February already … and so another year starts to whizz by, or so it seems to me. Somehow, this Six Degrees theme just makes it all the more obvious as it comes around very quickly. But now, as it’s clear that I don’t have any small talk – or, alternatively I have too much – we’ll just get on with the main game. (Talking of games, wasn’t Australia’s summer of tennis great this year?!) Anyhow, if you don’t know this meme and how it works, please check meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book. This month, she’s chosen a book that was near the top of her Best of 2021 list, Patricia Lockwood’s No one is talking about this. I haven’t read it, so let’s push on …
As always, there were so many options for my first link, but I decided to go with the idea of debut novel shortlisted for the Booker Prize, which was the case for No one is talking about this. Many debut novels have been shortlisted for the Booker since it started, but one that I’ve reviewed here is Steve Toltz’s A fraction of the whole (my review). I’ve chosen it because it was a lively read and – well – because I like to remind us of older books that once made a splash.
In 2019, ABR (the Australian Book Review) posted their Top 20 Aussie books of the 21st century, which seemed a bit silly given how early in the 21st century it was. However, it does provide me with an interesting link opportunity. Steve Toltz’s book came in at 17. At 16 was Peter Temple’s detective novel, Truth (my review).
I’m not really a big reader of crime fiction, but I admit there’s some good writing in that genre, including good Australian writing. Truth was an International Winner of Germany’s prestigious literary prize for crime fiction, the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Fiction Award). And so was Garry Disher’s Bitter Wash Road (my review). In fact, Disher has won this award a few times.
But, hmm, I’ve now linked three Australian books, so I would really like to get us overseas – in books, not just in awards! So, my next link concerns my TBR. Bitter Wash Road had been on my TBR for 8 years when I read it in 2021. A book that had been waiting much longer, from when I bought it in 1995 to when I read it in 2019, was Louise Erdrich’s The Bingo Palace (my review).
Now, I’ve mentioned Louise Erdrich on my blog in another capacity besides for this book, and that was as an author who also owns a bookshop. Hers is Birchbark Books and Native Arts, in Minneapolis. Another American author who owns a book shop is Ann Patchett who hit big time with her novel Bel canto (read before blogging.) I read, loved and reviewed her essay (published as a booklet) on bookselling and bookshops, The bookshop strikes back.
And this leads me naturally to another essay by a novelist (and more) who worked in a bookshop, George Orwell’s “Bookshop memories” (my very short review). The essay draws from his work in a secondhand bookshop in London.
I rather like that I’ve gone from a book that deals, at least in part I believe, with the internet and the infiltration of social media into our lives with one about selling secondhand books, in which the author discusses people’s reading tastes! (And, for the first time, ever, I think, the male writers outnumber the female in my six links!)
Now, the usual: Have you read No one is talking about this? And, regardless, what would you link to?
55 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM No one is talking about this TO …”
Speaking of that book that made a splash, something stirred in my brain when I saw the author’s name, and after a quick trip to Google, voila! “Sceptre has signed Here Goes Nothing, the “virtuoso” new novel by Man Booker-shortlisted author Steve Toltz”. Due out this year I think, and maybe I even read that on your Books To Look Out for post?
You did Lisa – coming out in May. Thanks. Just his third I think? He has such a different mind it seems, so should be interesting. I should have mentioned it in my Six Degrees but I’d forgotten – though the fact that I chose his debut to feature must have meant he was in my mind.
I like your chain and its links to bookish books… I’m finding lately that even Book Twitter is descending into trivia and unbookish behaviour, so I’m all for getting it back on track!
Well, WG, I haven’t read the Patricia Lockwood, or the Steve Tolz for that matter, but love Louise Erdrich and also Ann Patchett and confess to an earlier longing to own a bookshop, specifically on Canberra’s Northbourne Avenue. I had an eye on the east row mission building, with the shop at ground level and a flat to live in above. At the time the ACT’s strict residential zonings put paid to my pipe dream, but if I stayed I might have brought it off. PS. Is there a bookshop there now?
What a great dream Sara. And no I don’t think there is, though there us some action in those buildings that I’m not up with. Smiths Alternative used to be on the north face of West Row but it’s turned more into a small event venue now.
I remember Smith’s. But not a bookshop anymore?
No, sadly, it gradually cut back the books aspect to nothing.
Nice work! I hadn’t seen the George Orwell–it really interests me.He’s the only one of the author’s I knew.
I’m glad you knew one Hopewell! The others though are also worth checking out. Louise Erdrich has a new one out now which looks good.
I’ve never finished a Louise Erdrich though so may people I know love her.
You mean you’ve started and not finished her books? Can you explain why?
Thanks for taking me around the world! I love the TBR connection. Now I’m wondering what my longest is.
Thanks Koo. The TBR link was a bit cheeky but I like doing thinks like that.
Love the Erdrich – Patchett link 🙂 It could be continued with Judy Blume (I do hope to get to her bookshop one day).
I haven’t read the Toltz but have a hard copy purchased when it was released – I’ll get to it one day!
Glad you liked that link, Kate.
A winning, bookshopish chain here. I’d read those George Orwell essays!
They are great Davida. I have one in the little book to go.
Hi Sue, I have not read No One is Talking About this, though I did try. I gave up, I could not engage. But my links are: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer; The Loudness of Unsaid Things by Hilde Hinton;; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; The Rules of Revelation by Lisa McInerney; and Heart Sick by Jessie Stephens. I have just finished reading Ann Patchett’s essays, titled These Precious days. A great read.
Interesting Meg. I was barely aware of the book. Your links are great. I was tempted to make We need to g all about Kevin, for my first link, but I like to limit myself to books reviewed on my blog. Patchett is great isn’t she. I’d enjoy that.
I didn’t get on with Lockwood, and I didn’t get on with Disher. Ann Patchett is good value so I’ll follow your suggestion up. An excellent chain!
Thanks Margaret. What was wrong with Disher? I’ve only read one but I liked it. I’m not a crime reader though so wouldn’t assess it by crime fiction criteria. I can’t recollect whether you read crime.
I do, and while I wouldn’t say i’m one for ‘cosy crime’, this was just a little too raw for me. I recognised a good writer there though.
Thanks Margaret. I’m guessing the Disher wasn’t Bitter Wash Road? I’m not a big crime reader as I said, but I didn’t find Bitter Wash Road very raw, though I guess it depends on what we all mean by raw.
That was the one! I’m a big softie.
Even more than I am then!
I only recently found out about Erdrich’s bookshop. I’d love to get my hands on that Patchett essay having so enjoyed her recent collection. I’m an ex-bookseller so a wee bit obsessed!
Thanks Susan… I hope you are an ex-bookseller by choice? I hope you can find the essay.
Ah, not really although it was a long time ago now. Health issues meant I found it increasingly difficult to handle its demands – bookselling is a very physical job! I was lucky enough to carry on working with books, reviewing and as a magazine editor, though.
Oh well done. Yes, I was a librarian, and many library jobs are pretty physical too, though it can depend in what you specialise in.
Erdrich and Patchett are both writers I mean to try, but never quite get round to. There’s always something else jumping the queue!
I hadn’t heard of the Orwell you chose, either. I might look into that.
And such a lovely bookish turn your chain took. I enjoyed it very much.
Thanks Jan. I know about queue jumping… So many books, eh.
The Orwell is probably not among his best known essays but is interesting for readers in particular. You can find it online.
I like Ann Patchett’s writing, so I might look into The bookshop strikes back. And crime fiction recommendations are always welcome! I hadn’t heard of the two you mentioned.
Thanks stargazer. Perhaps you haven’t read much Australian crime? If you have, do you have favourites?
I love Jane Harper, at least the two books, I’ve read. Does that count? I think she is British, but lives in Australia.
I think she counts! Her publishing career started here didn’t it? I haven’t read her…
Yes, I think so. Her books also take place in Australia and her ability to get the most out of the setting, describing the dry, hot outback, the dust, the isolated farms etc is second to none.
I saw the film of The dry and enjoyed that, but that’s as far as I’ve got. Too many books!
No small talk from my side today as my “normal blog voice” is at home. Gosh, I really do sound like a crazy lady, don’t I!!
Nope, I haven’t read any of your books and that is the wonder of Six Degrees! An opportunity to be introduced to great new books.
Have a wonderful February!
Ha ha, thanks Mareli. It is the wonder isn’t it?
Love that you ended with a double bookshop! And the new Erdrich novel is very bookshop-y too!
Thanks Marcie. Bookshop links will always get readers in! I fingered the new Erdrich in a bookshop yesterday but put it down again because, you know… however, I may still relent.
Just as well. As there is a reading list in the back that would only cause more trouble for you in the end.
I saw that, actually! (PS How are you going with YWA’s Move ? I’ve slowed down with our trip to Melbourne – here for 2 weeks – but I brought my mat, and did Day 29 yesterday hope to do Day 30 later this morning. It’s 3am at the moment.)
You’re still ahead of me and I’ve no good excuse. Heheh Heading for 24 soon. Was inserting the occasional Fuego y Tranquillo for a little more umph (winter here, so longer practices are easier for me these days). Don’t know what I’d do without Yoga with Adrienne (even though I can’t seem to get the spelling of her name right). Do you like the final “unscripted” one of each series?
24 is good! Haha re longer practices. (I notice you, like us, wrote the English “practice” for the noun, unlike Americans who use the “s” for the verb and noun)
I don’t mind the unscripted but would prefer the scripted really. I’m gearing myself up for it this morning! You?
I’m always up for crime fiction recommendations, esp. from countries other than mine (the U.S.). Thanks!
Excellent Mary, very glad to have obliged!
I have never heard of Nobody is Taking About This or of Patricia Lockwood.
But not talking, and negativity in general suggest the sequence:
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, about an IRA-related murder case. I have read only a few pages, for I find IRA history depressing.
None Dare Call It Treason by John A. Stormer, a curious bit of early 1960s American conspiracy thinking. I haven’t read it, but my father knew the author when both were boys in western Pennsylvania. He was not impressed. Quite a few unprepossessing boys have gone on to do great things, but I think Mr. Stormer was not one of them.
Not Iby Joachim Fest, a memoir of living through the Nazi years in an anti-Nazi family. “Not I” is a quotation from Matthew 26:33.
No More Parades by Ford Madox Ford, one of the WW I tetralogy.
Nobody Here But Us Chickens, a collection of essays by the American critic Marvin Mudrick. It is worth a glance if you can find it.
Finally, frivolously, Non Campus Mentis: World History According to College Students, a collection of undergraduate absurdities compiled by Anders Henricksson.
(read “compiled by Anders Henricksson”)
I will!! And will try to correct.
Great focus on negatives George. But poor Mr Stormer! Love your last title, and l’ll try to remember the essay collection.
Your linking was fun as usual! I have not read No One is Talking About This but it seems to be getting some buzz. I just finished Louise Erdrich’s newest boo, The Sentence, and loved it. It takes place in her bookstore and she makes a minor appearance in it. It’s also the only novel I have ever read that has about 5 pages of book recommendations from the narrator at the end 🙂
Thanks Stefanie. I saw it in the shop and saw the list at the end and wondered what it was about. I’m really tempted now.
I’m afraid that – unlike you – I could find NO options to follow the starter book this month. I would never read it, but that hasn’t caused me problems with other chains – don’t know what happened to my brain this time.
I love books about, set in, or related to, bookshops. The Anne Patchett sounds excellent, I will look it up.
I too feel I should read more non-UK crime. I have read a couple set in the south of France (Summertime: All the Cats are Bored, and Autumn: All the Cats Return, by Philippe Georget) which I enjoyed, and I listened to a great reading of The Dry on BBC Sounds. I must try to find some more set in Australia.
I’ve never read any Louise Erdrich but the mere fact that one of her books has a reading list in the back makes her sound very interesting to me! My library appears to be in the process of buying two copies, so I will try to get hold of one of those.
Thank you for an interesting chain.
Thanks Rosemary. Sometimes the brain just goes to sleep! There’s always next time.