fine by Flannery O’Connor; and Fits by Alice Munro;

  2. November 7, 2020 12:47

    I haven’t read The Bingo Palace, but it’s interesting to see how The Big Business of Gambling has managed to insinuate itself into yet another ‘economy’ becoming dependant on it.
    I’m not going to do my #6 today, I accidentally published a ‘review from the archive’ today when it was meant to be for next Wednesday, and I don’t want to overwhelm my readers with yet another post today.

    • November 7, 2020 15:57

      Fair enough Lisa. You might notice that I accidentally left month’s tittle for this post and had to change it after it was published. (We are taking a little trip whole my brother is in town so I prepared this as and Monday Musings in advance. The mistakes you make eh?)

      And yes re gambling.

  3. November 7, 2020 15:20

    I haven’t read The Bingo Palace but do have Killers of the Flower Moon by Dave Grann on my reading list, which looks at what happened when oil was discovered on the land of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. It also brings to mind the fictional tv series, Banshee, which is about casinos and native American ownership (Banshee is excellent – written by author Jonathan Tropper – but be warned, it’s extremely violent).

    • November 7, 2020 16:00

      Thanks Kate. I haven’t heard of Banshee… But I consider myself warned. I don’t mind gritty or misery but I must say in ind book ence really difficult.

  4. November 7, 2020 18:27

    Excellent chain of thought, and both Bingo Palace and Pachinko caught my eye. Had heard the hype around Pachinko before, but your commentary made it seem more accessible this time.
    Since my own chain this month (https://lexlingua.co/six-degrees-sleepy-hollow-deadly-secrets/) revolves around sleepy, secretive things, I guess I would probably link to The Burial.
    Happy #6Degrees!

  5. November 7, 2020 18:46

    Well, The Bingo Palace does sound interesting, but I don’t think that I would have much to link it to… I might have to use either the Native American link or find something about someone who does something just to survive and make a living… hm…

  6. November 7, 2020 21:07

    Imaginative links always. It is neat how the books span the world. The dead child narrator link is interesting. I have to give this some thought, but I think that there see more then a few books with such narrators.

  7. November 8, 2020 04:18

    Excellent chain! Pachinko has been on my radar for a while now.

  8. George permalink
    November 8, 2020 09:01

    Step one will be to Wheat That Springeth Green by J.F. Powers, set in Minnesota ca. 1965. The only gambling shown is poker among priests, but in world of Catholic parishes you know that bingo can’t be far away.

    Step two is to Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh, since the officers of the “Royal Halbrediers” are shown playing “Housey-Housey”, and we are told that this is what civilians call Bingo.

    Step three is to P.G. Wodehouse’s story “The Great Sermon Handicap”; it has gambling, on the length of sermons delivered on a particular Sunday, and it includes in a supporting part the character Bingo Little.

    Step four is to Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March, since one of the younger Von Trotha’s misadventures involves a gambling establishment in a provincial border town.

    Step five is to Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. It has ruinous gambling, and there is a bit part for at least one clergyman (Catholic–I don’t remember any Anglicans).

    Step six is to Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, which has gambling–a bit of sharp practice is implied–and a parson in the family.

    • November 8, 2020 16:35

      Great links George. I’m intrigued by your reference to Housey-housey being the civilian name for Bingo. Here, I only knew of it as Housie when I was growing up, and was only thinking recently about how I only had the term bingo now. So I looked it up. Fair Trading NSW (a state govt org) characterises Housie as for charity and social games, and bingo for commercially run games (like we find in The Bingo Palace). Sounds like usage is a bit different where you are.

      I like that you included The way we live now and the idea of ruinous gambling.

      BTW I assume you are feeling happier today? You needn’t answer that if you don’t want to.

      • George permalink
        November 9, 2020 01:13

        Outside of Men at Arms I had never encountered the name “Housey-Housey” until your comment just now. For that matter, my direct experience of bingo is limited to a few games, the most recent probably at least forty-five years ago.

        I am relieved today.

        • November 9, 2020 08:20

          I’m not sure I’ve ever played it in fact, but I think my grandmother may have played Housie. Or her cohort did, because it’s those days that I recollect it. And then Housie suddenly reared its head fir me again at our local Hellenic Club. We couldn’t get a park the other day for lunch and we’re told it was because of Housie!

