Woo hoo! This last month, we in Canberra, New South Wales and Victoria came out of lockdown. Vaccination rates are high, and it is still spring (here down under) so things are looking good in our neck of the woods. I sure hope it is for all of you, too.
But now, with the weather and pandemic report out of the way, let’s get onto our Six Degrees of Separation meme, which, as most of you know, is run by Kate. Check her blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest – to see how it works.
We start with the book chosen by Kate, and it is Sigrid Nunez’s What are you going through? As happens more often than not, I haven’t read it, but, among other things, it is about two friends and assisted dying.
For my first link I’m breaking my personal “Six Degrees” rule which is to only link to books that I’ve read and reviewed on this blog. My link is Helen Garner’s The spare room. It’s about two friends, one terminally ill with cancer but so desperate to not die that she engages in expensive and ultimately useless alternative therapies – to the immense distress of the caring friend. Bill has reviewed it, so here’s his, because, like me, he likes the novel!
From here, I’m linking to a memoir, which is particularly appropriate given Garner’s work falls into the autofiction genre. The book is Margaret Rose Stringer’s (M-R to those of you who read comments on my blog) And then like my dreams (my review). M-R wrote this as a tribute to the love of her life, who died from cancer. Her journey with him through life, illness and death, is beautiful to read. This link is doubly apt because M-R is a keen Garner fan.
Next, we return to fiction, but stay with the idea of grief, in Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet (my review). The trigger for this book is Agnes’ grief over the loss of her son Hamnet. Most of you will know that Hamnet was Shakespeare’s only son, and Agnes is a name used by Shakespeare for his wife Anne Hathaway. The novel ends on Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.
From here we are going to another book which riffs on the backstory behind a piece of literature, though in this case rather more is known about the story. The work is Steven Carroll’s The lost life (my review). It is the first in Carroll’s “Eliot Quartet” which explores, obviously, TS Eliot’s Four Quartets. The first quartet is “Burnt Norton”, and Carroll’s novel is framed by the story of Eliot and Emily Hale, who visit Burnt Norton manor in 1934. Like Hamnet in O’Farrell’s novel, Eliot, himself, is a fairly shadowy figure in the story.
I loved TS Eliot as a student and, while his life and views have become problematic, I’m still moved by his work. I was therefore thrilled when an app appeared for another of his major works, The Wasteland (my post). This app is an impressive application of modern technology to the enjoyment and study of literature and I’m sorry that it seems not to have taken off. (I don’t have a pic of the app, so you get a print edition instead!)
However, people are exploring the use of modern online and interactive technologies for literature, and one organisation doing this is/was If:Book. (It may now be defunct, or it has transformed into something else.) Produced under its auspices was Writing black (my review), edited by Ellen van Neerven. She saw a digital-only production being “moulded by possibility”, saying that the enhancements available in such an approach “lift
s the imagination”. I haven’t seen a lot of work going down this path, perhaps because most readers still love books, but I love that creators experiment with the new. It keeps the arts fresh.
So, this month we have strayed far from the beginning. I can’t see any link, as we’ve gone from death and grief to exploring the new. I think that’s a good way to be!
Now, the usual: Have you read “What are you going through”? And, regardless, what would you link to it?
47 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM What are you going through TO …”
I’m going to have a very busy Saturday catching up with the best part of a week’s blogging, but why not start here, where I get a mention! And Hi to M-R who, deservedly, gets a much more substantial mention.
Haha Bill … nice to hear from you. Avagoodweegend!
Yer a good bloke, Bill !
Hi Sue, I have read What Are You Going Through, a sad and good read. I too have Spare Room in my selection, and of course I should have thought of The Waste Land. My links are Kafka on the the Shore by Haruki Murakami; The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak; A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom; Grief is the thing With Feathers by Max Porter; and The Spare Room by Helen Garner;
Haha, thanks Meg. I toyed with a chain that had The book thief in it too, but then went a different direction.
You did a great job!! Enjoy the Springtime as we go into Winter here in Ohio.
Thanks Hopewells! Will visit you too.
Oh, I remember when the Wasteland app came out. My Other Half is mildly obsessed with TS Elliot and he’s a techie, so bringing his two loves together in this way was like all his Christmases come at once! And wasn’t it read by Irish actor Fiona Shaw? Triple whammy (cos he’s Irish too).
Interesting chain. I started with the Garner too but then found my chain getting increasingly more morbid and dark (more than usual) so I scrapped it and started again. It’s still a dark chain but one I felt a bit more comfortable about.
Yes, kimbofo, it includes a wonderful reading by Fiona Shaw. (Ah, is his Irishness partly why you love all those Irish novels?)
I’ll come see your chain … it was easy to stay dark with this one but I managed to get myself out of that path! I thought a few Aussies would start with The spare room but I wanted to do it anyhow because it was so perfect, wasn’t it?
I was waaaaay into Irish novels (and Guinness, my drink of choice) at least a decade before I met Tim, so, no, nothing to do with it. But occasionally handy to have a personal “translator” to ask about words/terms I don’t understand and to explain aspects of Catholicism that go over my head!
Haha, kimbofo, then maybe it just helped the connection. I bet it does help.
Catholicism has some (if not many !) aspects that go ‘way over the heads of most of its proponents.
It requires Faith, and lots of it.
Like, ginormous ..
I know. And that’s what fascinates me. I am a logic-based person so I’m intrigued how others live lives based on faith.
Yes, me too kimbofo. Sometimes I wish I could, but I’ve come to believe you are either that sort of person or you are not!
Wouldn’t have worked for me then!
Certainly didn’t work for me, after about 20 years of having it stuffed down my throat. Now I’m mystified how any sensible person can possibly call him/herself ‘religious’.
I guess those of us who aren’t, find it hard to understand, but I have some sensible friends who are and they help me understand how you can be.
You mean, of course, how “one” can be ..?!
I was half-expecting a clean sweep of Garner-first-links – it was the first book that came to my mind and I couldn’t get off it then. As it happens, I haven’t actually read it, and not sure I will. I had started it many years ago and was only a short way in when I got a call from my dermatologist to say I had a Stage III melanoma. Suddenly cancer stories were not what I wanted to be reading! Needless to say my melanoma was swiftly and successfully operated on, but I have not returned to The Spare Room.
Yes, it was too obvious and too good not to, but understand completely. Glad your melanoma wasn’t invasive.
So am I!
Sue, this looks like a wonderful chain. I read and loved Hamnet last year, and read the Eliot for my English course. The rest are new to me–will look them up.
Thanks Damyanti. That Eliot app is great.
*chuckle* I meandered around all over the place as usual, here’s mine: https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/11/06/six-degrees-of-separation-from-what-are-you-going-through-to/
I loved the Stephen Carroll… I wonder what he’s working on now that he’s finished his ‘serieses’. (I wasn’t keen on The Story of O, alas.)
So did I, I think! Even to non-books!
I thought of Helen Garner’s The Spare Room too, so got a thrill when I saw you had selected it!
As a Victorian, I’m deeply envious of the ACT’s vaccination rates. The connection between a highly-educated population and high vaccination rates are clear. Glad to hear you’re out and about again and enjoying spring.
Haha, Rose, I don’t like doing the obvious but I just wanted to do this one.
think you are right Rose about that connection. There are some amti-vaxxers here of course but very few. Our percentage, too, is 12+, which is extra special I think. I hope you are enjoying freedoms too?
I see you and Kate are of the same mind with your first links on this one! And getting to Hamnet… I’m always willing to include a book by O’Farrell! Lovely chain!
Thanks Davida. I must read more O’Farrell.
She’s one of my favorite authors…
And I’d barely heard of her before Hamnet.
Apart from TS Eliot (of course!) I’ve only read -and enjoyed – Hamnet from your list. plenty to think about here!
At least there’s one this time, eh, Margaret. I do like see in a book or author I know in other people’s lists.
I started with the obvious link too but decided to move away from books about cancer after that. I enjoyed reading your chain which includes two other books I’ve read, Hamnet and The Wasteland – I wasn’t aware of the app, it does look very interesting!.
I will come visit of course. Glad you knew two in my chain. Not always the case is it?
I like the way you wandered off in a different direction there. Your destination title sounds fascinating.
Thanks, I enjoyed doing that.
I have only read excerpts of The Waste Land, but definitely want to read it all. Technology to better read and understand literature is fascinating.
My quirky chain is here: https://wordsandpeace.com/2021/11/06/six-degrees-of-separation-from-asking-to-spelling/
Thanks W&P, this app is great for that. There’s also a Shakespeare Sonnets app but I don’t think they did much else. I’ll check your quirky chain out.
I am in awe ..
Considering how often I go off-topic here in your Comments, or make controversial claims, or just monster you gently, I can’t get over your generosity, ST !
There is the point to be considered of the quality of your review; it opened my eyes to the whole reviewing thing. Before you I hadn’t understood the depths to be plumbed within a quality reviewer’s work.
Thanks from the heart. From the soul, even ..
Oh you, M-R, you wrote a great book, from the heart.
And I love your monstering me as you so delicately put it!
Yes .. that’s certainly its source ..
Thanks, dear ST !
You can tell, but a creative heart too.
From death comes life, from old comes news! Fun links as always 🙂
Ha ha, thanks Stefanie. I like that.