          So is my dear Californian friend.

  9. George permalink
    November 8, 2020 09:49

    Also, no I haven’t read The Bingo Palace. I have read Erdrich’s The Round House.

  10. November 8, 2020 10:27

    Another interesting chain Sue! I’ve been eyeing off Pachinko for a while now.

  11. Neil@kallaroo permalink
    November 8, 2020 19:06

    I’ve not read Bingo, but I have read all the other books in my chain. So where would you play bingo? What about a retirement village, hence The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell. An important theme in this book is what you do as you’re getting older. That’s also an important theme in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. In this story the hero, a retired accountant, decides to walk from one end of England to the other. (The story definitely wouldn’t work in Australia. You couldn’t walk across the Nullarbor without support.) Another elderly gentleman who travelled a lot was the hero of The One Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. A story that had a similar feel to me when I subsequently read it was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (which incidentally shares the theme of redemption with Harold Fry). Ove does all the right things. Another man who does all the right things is the hero of Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K. J. Parker. This is a fantasy, with lots of magic to help in the defence. Another story using lots of magic in defence is A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. This is a YA, but it is a delightful tale, beautifully crafted, a wry sense of humour (and the absurd), and a young heroine. My book of the year! (I had to work hard on my chain to finish up on it.)

    • November 8, 2020 19:58

      Oh Neil, I love that you worked hard on your chain to end where you wanted to. I know a couple of your early books but haven’t even heard of the last few!

      BTW Mr Gums and I are pottering around the Central Tablelands right now. Enjoying a little break.

      • Neil@kallaroo permalink
        November 8, 2020 23:00

        The last two were from my niece, recording on Goodreads. She is into fantasy and YA, having written some and gotten them published.

        Central Tablelands, eh. My spies tell me it’s looking very green and lush at the moment. We haven’t been away for ages (like years). I am hoping to acquire a portable concentrator soon, and once I have it we must venture down to Mandurah for a few days.

        • November 8, 2020 23:05

          Oh I do hope you can manage that. Would be good for both of you I’m sure.

  12. November 9, 2020 02:04

    I’ve read Pachinko, The People Who Eat Darkness and Dream of Ding Village, all of which are heartbreaking in their own ways, each of which I really enjoyed.

    I haven’t read The Bingo Palace, but it sounds interesting. The only book I’ve read about indigenous North Americans is The Break by Katherena Vermette, about a community of First Nations and Métis people in Manitoba, and the fractured society they are part of because of years of racism. It’s a grim read, but strongly feminist.

    • November 9, 2020 08:21

      Thanks Jan. I haven’t heard of The break, but it sounds like something I’d like.

  13. November 9, 2020 02:28

    I haven’t read The Bingo Palace although I have read other Erdrich. I did like Pachinko, which I found sad but extremely interesting and it generated a great discussion in my book group. Lee is currently a writer in residence at Amherst College, a small but very prestigious institution at the other end of my state, and does readings from time to time so I hope to hear her in person at some point.

    Here is my chain:
    http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2020/11/six-degrees-of-separation-from-good.html

    • November 9, 2020 08:28

      Oh that would be great Constance. My reading group did Pachinko too and we had a good discussion.

  14. November 9, 2020 09:17

    The Gambler
    Dostoevsky

  15. November 9, 2020 10:26

    Good chain. I think the only dead child narrator book I’ve read is “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold; the dead child is a teenager. It’s a strange concept.

  16. November 10, 2020 05:00

    The only one I read was Please Look After Mom which was recommended by a young Korean lady in my team. From her I learned a lot about Korean culture which is very different if you are a man (lots of drinking and gambling!).

    • November 10, 2020 08:18

      Yes, that’s the great value of reading non-Anglo fiction isn’t it. A couple in our shadow jury hated that book, but I found it really interesting, and moving.

  17. coolcatlover808 permalink
    November 11, 2020 05:31

    I’ve never believed the degrees of separation. Now I do.

  18. November 19, 2020 05:02

    That was fun. I have not read Bingo Palace but I have read other Loise Erdrich books. I think my link from Bingo Palace would be to a poetry book by her daughter Heid. Heid is a wonderful poet if you are ever interested 🙂

    • November 19, 2020 08:25

      Oh thanks for this Stefanie. I hadn’t heard about Heid. Will keep an eye out for her.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: